The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has ordered the Department of State Services [DSS] to pay human rights activist Omoyele Sowore the sum of ₦2,000,000 for violating his fundamental human rights.
The activist had filed a fundamental human rights suit asking the court to compel the DSS to return his phones which were snatched from him in August of 2019 when he was first arrested.
Justice Anwuli Chikere who delivered the judgement on the matter on Wednesday, December 8, held that the action of the DSS was illegal and a violation of Sowore’s fundamental human rights.
The judge equally ordered the DSS to issue an apology to Sowore in two national newspapers.
On December 1 when the case up, Mrs Funmi Falana, Sowore’s lawyer, prodded the DSS of the illegal suizure. But the DSS failed to provide a valid court order mandating its officers to snatch Sowore’s phones and the N10,000 in his hotel room during his illegal arrest on August 3, 2019.
The DSS informed Justice Chikere that Sowore’s phones were not stolen nor seized, but that they were simply “recovered,” and further claimed that the phones were still being searched for links with terrorism, more than two years after the phones were illegally snatched.
Two government lawyers from the Ministry of Justice raised a notice of preliminary objection to the lawsuit with the argument that Sowore was standing trial before another judge of the Federal High Court.
In reaction, Mrs Falana rubbished the claims of the government lawyers, saying that besides snatching his phones and money without a valid court order, the items were not returned to the activist despite several entreaties. She further argued that the charge sheet produced by the Buhari dictatorship in court did not in way indicate that the phones were part of the evidence before any judge Sowore was standing trial.
She subsequently asked the court to dismiss the preliminary objection filed by the government and asked the regime to return Sowore’s phones and a ₦20 million compensation.
Sowore, a foremost Nigerian activist, was arrested on August 3, 2019 for mobilising Nigerians to storm the streets nationwide in demand of good governance from the Buhari tyranny.
He was illegally held until December 5, 2019 when he was grudgingly released after meeting the burdensome bail terms imposed on him.
The following day, being December 6, 2019, Sowore was violently re-arrested inside the courtroom before the presiding judge Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu by arms-wielding operatives of the Department of State Services. Following public backlash, the Buhari dictatorship released the activist under serious pressure, compounded by a letter from the Congress of the United States of America asking dictator Buhari to respect Sowore’s rights.
He has since been held in what the activist himself describes as “city arrest,” owing to his bail conditions which prohibit him from leaving Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.