Nigeria: Court Summons DSS, Police Over Sowore's Detention

21 August 2019

Lagos — Justice Nicholas Oweibo, sitting at the Federal High Court in Lagos, on Tuesday ordered the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Inspector-General of Police to appear before it on September 4 over the arrest of SaharaReporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore, and other persons in connection with the August 5, 2019 #RevolutionNow protest.

The court said the DSS and the IG must appear before it to give reasons why it should not order them to immediately and unconditionally release Sowore and the protesters.

The ruling by the court followed an ex-parte application filed by Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Olukoya Ogungbeje, on behalf of himself and others who participated in the #RevolutionNow protest.

Ogungbeje, who said he also participated in the #RevolutionNow protest but was not arrested, urged the court to declare as unconstitutional and illegal police clampdown of the protesters and the arrest of Sowore by the DSS.

He urged the court to make an order for the immediate and unconditional release of those arrested and detained.

Also joined as respondents in the application were the Federal Government, DSS and IGP.

Giving reasons why the arrested persons should be immediately and unconditionally released, Ogungbeje said, "There has been a grave constitutional infraction committed by the respondents against the applicant and other persons who engaged in the peaceful protest for good governance in Nigeria."

The lawyer said he was deprived of his constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceful assembly and association and the right to freedom of expression.

"On the 3rd of August, 2019, the convener of the protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore's residence was forcefully invaded and put under siege; he was arrested, whisked away and detained in the detention facility of the 2nd respondent (DSS).

"Mr Omoyele Sowore has not committed any offence known to law to warrant the infringement and likely infringement of rights by the respondents.

"By engaging in the peaceful protest, the applicant and other persons have not committed any offence known to law to warrant the treatment meted out to them by the respondents and their agents," Ogungbeje said.

He urged the court to order the immediate release of those arrested and detained.

But rather than order the release of the detainees, Justice Oweibo said he needed to hear from the FG, DSS and the IGP.

He ordered Ogungbeje to put them on notice and directed that the respondents must appear before him on September 4 to show cause why Sowore and others should not be immediately released.

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