Plans are underway to secure Sowore’s release — Falana

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Leading rights campaigner and lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), on Saturday, disclosed that plans were underway to secure the release of Sowore.

Prominent Nigerians, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former Vice President of World Bank, Oby Ezekwesili, amongst others, chided the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for the arrest.

Falana told Sunday Tribune he endorsed the revolution, but refused to confirm or deny his participation, saying any arrests in connection with protest for or against government would be illegal, considering the subsisting court orders regarding same.

He explained that one of the gains made by pro-democracy activists is getting the courts to outlaw procurement of police permit before exercising fundamental rights to free speech and peaceful assembly.

He went on memory lane to 2003 in Kano when he was briefed by President Muhammadu Buhari, then as a presidential candidate of the All Peoples Party (APP) and his party, to challenge the demand for permit by police, before a planned protest over the outcome of the year’s presidential election, could hold.

Falana said apart from defeating the government of the day and the police at a High Court where free speech, peaceful gathering and protest were declared constitutional, police permit for protest was also ruled illegal.

He noted that the icing on the cake was the decision of the Court of Appeal, arising from an appeal by the then government of President Olusegun Obasanjo, which completely knocked the bottom off the posturing of the security agencies regarding protest.

According to him, the intermediate court specifically ruled that peaceful gathering, protest and free speech are all part of sections 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution, which confer fundamental rights.

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