The Abuja division of the Federal High Court on Friday granted bail to the convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare in the sum of N100m and two sureties in like sum.
Meanwhile, the court has barred Sowore and Bakare from addressing any rally pending the conclusion of their trial on charges of treasonable felony among others.
In addition, Justice Ifeoma Ojokwu further barred Sowore from traveling out of Abuja and Bakare from traveling out of Osogbo, during the trial.
The court said the sureties who must be resident in Abuja, must also have landed assets worth the bail sum in Abuja, and they are to deposit the original title documents of the assets with the court.
The judge also ordered him to deposit the sum of N50m in the account of the court as security.
She granted bail to the second defendant in the sum of N50m with one surety.
The judge ordered that the defendants be remanded in the custody of the Department of State Service pending when they would meet the bail conditions.
But counsel to the defendants, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has described the bail conditions as stringent.
Before the ruling, Falana had urged the court to admit them to bail on liberal terms, while the prosecution counsel, Hassan Liman (SAN) in opposing the application, urged the court to refused same.
Moving the bail application, Falana said the charges of treasonable felony instituted against his clients were baseless, as tagging their protest “revolution” was not an offence in Nigeria.
He informed the court that President Muhammadu Buhari, had in the past called for a violent revolution like the one that took place in Egypt and was not arrested or prosecuted.
He submitted that the applicants were not even accused of training people in Ghana like Chief Obafemi Awolowo when he was charged with treasonable felony. In this case, no training, no contact with any soldier.
“We have shown that leaders of the ruling party (All Progressives Congress) have been calling for a revolution.
“In 2011, Mr. President called for a revolution like the violent Egyptian revolution.
“In this case, the first defendant warned that nobody should engage in violence, ‘we are protesting peacefully.
“We submit with profound respect that the use of the word ‘revolution’ has not been criminalised in Nigeria.
“When President Buhari called for revolution, he was never arrested or prosecuted.”
But in opposing the bail, the prosecuting counsel, Liman, urged the judge to disregard the arguments by Falana on the grounds that they were not relevant to the bail application.
He said there were issues that the court would only determine at the end of trial.
He urged the court to consider the “severity” of the offence of treasonable felony, which he said attracted life imprisonment.
He said the prospect of such punishment being imposed on the defendants could make them jump bail.
He also urged the court “to take judicial notice” of the fact of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, who was also charged with treasonable felony, but jumped bail.
The court had on September 30 ordered the remand of the two men in the custody of the Department of State Service after they were arraigned on seven counts of treasonable felony, cybercrimes and money laundering instituted against them by the Federal Government.
The defendants had pleaded not guilty to the charges after which the judge adjourned till Friday (today) for the hearing of their bail applications.
The Federal Government had preferred a seven-count money laundering and conspiracy charges against the detained activist and convener of the RevolutionNow Protest, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.
Equally cited as a defendant in the charge marked FHC/ ABJ/CR/235/2019, a copy of which was sighted by our correspondent last night, is one Olawale Adebayo Bakare (aka Mandate).
In the statement of offence that was attached to count-one of the charge, the Federal Government alleged that the defendants committed conspiracy to commit treasonable felony, contrary to Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and punishable under the same section of the act.
“That you Omoyele Stephen Sowore, male adult of No 1 Mosafejo Street, Kiribo, Ese-Odo LGA, Ondo State, Olawale Adebayo Bakare (aka Mandate) male, adult of Olaiya Arca, Oshogbo LGA, Osun State and others at large, under the aegis of Coalition for Revolution (CORE), sometime in August 2019 in Abuja, Lagos and other parts of Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did conspire amongst yourselves to stage a revolution campaign on 5th day of August 2019 tagged #RevolutionNow” aimed at removing the President and Commander –in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria during his term of office otherwise known than by constitutional means.”
The Federal Government further accused Sowore of committing “cyberstalking”, contrary to Section 24 (1) (b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention) Act, 2015 and punishable under the same section of the act.
He was charged with illegal transfer of funds contrary to Section 15(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 and punishable under the same section of the act.
Government alleged that Sowore had on April 2, in Lagos and Abuja, transferred by means of swift wire, the sum of $19, 975 from his United Bank of Africa Plc Account No. 3002246104 credited by City Bank, New York City, USA, into Sahara Reporters Media Foundations GTB Account No. 0424048298 with the aim of concealing or disguising the illicit origin of the funds,
It alleged that he also transferred $16, 975 from the same UBA Account credited to him by LANDRUM of 7e 146 W 29thStreeet, New York, NY10001, USA, via City Bank Plc, the aim to conceal the illicit origin of the funds.
The charge, which was endorsed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, was signed by a senior state counsel, Mr. A.M. Alilu.
FG has already lined-up six witnesses against the defendants, including bank officials from UBA and GTB.
The detained activist and publisher of Sahara Reporters, was the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, (AAC), in the last general election, has been in custody of the Department of State Service, DSS, since August 2 when he was arrested.
The court had granted DSS leave to detain him for 45 days to enable the agency to conclude its investigations.
The court gave the agency the leave to apply for extension of the detention order after September 21.
DSS had told the court that Sowore got foreign sponsorship to wage war against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
It tendered evidence to prove that Sowore held meetings with both the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, and members of the proscribed Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN.