By Innocent Anaba
LAGOS—A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, ordered the Department of State Services, DSS and the Inspector-General of Police, IG 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.
Trial judge, Justice Nicholas Oweibo, in the order, said the DSS and the IG must appear before him to give reasons the court should not order them to immediately and unconditionally release Sowore and the protesters.
The court rule on 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, had urged the court to declare as unconstitutional and illegal police clampdown on the protesters and the arrest of Sowore by DSS.
He urged the court to make an order for the immediate and unconditional release of those arrested and detained.
Respondents in the suit are the Federal Government, DSS and the Inspector General of Police.
On why the arrested persons should be immediately and unconditionally released, Ogungbeje argued: “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.”
He further contended that he was deprived of his constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceful assembly and association and the right to freedom of expression.
He said: “On August 3, 2019, the convener of the protest, Mr. Sowore’s residence was forcefully invaded and put under siege, he was arrested, whisked away and detained in the detention facility of DSS.
“Mr. 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.”
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 Federal Government, DSS and the IG.
He ordered Ogungbeje to put them on notice and directed that the respondents must appear before him on September 4 to explain why Sowore and others should not be immediately released.