United States Sends Representative To Monitor Sowore’s Trial

The United States has sent a delegation to monitor and observe the trial of pro-democracy campaigner and journalist, Omoyele Sowore, at the Federal High Court, Abuja. 

This comes after some US lawmakers last week wrote a letter to Nigeria’s Attorney-General of Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), over the rearrest and continued detention of the journalist by the Department of State Services. 

Sowore was rearrested inside the Abuja court on December 6, 2019 by DSS operatives less than 24 hours after he was released on bail after spending 125 days in detention. 

At the resumed hearing of the case on Monday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, Political Officer of the United States Embassy in Nigeria, Marcus Thornton, was seen exchanging pleasantries with Sowore’s lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), after the day’s proceeding. 

Falana had earlier faulted the application for adjournment made by counsel to the AGF, Abdullahi Abubakar. 

On his part, counsel to the DSS, Godwin Agbadua, told the court that he got to know about the case on the pages of newspapers, stating that he had not been served with court processes and hearing notice.

The judge asked the registrar to show Agbadua the acknowledged copies of the court processes served on DSS.

But Falana punctured the argument, noting that all processes and hearing notice were served on the DSS and AGF. 

He submitted that the matter before the court had to do with the liberty of a citizen, urging the court to proceed with the matter.

However, Falana maintained that all the processes filed by Abubakar were not properly filed. 

He asked him to regularise his processes for appearance. 

But Abubakar insisted that he had filed all the processes before the court. 

The situation compelled the court to stand down the case for few minutes to enable the court’s registrar to search for the document. 

The judge later told the court that he may not proceed with the case because the applicant – Sowore – was the publisher of SaharaReporters that accused him in a publication of collecting bribe from a former governor of Benue State standing trial for a criminal case in 2016 and 2019.

He said justice is rooted in confidence and that none of the parties should have the apprehension or fear that they would not get justice in his court.

While reacting to the point made by the judge, Falana said though he was not aware of the publication in question, he would ask that the case file be sent back to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment.