Mr Femi Falana, SAN, counsel Mr Omoyele Sowore, has reacted to a claim by the Department of State Services (DSS) that it was not served with copies of the order directing the release of the publisher.
In a telephone interview on Thursday evening, Falana, said he doubts that the statement made by the DSS spokesperson, Peter Afunaya, was authorised by the Director-General of the agency, Yusuf Bichi.
According to him, “the DSS has a duty to comply, not only with this order, but also with all the orders made by courts of law in Nigeria.”
The Punch Newspaper had reported a statement attributed to Mr Afunaya stating that the DSS was yet to receive the court order for Mr Sowore’s release.
“We have not received the court order. And his (Sowore’s) counsel is a very senior member of the bar and he knows the process to follow,” the paper quoted Afunaya as saying.
But Falana said he personally served the order and the notice of compliance by his client on the DSS.
“First of all, their lawyer was in court. And he heard the order when it was made. As a legal practitioner, he had an obligation to inform his client. Secondly, since Sowore was to be released to me, I have been going to the DSS office personally since Tuesday.
“We were not directed to serve them. But we did that for the avoidance of doubt. We submitted his passports, got the affidavit of compliance and I personally served them. I also sent the copies to the DSS DG through his phone line, because I have his personal phone line.
“We were there for hours. The head of the legal department pleaded with me to return today (Thursday). When I returned, they locked the DSS gates against me,” Mr Falana said.
The lawyer added that the information indicating compliance had been reported in both local and international media stressing that the least a truly law abiding institution would do in such circumstance was to send its lawyers to verify the reports.
“I’m not sure the person who is making this statement has the authorisation of his principals. We have filed the form 48 regarding the contempt of court. And in that form, the court order was also included.
“The DSS has a duty to comply with this order and not only this one, but every other order regarding the liberty of Nigerians, because this is a constitutional democracy,” Mr Falana said.