Justice Nicholas Oweibo of a Federal High Court in Lagos has summoned the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to appear before him over the arrest of the Convener of the ‘RevolutionNow’ group, Omoyele Sowore and other Nigerians in connection with the August 5, 2019 #RevolutionNow protest.
The judge, in a ruling on an ex-parte motion filed by a lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, said the DSS and the IGP must appear before him on September 4 to give reasons why he should not order them to immediately and unconditionally release Sowore and the protesters.
The lawyer had told the court that he filed the motion on behalf of himself and others who participated in the #RevolutionNow protest.
The Federal Government, DSS and the IGP were joined as co-respondents in the motion.
Ogungbeje, who said he also participated in the #RevolutionNow protest but was not arrested, urged the court to declare as unconstitutional and illegal, the 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.
“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.
“I was deprived of my 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 his 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”, the lawyer said.
He subsequently urged the court to order the immediate release of those arrested and detained.
However, rather than ordering the release of the detainees as requested by Ogunhbeje, Justice Oweibo said justice demands that he first hears from the Federal Government, DSS and the IGP.
He consequently 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.