Premium Times, one of Nigeria’s investigative online news mediums, has lashed out at a national daily in the country.
The Nation Newspaper earned the attack of the online medium when it published a story reporting the intention of the federal government to file a petition of judicial misconduct against the Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who granted Omoyele Sowore, the detained leader of the RevolutionNow Movement bail.
Mr Sowore, who publishes Sahara Reporters was granted bail after the 45-day detention order granted to the Department of State Services (DSS) elapsed on September 21.
He has since remained in the custody of the DSS despite meeting his bail conditions. The security agency which earlier claimed not to have been serve the order of the court, chased away the court bailiff who, alongside the legal counsels of the publisher, went to serve them the order of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
After the report was published by the newspaper, the online medium while analysing the story said it was meant to: deliberately misinform and mislead the reading public; justify the unwarranted and irresponsible disobedience of the court order granting Omoyele Sowore bail and frustrate the prospect of his being granted a post charge and arraignment bail should he be arraigned on the seven count charge of treasonable felony, fraud and insulting President Muhammadu Buhari.
Premium Times also said the story is meant to “intimidate, harass and embarrass Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who acted appropriately, judicially and very judiciously in granting Omoyele Sowore bail, upon the expiration of the 45 days he had previously granted the SSS to detain and investigate Omoyele Sowore regarding the criminal allegations made against him.
“By the story, very sadly, the Nation Newspaper has lent its journalistic weight to the waging of a psychological warfare on a judge for doing nothing other than performing his judicial functions and exercising his judicial powers under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended,” it said in the analysis published on its website.
“Contrary to the misinformation in the story that any person who is charged with the offence of treasonable felony in Nigeria is precluded from being granted bail, we make bold to say that all criminal offences, including capital offences, are bailable. Under Section 161 (1 & 2) of ACJA , 2015, “ a suspect arrested or charged with an offence punishable with death shall only be admitted to bail by a judge of the High Court, under exceptional circumstances “, including ill health of the applicant for bail , and “any other circumstances that the judge may, in the particular facts of the case, consider exceptional “. Under Section 162 of the Act, a defendant charged with an offence punishable with imprisonment for a term exceeding three years shall, on application to the court, be released on bail except in any of the circumstances listed under the Section.
“It is instructive to note that under Section 32 ( 1,2 & 3 ) of ACJA, where a suspect, taken into custody in respect of non capital offences, is not released on bail, after 24 hours , a court having jurisdiction with respect to the offence may be notified (orally or in writing) by an application on behalf of the suspect , and the court shall order for the production of the suspect, make enquirers into the circumstances of detention, and admit the suspect detained to bail as the court may deem fit.
“From the foregoing exposition of the law, it is crystal clear that contrary to the mischievous kernel of the story, all criminal offences that may be preferred against any persons in Nigeria ( including capital offences ) are bailable.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, Omoyele Sowore is not charged, among other offences, with “treason” (a capital or death penalty punishment offence ) but “ treasonable felony” (a life imprisonment offence as a maximum punishment). He is, therefore, eminently entitled to be granted bail, pending charge and arraignment or pending trial upon arraignment.
“By inspiring the publication of the story and by actually publishing same, the SSS and the Nation Newspaper have committed acts of criminal contempt against the Judge and the Court. What has been done is unarguably an interference in the administration of justice. The publication is purposed to cow the Judge and intimidate him. It is subversive of the independence of the Judiciary and its majesty in administering justice.
“We concede that the FG may lodge an appeal against the decision of the Court granting Omoyele Sowore bail. It may lodge a petition against the Judge if it so wishes and if there are justifiable and reasonable grounds to do so. But it cannot, lawfully and rightly, resort to a newspaper or media publication to scandalize the Court, misrepresent Court proceedings and decisions, or impugn the character or judicial reputation of the Judge, twisting the law and facts of this matter.
“As for the Nation Newspaper, it is important that it be reminded of the duty that is imposed on the mass media by the provision of Section 22 of the Constitution: “ the press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people “.
“When a newspaper that ought to take on the FG for flagrantly disobeying the order of the Court, granting Omoyele Sowore bail, is now peddling lies and falsehood to justify the disobedience of the order, it is no longer in doubt that the Newspaper is betraying its obligation imposed by the Constitution,” the online medium added while calling for the immediate compliance of the order in favour of the detained publisher.