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Sowore sues police, Nwoko over illegal arrest, seeks N200m damages

By Silver Nwokoro
01 March 2022   |   4:05 am
Human rights activist, Omoyele Sowore, has sued the Nigeria Police Force and three others at the Federal High Court, Abuja, over violation of his fundamental human right.

Omoyele Sowore. (Photo by KOLA SULAIMON / AFP)

Human rights activist, Omoyele Sowore, has sued the Nigeria Police Force and three others at the Federal High Court, Abuja, over violation of his fundamental human right.

Joined in the suit are the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba; Commissioner of Police, Abuja, CP Babaji Sunday and Ned Munir Nwoko. In his originating motion, Sowore wants the court to declare his arrest on February 24, 2022 within the precincts of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, by officers of the 1st respondent (Nigeria Police Force), acting under the instructions and authorisation of the 2nd respondent (Inspector General of Police) and 3rd respondent (Commissioner of Police Abuja) respectively, over publications allegedly made by Sahara Reporters, a legal entity, separate and distinct from the Applicant, amounts to a breach of his right to personal liberty and freedom of movement as guaranteed under Sections 35(1) and 41(1) of the 1999 Constitution and Articles 6 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, LFN 2004.

He also wants the court to declare that his arrest amounts to a breach of his right to personal liberty and freedom of movement as guaranteed under Sections 35(1) and 41(1) of the 1999 Constitution and Articles 6 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, LFN 2004 and as such illegal and unconstitutional.

Sowore wants an order of the court directing the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondents (Nwoko) jointly and severally, to pay him the sum of ₦200, 000,000 only, as general and exemplary damages for the violation of his fundamental rights as afore-stated.

In a 22 paragraph of affidavit in support of the originating motion, he swore that a horde of police officers laid siege at the entrance of the court of appeal, Abuja on February 24, 2022, while he was attending a court session.

According to him, on stepping out of the court around 4pm of that day, he was arrested by police officers on the order of the 3rd respondent. He said he was detained at a unit of the defunct SARS in Abuja popularly called ‘abattoir’.

“While I was in the police custody, I was presented with a petition by officers of the 1st respondent, which was written by the 4th respondent to the 3rd respondent against me alleging publications of news defaming his character.

“That after keeping me for several hours without any justification whatsoever, from hours of 4pm to the hour of 9pm in the night, officers of the 1st respondent eventually asked me to go home,” he deposed.

He averred that he does not see to the day-to-day running of Saharareporters, since he has been confined to Abuja since 2019 by a court in a different case with the Federal Government, adding that instead of the complainant pursuing his grouse against the publishing firm in a civil court, he instigated the officers to arrest him. He prayed the court to grant his application in the interest of justice.

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