Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court will on Wednesday hear the motion filed by the detained publisher of Sahara Reporters and presidential candidate of the African Action Congress in the February 2019 elections, Omoleye Sowore, challenging his detention by the Department of State Services.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo had granted an application by the security service to detain Sowore for 45 days.
In addition, the judge ruled that the DSS was at liberty to approach the court for another detention order if it was unable to conclude investigations into the substantive matter within the time frame.
However, in motion on notice, Sowore had through his counsel, Femi Falana (SAN) asked the court to set aside its order.
After a prolonged delay in the hearing of the motion, Falana had sometime last week, approached the court seeking a date for the hearing of the application.
Filed along with his application was an affidavit of urgency seeking an urgent hearing of the suit on the grounds that it “is one of fundamental importance that affects salient fundamental rights of the applicant herein”.
Our correspondent’ findings at the court revealed that the application would come up for hearing on Wednesday.
The motion brought pursuant to sections 6 (6) (B), 35 and 36(4) of the 1999 constitution and Section 293 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 is anchored on that ” the said order of the Hon court breached the fundamental right provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“The detention of the respondent/applicant for an initial 4 days period before the grant of the ex-parte order is illegal by virtue of Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“The order ex-parte brought pursuant to Section 27 (1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2013 was obtained by the applicant/respondent to legalise illegal detention by the applicant/respondent.
“The applicant/respondent dumped the video evidence in support of its application on the Hon Court whilst the learned trial judge watched same in his chambers and not in the open court.
“The respondent/applicant was arrested on Saturday 3rd August 2019 before the planned protest that took place on Monday 5th August 2019 while he was already under the custody of the applicant/respondent.
Falana equally argued that “the persons who participated in the protests of 5th August, 2019 had been charged with unlawful assembly at the Magistrate Courts at Ebute-Metta, Lagos State and Calabar, Lagos State.
He submitted that “the applicant/respondent motion ex parte filed 5th August, 2019, did not disclose any fact capable of linking the respondent /applicant to any terrorism activity.
That in the same vein the motion filed 5th August, 2019 did not in the supporting affidavit allude to facts linking the respondents/applicants to any terrorism activity.
The applicant’s detention has exceeded the maximum period a court of law can allow the respondent to detain the applicant in accordance with the provisions of Section 35 (4) (a) of the Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) 2011 which only empowered the applicant/respondent to detain the applicants for a maximum period of two months from the date of their arrest.
That the Order made on 8th August, 2019 was based on a wrong presumption and mistake that the complaint against the respondent therein relates to terrorism.
That by virtue of Section 293 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, an application for the remand of any suspect is to be made before a magistrate court.
Sowore was arrested in the early hours of Saturday by operatives of the Department of State Services in a hotel in Lagos.
The state agency said Sowore was arrested on account of the #RevolutionNow protest which he had spearheaded.
Sowore was moved to Abuja on Sunday morning and is currently being detained in the custody of the DSS.
The ex parte motion by the DSS marked FHC/ABJ/CS/ 915/19 had sought for the order of the court to detain Sowore beyond the 48 hours of his arrest required by law.
The application was brought under section 27 (1) of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2013 and was supported by a seven- paragraph affidavit deposed to by Mohammed Bello.
Attached to the application were two video clips marked exhibit SS 1 and SS 2 respectively.
While exhibit SS1 is a video statement by Sowore with Nnamdi Kanu, exhibit SS 2 showed statement by members of the proscribed Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) that they were going to join forces with Sowore to bring down the government.