A number of Civil Society Organisations and leaders in the country have been speaking about the continued detention of former presidential candidate and #RevolutionNow protest leader, Omoyele Sowore by the Department of State Security Service (DSS).
Recall that Justice Taiwo Taiwo ruled that the DSS can detain Sowore for 45 days following his arrest on the eve of the #RevolutionNow protests. (The DSS originally applied to detain Sowore for 90 days)
What they are saying:
- Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) disclosed that it has sent an open letter to all member and observer states of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, urging them to: “urgently convene a special session on Nigeria over arbitrary arrests and repression by officers of the Nigeria Police Force and other security forces of ‘RevolutionNow’ protesters, organizers, activists, and journalists who covered the protests on Monday across the country.”
- The Socialist Party of Nigeria said the arrest of Sowore before investigations revealed that the DSS lacked any substantial evidence or merit in its decision to detain Sowore. The group expressed disappointment with the Nigerian Judiciary: “We are not surprised in the SPN that the Nigerian courts have wittingly or unwittingly joined this grand contrivance of the state to smother democratic rights. In the final analysis, the capitalist court is not the last hope of the common person.
- Activist Lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) said the courts wrongly exercised its discretion and the order was a setback to the democratic order. “What was the extreme urgency in the matter (usually the main ground for granting ex parte orders) that the judge couldn’t order the government (who in any case was already detaining Sowore) to put him on notice? The court could also have ordered Sowore to show cause why he should not be detained for 45 days,” he queried.
- Afenifere, a Yoruba Socio-political Group declared Sowore’s detention as an illegal action that has been validated via the legal process. The group’s spokesperson, Yinka Odumakin said: “Sowore was arrested before he could commit an offense and the Department of State Services (DSS) seems to want to go shopping for evidence to prosecute him. Having failed to allow him to commit the offense before he was peremptorily arrested, the DSS should free Sowore or charge him to court so the judicial process can take its course.”
- International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) warned that such anti democratic actions by the government might lead to the rise of lawlessness as citizens could take laws to their hands. “The security agencies are also pushing Nigerians to the point of radical self-help or underground radicalisation, capable of quadrupling and escalating the country’s criminal enterprises or industries. We regret that the same government that is sponsoring by proxy, anti-Amnesty International protests can turn around to declare dissenting street protesters as persona non grata in Nigeria and their protests as ‘terrorism’ or ‘treason’.”
- Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) condemned the judgement and accused the High Court of abuse of powers. “Is the judge now over-ruling the plethora of supreme court decisions which are to the considered effect that the granting of bail is within the discretion of the presiding judge? By the way, why should the court or any government agency such as DSS hide under some nebulous provisions of a statute to subject a citizen to the denial of his fundamental freedoms of movement and liberty even when the constitution says he is innocent until the court determines otherwise?”
Bottomline: If the DSS successfully goes ahead with the detention of Sowore for this period unchallenged, then a precedence that imperils our democracy would have been established. Quite a let down.
Update: Activist groups are planning a #FreeSowore protest on Wednesday.