Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has insisted that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami SAN, cannot wash his hands off with respect to the illegal detention of Omoyele Sowore by the Department of State Security Service (DSS) contrary to an earlier position.
Mr. Malami In a statement on Monday said that the Federal Government is guided by extant laws and tradition of the law in handling legal matters and related litigations.
In response, Mr Falana who is the legal representative of Mr Sowore, convener of the #RevolutionNow movement, stressed that since Mr Malami took over the criminal case from the DSS, he is deemed to possess “the constitutional powers in full and the responsibility for any decision thereupon rests solely on him.”
Mr Falana who had written to the AGF, to direct the DSS to release Sowore on bail, in compliance with the order of the trial judge, the Honourable Justice Ifeoma Ojukwu, stated that Mr Malami needs to take cognizance of the legal implications of taking over a pending criminal case in exercise of the powers of an Attorney-General under the common law and the Constitution.
“Since Mr. Malami has taken over the case of FRN v Sowore v Another he is deemed to possess “the constitutional powers in full and the responsibility for any decision thereupon rests solely on him. Therefore, he cannot like Pontius Pilate wash off his hands with respect to the illegal detention of Sowore by the State Security Service.
“Furthermore, since section 287 of the Constitution has imposed a legal obligation on all authorities and persons in Nigeria to comply with the decisions of all competent courts the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Malami is duty-bound to direct the State Security Service to release Sowore on bail in compliance with the valid and subsisting order of the federal high court.”
While quoting the AGF in his response, Mr. Falana reiterated and called for the release of Mr Sowore.
“In the said statement the Attorney-General stated that ‘When parties submit their issues for determination to a court of law, they lack exclusivity of decision over such issues without recourse to the court. We remain guided by the established tradition and will not take a unilateral decision without recourse to the rule of law’.
“We fully agree with the Attorney-General because he has stated the law correctly. On the basis of the legal principle, we are compelled to call on the Attorney-General to reverse the “unilateral decision” of the State Security Service to continue to incarcerate Sowore ‘without recourse to law’.
“Having taken over the prosecution of the case pursuant to section 174 of the Constitution the Attorney-General should not hesitate to direct the State Security Service to release Sowore without any further delay.”