The Attorney-General of the Federation(AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), on Friday said the release of #RevolutionNow protest convener, , Omoyele Sowore, and a former National Security Adviser(NSA), Sambo Dasuki, from detention by the Federal Government was based on compassionate grounds.
He disclosed this in a statement by his spokesperson, Dr. Umar Gwandu, who quoted him as speaking to the BBC Hausa and the Hausa Service of Voice of America, that they were released because the government decided to comply with orders granting them bail.
Explaining why the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria(IMN), Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenat, were not released like Dasuki and Sowore, the AGF said: “the Federal Government does not interfere with the cases that are being prosecuted by a state government.”
El-Zakzaky and his wife are being prosecuted by the Kaduna State government on charges of murder.
Malami said the release of Sowore and Dasuki was a demonstration of the government’s commitment to rule of law, adding that it was not due to any domestic or international pressure.
He said: “The only reasons for the release of Omoyele Sowore and Sambo Dasuki revolved around our commitment to the rule of law, obedience to court orders and compassionate grounds.
“It is important to understand the fact that as far as the law is concerned and in relation to the Nigerian justice system, one has multiple options after a court has ruled on a matter.
“The individuals concerned were released out of compassion and mercy as well as obedience to the rule of law and not because of any extraneous consideration.”
He maintained that the Federal Government has the right to keep detaining the suspects while challenging the order admitting them to bail up to the apex court.
Malami stated that the government had multiple options in the aftermath of the court orders granting the detainees’ bail.
According to the minister, the government have “the right to appeal the said ruling, the right to ask the same court that issued an order to vary or review the terms of the order as well as the right to request for stay of execution of the order pending the hearing and determination of an appeal in that matter.
“It was in line with the above provisions of the law that the Federal Government considered the relevant court orders in respect of these cases”
The statement by the minister’s spokesperson added: “Malami repudiated the claim that his office has received any formal communication from any American Senator on the matter and that the discusion during the visit of the American Ambassador to Nigeria at the event of the submision of letter of credendce were not in any way connected to the accused persons.
“Even if we received any communication from them, that will never be the basis on the part of the Federal Government to obey or disobey court orders emanating from Nigeria.”
Malami the cases of Dasuki and Sowore were treated on their individual merit “and not in relation to one another or any other factors.”
He described as blatant falsehood the claims that Dasuki was detained for scoring certain primordial sentiments.
“The critical question that you may ask should be whether there is a strong suspicion of committing an offence or not. If there is a strong suspicion of committing an offence which deserved, as a matter of necessity, to be investigated through legal steps then there was no room for thinking of witch hunting an individual, scoring acrimonies or personal vendetta against anyone,” the minister said.
He recalled that all individuals that were suspected of committing offences at various levels and at various times were charged to court with some granted bail based on the merits of their cases.
“The time has now come for Sambo Dasuki and Omoyele Sowore to also enjoy bail based on the merit of their individual cases.They were charged based on their individual cases, taken to court, granted bail and now have been released. All the individuals involved were treated fairly and justly; they were taken to court, enjoyed the court’s favourable discretion and they were all released,” Malami added.