Sowore: GTBank, UBA on list as Nigerian govt files witnesses

The Nigerian government has selected five witnesses to testify against the detained publisher and activist, Omoyele Sowore.

The trial is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

The witnesses include investigation officers and banking officials.

They are to give statements on Mr Sowore’s alleged treasonable offences instigated through the #RevolutionNow protest.

Premium Times reports that the witnesses include Paul Clement, Moses Amadi, Cyril Odawn and Paul Okafor.

The investigative officers would reveal how Sowore allegedly “mobilised youths across the country to embark on a revolution that will see to the end of the democratically elected administration.”

Two banking officials with the GTB and the UBA will also speak on how Mr Sowore’s banking statements with the various banks were created.

Last Friday, the federal government filed a seven-count charge against him, accusing him of treason, fraudulent transfer of funds, cyber-stalking, dissemination of inciting media content and insulting President Muhammadu Buhari.

Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has written an open letter to Mr Abukabar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, urging him to enter a nolle prosequi and discontinue the prosecution.

In the letter dated 21 September 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the group said: “Sowore’s case and several similar cases instigated/brought by state governors make a hideous mockery of Nigeria’s criminal justice systems, rule of law, freedom of expression and media freedom.

“These cases are persecution and not prosecution. As guardian of the public interest, you have a role to end this travesty now, and to maintain the sanctity and integrity of Nigeria’s justice system.

“These cases set a dangerous precedent for the misuse and subversion of the justice system, which may lead to the politicization of the judiciary. This will be bad for everyone—ordinary citizens, journalists and even the politicians in power, as they may themselves become targets of these repressive and abusive tactics when they are out of power/in opposition.

“While the Nigerian government has a responsibility to prevent and prosecute criminal offences, it ought to do so lawfully, and in full compliance with human rights and the rule of law. Exercising your constitutional independence and discretion to withdraw these kinds of charges would meet the test of reasonableness, demands of justice, and as noted, serve the public interest.

“Laws against terrorism and money laundering should be properly used, and not to undermine critical voices, activists, and the media. Invoking the charges of treasonable felony to unjustifiably or arbitrarily restrict the right to freedom of opinion and expression would minimise the seriousness with which our laws traditionally treat such offences, and undermine the essence of the criminal justice system and the rule of law.

“If not urgently addressed, the misuse of the criminal justice system and politicization of Nigeria’s judiciary would jeopardise the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law and lower the public estimation of the ability of our justice system to serve as the last hope of justice for desperate victims.

“Unless these bogus charges are immediately withdrawn, there is a danger that the public interest represented by the courts and that represented by your role, might part company.”

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Author: see naija

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