The Convener of #RevolutionNow protests, Omoyele Sowore, on Friday urged the Federal High Court in Abuja to set aside its order permitting the Department of State Services to detain him for 45 days.
Sowore, through his lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), contended in his 19-ground application that the ex parte order issued by the court breached his constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights.
The presidential candidate of the African Action Congress for the February 23 election added that the order amounted to legalising the illegality of his detention for about four days prior to the issuance of the order on Thursday.
Filed along with his application on Friday was an affidavit of urgency seeking an urgent hearing of the suit his lawyers said “is one of fundamental importance that affects salient fundamental rights of the applicant herein”.
The DSS on August 3 arrested Sowore over his call for a revolution ahead of the #RevolutionNow protests which held in some parts of the country on August 5.
Ruling on an ex parte application by the DSS to detain the Sahara Reporters publisher for 90 days to investigate him for treason-related allegations, Justice Taiwo Taiwo on Thursday granted the DSS permission to hold the activist for only 45 days.
The judge cited section 27(1) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Amendment Act 2013, and the facts alluded to by the DSS in its ex parte application in issuing the detention order.
The judge noted the 45 days period, starting from Thursday, would end on September 21, the date he also fixed for the next hearing session.
He, however, added that the order of detention for 45 could be renewed for further days upon an application by the security agency, in the event that its investigation could not be concluded within the first 45 days.
Sowore on Friday prayed for the court’s order “setting aside, discharging and/or vacating the ex parte order of this honourable court for the detention of the respondent/applicant for a period of 45 days made on August 8, 2019”.
Some of the 19 grounds on which his lawyers based his prayer on were that, “The said order of the honourable court breached the fundamental rights provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“The detention of the respondent/applicant for an initial four 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 an illegal detention by the applicant/respondent.
“The applicant/respondent dumped the video evidence in support of its application on the honourable court whilst the learned trial judge watched same in his chambers and not in the open court.
“The respondent/applicant was arrested on August 3, 2019 before the planned protest that took place August 5, 2019 while he was already under the custody of the applicant/respondent.”
They added, “The persons who participated in the protests of August 5, 2019 have been charged with unlawful assembly at the magistrates’ courts at Ebute Meta, Lagos State and Calabar, Lagos State.
“The applicant/respondent had concluded investigation of this case and announced its findings.’’
“The respondent/applicant had also volunteered statement to the applicant/respondent.
“At the time of the hearing of the motion ex parte, the respondent/applicant was in custody of the applicant/respondent at Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court.”
Falana argued that his client’s detention “has exceeded the maximum period a court of law can allow in line with the provisions of Section 35 (4)(a) of the Nigerian Constitution”, which he said only permitted detention for “a maximum period of two months from the date of their arrest”.
He added that the court order made August 8 “was based on a wrong presumption and mistake that the complaint against the respondent therein relates to terrorism”.
He added, “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 magistrates’ court.”
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