A Federal High Court in Abuja, the nation’s capital, yesterday granted the request of the Department of State Services (DSS) to further detain the Convener of #RevolutionNow, Omoyele Sowore, for 45 days, pending the conclusion of its investigation into the protest. In a ruling on an ex parte motion filed by the DSS, Justice Taiwo Taiwo said he would allow the agency to detain Sowore for 45 days, in the first instance; this could be renewed upon an application to enable the security agency complete its investigation.
Justice Taiwo said the 45 days will begin from today and end on September 21, when the DSS will be at liberty to re-apply for a detention permit, should it fail to conclude its investigation at the expiration of the first 45 days. In the motion ex parte filed by the DSS under Section 27(1) of the Terrorism (Prevention Amendment) Act, the agency accused Sowore of engaging in acts of terrorism.
DSS’s lawyer Godwin Agbadua, who led Shimana Azer, argued the motion on Tuesday and tendered two digital versatile discs (DVDs), one of which contained recording of Sowore’s meeting with Nnamdi Kanu, of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). The second DVD contained an interview where Sowore was said to have disclosed that members of the equally proscribed Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) were going to join forces with him to bring down the Nigerian government.
In yesterday’s ruling, Justice Taiwo averred that he had read the written submissions of the applicant and seen the DVDs attached to the application as exhibits. The nation reports that, the judge said the use of the word “may” in Section 27(1) of the Terrorism (Prevention Amendment) Act gives the court the discretion to decide whether or not the request for detention should be granted.
He said: “As aforesaid, the facts presented by the applicant are allegations against the respondent, which must be proved at the appropriate time and place. “However, one of the legitimate duty and functions of the applicant is to investigate the facts alleged for the purpose of taking appropriate action, thereafter, of either prosecuting the respondent, if the evidence warrants, or to discharge the allegation.
“I am of the respective view that from the wording of Section 27(1) of the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act, under which the application is brought, the use of the word, ‘may’ connotes that this court has a discretion in this matter. “I have looked at the facts presented by the applicant. I shall fail in my duties if I do not act on those facts, at least until the contrary is proved.
“I shall, therefore, grant the application only to the extent that the applicant shall detain the respondent for a period of 45 days, in the first instance, which may be renewed upon application by the applicant for further number of days, if investigation is not concluded by the applicant within the 45 days granted by the court.
“The return date shall be 45 days from today, August 8, 2019. It, therefore, means that this suit is adjourned till September 21, 2019,” Justice Taiwo said.The DSS said, in a supporting affidavit to the motion, that it arrested Sowore “on reasonable suspicion of his involvement in terrorist activities”.
The agency said it got information that Sowore had been meeting with members some terrorist groups with a view to undermining the nation’s security. It alleged that the respondent formed an alliance with a fugitive, Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the proscribed terrorists group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a proscribed terrorists group in Nigeria, to launch series of attacks on the country, with a view to violently removing the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The DSS added that after closed-door meetings between the duo in the United States of America (U.S.A), they addressed a media briefing, where they stated their resolve to form an alliance against the Nigerian government. The agency exhibited a digital versatile disc (DVD) of its recordings of the media briefing, which it marked as Exhibit SSS 1.
The DSS stated that Sowore held series of meetings with some foreign groups outside Nigeria, including in Dubai, where millions of dollars were given to him to sponsor widespread attacks on the country to violently remove the President and free Shi’ite leader Ibrahim Yaqub El-Zakzaky. It added that in furtherance to the plans to violently free El-Zakzaky from custody, the respondent held several meetings with a proscribed terrorist organisation – the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) – where they planned how to carry out attacks to force the President to free El-Zakzaky.
“The respondent hid his agenda under the hashtag of RevolutionNow to mobilise gullible and unsuspecting members of the public to unleash violence to change the government of the country. “The respondent stated in one of his videos that Shiite members, who are members of the proscribed terrorists group, were going to join forces with him in bringing down the government.”
The DSS also tendered a DVD of the recording where Sowore was said to have made statement. It was marked: Exhibit SSS 2. It added: “The respondent hid under what he claimed to be a call for mass protest to launch attacks on innocent citizens. “The planned attacks have caused innocent citizens across the country fears and apprehension as he planned to shut down socio-economic activities nationwide.
“There are strong indications the respondent has collaborators from outside of the country to destabilize the country for their selfish reasons. “The investigation has assumed a wider dimension and sophistication requiring time and advance expertise to conclude.
“The activities of the respondent constituted threats to national security.“Some of the suspects are currently at large and premature release of the defendant will jeopardise the ongoing investigation.”