The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev Dr Alfred Adewale Martins has condemned, in very strong terms, the recent re-arrest of Omoyele Sowore by offficials of the Directorate of Security Services (DSS) in the same court that ordered his release not quite 24hours after he was released.
He said the gangster-like manner Sowore was whisked away by the DSS operatives within the hallowed Temple of Justice and before a sitting Justice, portends a grave danger for democracy in Nigeria.
In a release signed by the Acting Director of Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Rev Fr Anthony Godonu, the Archbishop described as unfortunate and condemnable the action of the DSS which, he said, has further dented the human rights record of the present Government and the often repeated determination of President Muhamadu Buhari to respect the autonomy of each of the three arms of government.
Archbishop Martins said the blatant disregard for the rule of law by the DSS, their continuous refusal to obey court rulings, the latest of which is that of Sowore, is an affront on the country’s fledgling democracy.
“I watched the scene of the arrest of Sowore on a video clip circulating on the social media with utter disbelief and I was thoroughly saddened and disappointed when this was confirmed on regular media. I could not believe that an arm of government could be treated with so much disrespect and utter contempt. I could not believe that we have descended so low that security officials would desecrate the temple of justice in the way they did: arresting a person in the very presence of the Judge who ordered his release in the same court in which the order was given. This action is despicable and a disgrace to a country that prides itself as having enjoyed 20 uninterrupted years of democratic rule.
We call on Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, the Chief Justice of the Federation to condemn this assault on the arm of government over which he presides. We expect the Nigeria Bar Association to take a strong stance to protest this assault. When Lawal Daura was implicated in the blockade of the National Assembly in 2018, Prof. Osinbajo who was the acting President then, took decisive action by terminating his appointment because of the violation of that arm of government. We expect President Buhari to do nothing less as another arm of government has been violated again by the same DSS. The DSS Director should be called to question because he and his organization are leaving the whole world with an impression that the country is steadily sliding down the path of anarchy and dictatorship. The Federal Government must call the DG of the DSS to order and get them to work in accordance with the dictates of law. The frequency with which the DSS has been disregarding court judgements, leaves one with the impression that the judiciary has been emasculated and this cannot be allowed in a democracy especially as it was not tolerated in the days of military regimes.”
As a way forward, Archbishop Martins urged President Buhari to take all steps necessary to ensure that the judiciary is allowed to operate freely in accordance with the law; reminding him that like the Executive arm of government that he heads, perform its roles, the Judiciary is also constitutionally empowered to ensure that law and justice subsists in the country
He also has a word of caution for the DSS, “The first thing the DSS should do now is to release Sowore as the court has directed and tender an apology to the whole country for the embarrassment we all witnessed. Should the DSS have further allegations against him, let such be presented before the court of law so that justice can take its course. Any further arbitrary hounding of Sowore would only escalate the tension and disaffection in the land,” he concluded.
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