Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu has indicated she no longer had interest in presiding over the trial involving the publisher of SaharaReporters and convener of #RevolutionNow movement, Omoyele Sowore and co-defendant Olawale Bakare.
Justice Ojukwu, who has been transferred to Calabar informed Chief Justice Justice Tsoho that although she would continue with other cases, she would no longer preside over Mr Sowore’s.
There have been controversies in Sowore’s trial since his arraignment in 2019.
Justice Ojukwu had ordered that Sowore and Bakare be released on bail but the Department of State Services disobeyed the order for several weeks. After granting him bail, the DSS re-arrested Sowore inside the court, causing commotion which made the judge flee.
He was, however, released following nationwide condemnation.
In February 2020, the Office of the Attorney-General took over the case, amended the charges and re-arraigned Sowore and Bakare.
The judge ordered the Federal Government to pay N200,000 as the cost to the defendants for the frivolous application for adjournment and adjourned till February 13.
A court official told PUNCH that two other judges also refused to take up Sowore’s case due to its ‘sensitive nature.’
“It seems some of these judges feel intimidated. They don’t want Federal Government trouble. The case is high profile and controversial. So, they have been avoiding it,” the source said.
It was also learnt that the fundamental human rights suit instituted by Sowore against the head of DSS Yusuf Bichi for unlawful detention, which is pending before Justice Inyang Ekwo, has also been returned to the chief justice for reassignment after several adjournments.