A Federal High Court in Lagos has declined to order the release of SaharaReporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore, and other persons in connection with the August 5, #RevolutionNow protest.
Vacation judge, Justice Nicholas Oweibo, said he needed to first hear from the Federal Government, Department of State Services (DSS) and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP).
He ordered the DSS and IGP to appear before him on September 4 to show cause why Sowore and other protesters in detention should not be immediately released.
The judge also ordered Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Olukoya Ogungbeje, who filed the ex-parte application seeking the detainees’ release, to put the IGP and DSS on notice.
Ogungbeje, who said he participated in the #RevolutionNow protest but was not arrested, filed the application on behalf of himself and other participants.
He prayed the court to declare as “unconstitutional and illegal police clampdown of the protesters and the arrest of Sowore by the DSS.”
He also sought an order for the immediate and unconditional release of those arrested and detained.
Joined as respondents in the application were the Federal Government, the DSS and the IG.
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.