Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and counsel to Omoyele Sowore, has fired back at presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu for saying his client lied about the mission of a delegation led by the late Ismaila Isa Funtua, an ally of the president who visited him while in custody of the Department of State Services (DSS).
Falana who accused Shehu of attempting to distort the proceedings of the meetings, recalled how he and other patriots teamed up in 2006 to campaign for the release of Shehu, who was the spokesperson of former Vice-President Atiku Abukakar at that time.
According to him, the presidential spokesperson was detained by the DSS State and charged with the offence of “obtaining, reproducing and keeping classified material” in contravention of the official secrets act.
“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 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. 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 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 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.”