Federal High Court Releases Sowore’s Expired Passport, DSS refuses to release phones, pay N3million damages

The Federal High Court in Abuja has released the passport of human rights activist and #RevolutionNow convener, Omoyele Sowore after his farcical trial for alleged treason was discontinued by the Nigerian government.

Following a ruling on Monday by Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court I Abuja discharging Sowore of treasonable felony after the Federal Government of Nigeria applied to discontinue the frivolous trial, the Federal High Court Registrar in Abuja released his passport seized since 2019 as part of his bail condition.

In his ruling, Justice Nwite struck out the charges and ordered that all items seized from Sowore and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare should be returned.

However, the lawless Nigerian secret police, also known as the Department of State Services (DSS), has refused to release Sowore’s phones illegally seized during his arrest on August 3, 2019.

They have also refused to pay the N3 million in damages awarded to him by the court.

SaharaReporters last Thursday reported that a Notice of Discontinuance stamped by the Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday was signed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) on Wednesday.

Sequel to the discontinuation, SaharaReporters learnt on Tuesday (today) that Sowore’s passport which had since expired as of October 2021 was handed over to him by the Acting Deputy Court Registrar in charge of Litigation, Mimiddo at around 3:95 pm on Tuesday.

Sowore was accompanied by one of his attorneys from Falana & Falana Chambers, Abubakar Marshal.

Apart from the DSS seizure of his phones, an account he maintains with Guaranty Trust Bank has also remained frozen since 2019 as the bank claims that the DSS obtained a court order to freeze the account.

Sowore’s lawyers said they intended to sue Guaranty Trust bank for partaking in the reckless violation of his fundamental human rights as the courts never granted perpetual orders to freeze bank accounts of persons under trial.

Sowore last week vowed to sue the Nigerian government and the DSS for N100 billion as compensation for the trauma they caused to his person, wife, children and family, cost of time, resources among others suffered in the course of the trial.

He said, “I will sue the Federal Government of Nigeria and the DSS for N100 billion as compensation for the cost of time and resources, mental and financial trauma that they cause my person, my businesses, my wife and children and my extended family and also for the assassination of my brother, Olajide Sowore during the five-year period that I was abducted, detained and confined to Nigeria while they seized my passport.”

He also noted that the government “must pay the N3 million that was awarded to me by the court as compensation during the course of the trial”.

SaharaReporters had reported that the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday ordered the DSS to release his three mobile phones, passport, and the sum of N10,000 seized from him when he was arrested.

Recall that the decision to discontinue the trial was communicated to the Federal High Court in Abuja via a notice of discontinuance, dated February 14 and filed by Lateef Fagbemi, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

Nwite also ordered the release of one mobile phone belonging to his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare and the sum of N1,500 seized from him.

The notice of the discontinuation read, “By virtue of the power conferred on me under Section 174 (1) (c} of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, Section 107 (1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and all other powers enabling me in that behalf, I Lateef Olasunkanmi Fagbemi, SAN intend to discontinue charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/235/2019″

The federal government arrested Sowore and Olawale Bakare, the co-defendant, in August 2019 for planning to organise a protest tagged #RevolutionNow.

They were accused of treason and attempts to overthrow former President Muhammadu Buhari.

Meanwhile, the DSS is notorious for violating the rights of Nigerian citizens even when courts intervene.

For instance, in December 2019, DSS operatives attempted to re-arrest Sowore and Bakare inside the courtroom of a Federal High Court in Abuja barely 24 hours after his release.

The situation turned rowdy as Sowore’s supporters shielded him from the lawless DSS operatives.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja had released Sowore and Bakare the previous day and expressed displeasure over their continued detention by the agency.

Justice Ojukwu had ordered that the defendants be released within 24 hours and adjourned the case till Friday, December 6, for a report of compliance. But the operatives tried to rearrest the activists from right under the nose of the helpless judge.

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