A Lagos based lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), has attacked the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu, for faulting Omoyele Sowore’s claim of a delegation led by the late Ismaila Isa Funtua, visiting him while he was in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS).
According to Sowore, the RevolutionNow convener, a delegation led by Funtua, an ally of President Muhammadu Buhari had visited him to negotiate his release from the DSS custody.
However, Shehu denied the claim by Sowore and even vowed to ask the DSS to publish the video of the visit. Sowore had since challenged him to go ahead and publish the video.
But Falana, who is Sowore’s counsel, while responding to the development said that Mr Shehu’s memory failed him in his “jejune narrative” on the matter.
Giving his own account of what transpired, Falana said:
“Mr Garba Shehu has continued to give the highly erroneous impression that the deal struck with the captive was frustrated by his lawyer. Since Mr Shehu’s memory failed him in his jejune narrative, he said that the meeting ended well and contrary to the posturing by Sowore, he said he was happy with a resolution proposed but that his lawyer, whoever that was, needed to come on board.
“Mr Shehu ought to have published the terms of the ‘resolution’ which he claimed that Sowore had accepted instead of blaming the collapse of the ‘fence-mending process’ on the intransigence of his lawyer ‘whoever that was (sic)’.
“I confirm that I held a meeting with the trio referred to by Mr Shehu even though he did not mention my name. Hence, I am compelled to react to a couple of issues raised in his incendiary account. More so that he did not attend the Lagos meeting. For reasons best known to Mr Shehu, he refused to inform the Nigerian people that I rejected the gratuitous request to prevail on Mr Sowore to apologise to President Muhammadu Buhari and write an undertaking to desist from further embarrassing the federal government.”
Speaking further Falana said, “Apart from insisting that my client had committed no offence by exercising his freedom of expression over the perilous state of the nation, I expressed my personal agony over the request because I won the legal battle wherein the Court of Appeal had upheld the fundamental right of the Nigerian people to protest against the government without a police permit.
“Mr Shehu ought to have equally disclosed that I demanded for the unconditional release of my client from the unlawful incarceration of the State Security Service. In fact, when the late Alhaji Isa Funtua said rather condescendingly at the Lagos meeting that the regime in power could not be defeated, I was quick to remind him that the Nigerian people had defeated military dictators to pave way for the current civilian dispensation.
“In particular, I recalled the case of Isa Funtua vs The President wherein the plaintiff had challenged the obnoxious newspaper registration decree enacted by the Ibrahim Babangida junta in 1993. For goodness sake is Mr Shehu not aware of the fact that Mr Sowore was charged with treasonable felony, money laundering and insulting President Buhari for daring to call off the bluff of the federal government?
“It is interesting to note I had teamed up with other patriots in 2006 to campaign for the restoration of the liberty of Mr Garba Shehu (who was then the spokesman for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar) when he was detained by the State Security Service and charged before the Federal High Court with the offence of “obtaining, reproducing and keeping classified material” in contravention of the Official Secrets Act.
“Happily, the charge filed against Mr Shehu by the forces of incipient fascism in the country was withdrawn and struck out in his favour. In like manner, the charge of a treasonable felony which is hanging menacingly on the head of Mr Omoyele Sowore like a sword of Damocles will also be struck out in his favour in the fullness of time.”
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