An operative of the Department of State Services, Rasheed Olawale, admitted at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday that no act of violence or revolution was linked with SaharaReporters publisher and former presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Omoyele Sowore, who was arrested for allegedly planning to topple the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in August 2019.
The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation is prosecuting Sowore and Olawale Bakare on two counts of treasonable felony.
They were accused of organising a protest tagged #RevolutionNow allegedly aimed at toppling the Buhari regime.
The first prosecution witness, Olawale, who is a Principal Staff Officer of the DSS, had opened his testimony in the trial on March 11, 2020.
The witness had in his evidence-in-chief said the DSS received “an intelligence report that the convener of #RevolutionNow (Sowore) planned to carry out a revolution by revolting, along with his associates, against the democratic government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria throughout the whole nation.”
But under cross-examination by Sowore’s lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), on Friday, the witness who was asked if anyone engaged in violence during the August 5, 2019 #RevolutionNow protest, said, “Not to my knowledge; no person engaged in violence.”
Also asked if he was aware that Sowore participated in the protest in some cities on August 5, 2019, the witness said, “No, he was in custody at the national headquarters.”
Falana also asked the witness if there was “a revolution on August 5, 2019, anywhere in Nigeria.” The witness said, “No, not to my knowledge”.
Fielding more questions from Falana, Olawale, who confirmed that he was 42 years old, said he was a teenager when the then President Shehu Shagari administration was overthrown on December 31, 1983.
Asked if he was aware of the history that the Shagari administration was toppled by Major General Muhammadu Buhari, who is now the Nigerian President, the witness answered “Yes”.
Responding to another question, the witness said he could not recall if Buhari was charged with treason or treasonable felony as a result of his roles in the coup that ousted Shagari.
The witness confirmed that he was aware that some of those who took part in the #RevolutionNow protest were charged with “unlawful assembly and not treason”.
But when asked by Falana, he said he was not aware that the defendants were discharged and acquitted and that a Lagos court declared the August 5, 2019 protest as lawful.
He also said he was not aware that the sum of N1m was awarded in favour of Sowore and other protesters in the case.
Meanwhile, the prosecuting counsel, Bagudu Sani, on Friday, moved an application seeking the prohibition of persons not playing any role in the proceedings except the parties, lawyers and accredited journalists.
He also applied that the witness box be shielded from the public except for the counsel and accredited journalists.
He also urged the court to direct that the real names and addresses of prosecution witnesses should not be disclosed.
But Falana opposed the application, which, he said, would violate Section 36 of the Constitution that provides that the defendants are entitled to public trial.
Ruling, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu noted that the fear expressed that the #RevolutionNow protesters could attack prosecution witnesses was not backed by any evidence.
She however ruled that only lawyers, parties involved and accredited journalists would be allowed into the courtroom and to see the witnesses.
The judge adjourned the case till January 26, February 4 and 5, 2021 for continuation of hearing.