Sowore files N200m suit against police, Ned Nwoko

Activist and Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore, has filed a rights enforcement suit against the police and a former House of Representatives member, Ned Nwoko.


In the suit he filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, Mr Sowore, seeks N200 million damages and public public apology from the defendants for his alleged unlawful arrest and detention by the police.


Specifically, the former presidential candidate, sued the Nigeria Police Force, the Inspector-General of Police, the Commissioner of Police, FCT Command, and Mr Nwoko as the first to the fourth defendants, respectively.


He described Mr Nwoko as “acclaimed billionaire” in the suit marked FHC/CS/ABJ/239/2022.


‘How I was arrested’

Mr Sowore claimed in the suit that the police, allegedly instigated by Mr Nwoko, arrested him as he stepped out of the Court of Appeal premises in Abuja where he had visited to monitor a case on February 24, 2022.


“That a horde of police officers of the 1st respondent, activated and instigated by the 4th respondent (Mr Nwoko), laid siege at the entrance of the Court of Appeal Abuja on February 24, 2022 while I was attending a court session, and on stepping out of the court, around 4pm of the day, I was arrested by these policemen on the order of the 3rd respondent and on the instigation of the 4th respondent,” Mr Sowore stated in an affidavit he filed in support of his suit.


He said he was eventually taken to a police facility commonly called ‘Abattoir’ in Abuja where he said he was detained up till 9 p.m. on the day of the arrest “without justification whatsoever.”


Mr Sowore, who, on Tuesday, declared his ambition to again run for the presidential election in 2023, denied any wrongdoing.


“I did not at anytime breach any known law or commit any crime to justify my arrest and eventual detention by officers of the 1st respondent,” he insisted.


But he recalled that Mr Nwoko, had through his lawyers, written to Sahara Reporters Media Foundation, demanding the retraction of the publications they alleged were libelous against him.


He said although he is the founder of Sahara Reporters, “a legal entity distinct from me and having its headquarters in New York, USA, while I am now resident in Nigeria”, “I do not in any way determine the stories that are published on the Sahara Reporters platform.”



As part of his prayers, Mr Sowore, though his lawyer, Tope Temokun, urged the court to declare among others, that his arrest and detention on February 24, 2022, by the police over a Sahara Reporters publication amount to a breach of his personal liberty and freedom of movement.


These rights, his lawyer argued,are guaranteed under sections 35(1) of the Nigerian constitution and Articles 6 and 12 of the African Charter on Human an Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.


He also urged the court to order the four defendants to publish a public apology to him in two reputable national dailies for violating his rights.


He also sought an order compelling the defendants to pay him N200 million “as general and exemplary damages” for the violation of his rights.


The defendants have yet to respond to the suit.



Mr Sowore had said he was arrested by the police at the Court of Appeal where he had gone to witness a case concerning his party, the African Action Congress (AAC).


His lawyer, in a statement, said he was immediately transferred to the SWAT headquarters at Abattoir, Abuja, where he was detained for five hours.


Earlier in August 2019, the State Security Service (SSS) arrested Mr Sowore in Lagos over his planned #RevolutionNow protest against the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.


The SSS, which defied series of court orders to keep the activist in custody, only released him in December 2019 following mounting pressure from within and outside Nigeria.


The Buhari administration charged him along another #RevolutionNow protester, Olawale Bakare, with treasonable felony.


But Mr Sowore continues to participate in protests against the government in Abuja where the court restricted his movement to as part of the bail conditions granted him.


The police have arrested and detained him on different occasions since then.


He recently raised the alarm over the deactivation of his National Identification Number (NIN) by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).


He announced the reactivation of his NIN after a seven-day ultimatum he issued to the agency lapsed.


But the NIMC has denied ever deactivating Mr Sowore’s NIN. The NIMC had described Mr Sowore’s claim as “bizarre.”


It explained that the activist might have possibly witnessed a routine connectivity issue that sometimes hampers NIN verification on its platform. 

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