An Abuja Magistrate has varied the bail conditions earlier imposed on Mr. Omoyele Sowore and four other human rights activists, as the Sahara Reporters’ publisher appears in court today with an African Traditional Religion priest (Babalawo).
The Chief Magistrate, Mabel Segun-Bello while varying the bail condition of the 1st defendant (Sowore) said she was impressed with his attendance so far and asked him not to report to the FCT high court every Monday and Friday but only on the first and last working days of the month.
The 5th defendant, Mr. Damilare Adenola also got his bail condition varied to enable him to go to school, and write his examinations at Olabisi Onanbanjo University in Ago-Iwoye, Ogun state. He’s now allowed to travel outside Abuja. The 2nd defendant, Mr. Sanyaolu Juwon who works in Lagos was also granted leave to travel out of Abuja and go to work in Lagos.
The 3rd and 4th defendants, Mr. Bulus and Mr. Peter were also got their bail terms varied, and have been allowed to travel to Plateau and Nasarawa respectively. However, all the defendants are required to be present in court for trial at the next hearing.
A police witness, ASP Sylvester Utogan has also admitted before the magistrate court sitting in Abuja in the trial of the human rights activist, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, and four others that Nigerian citizens have rights as guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution to stage protests and also demand the resignation of any politician or government official in the country.
Utogan who while answering questions during cross-examination by the defense counsel, barrister Marshal Abubakar, on Tuesday admitted that citizens have the rights to stage a peaceful protest in line with the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
When asked if he was aware that the constitution guaranteed the rights of Nigerians to protest against any bad leader and also demand their resignation, Utogan said he was aware.
The prosecution witness who’s also a police officer however denied his involvement in the arrest of the defendants on 31st December 2020 at Lokogoma junction in Abuja when asked if he was part of those who assaulted and arrested the protesters. Utogan also denied having knowledge that President Muhammadu Buhari led a protest and called for the Egyptian revolution in the country after the announcement of the results of 2011 general election. When asked if he was aware that no treason charge was filed against any person who participated in the military coup deta’t in December 31st, 1983, that was spared headed by President Muhammadu Buhari, the witness said he was not aware.
He also admitted that there were large number of human and vehicular movement at the Lokogoma junction on the cross overnight. He was asked if he was aware that three motorcycles were seized from Okada operators on the day the defendants were arrested Utogan said he was not aware.
Marshal revealed that three motorcycles and a Mercedes Benz containing journalist materials that was seized from Sowore while covering the protest were returned to him upon the conclusion of investigation by the police. He however admitted that only banners and placards were recovered from the defendants on the day of the protest.
The prosecution counsel opposed other variation except for Sowore and Michael on the ground that there should be evidence to back the claims and requests, but the Magistrate rejected their opposition, and the case was adjourned to May 7th, 2021 for continuation of trial.