The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Monday declared the arrest of Nigeria’s human rights activist, Omoyele Sowore, over his 2019 #RevolutionNow protest unlawful.
Delivering judgement in the fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by Sowore, the judge, Obiora Egwuato, asked State Security Service (SSS) to pay N1million to the activist.
The declaration is coming almost 3 months after a judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Anwuli Chikere, ordered the SSS to pay N2 million to Sowore over the unlawful seizure of his mobile phone at the point of his arrest in 2019.
The judge Chikere on December 8, 2021, ordered the SSS to immediately release the iPhone and a cash of N10,000 which were alleged to have been forcefully taken away from him without court warrant.
Monday’s decision came as another affirmation of court decisions that had validated the #RevolutionNow protest, and declared the arrest of others who participated in it as illegal, although the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation continues to prosecute him for organising the protest.
One of Sowore’s lawyers, Marshal Abubakar, who is of the law firm of a prominent human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, described Monday’s judgement as another victory recorded against the “notorious” SSS.
He said it was an affirmation of the rights of Mr Sowore and other Nigerians “to protest, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and right to movement.”
Sowore was sensationally arrested in a Gestapo manner by SSS operatives in Lagos on August 3, 2019, for planning to organise a protest tagged: “#RevolutionNow”.
The office of the Attorney-General of the Federation subsequently charged him and Olawale Bakare, who was arrested in Osogbo, Osun State, in connection to the protest, with treasonable felony, among other offences.
The prosecution accused them of planning to topple Buhari’s government.
Despite the trial court granting fresh bail to Sowore, the SSS still refused to release him until the government eventually bowed to local and international pressure in December 2019.
Since his release, Sowore has continued to organise protests against the Buhari administration and has on different occasions been arrested, manhandled or detained in the process.