Nigeria’s secret police, the State Security Service (SSS), says it is investigating mobile phones seized from rights activist Omoyele Sowore for links to terrorism.
Mr. Sowore had filed a suit against the agency praying the court to compel the SSS to return his mobile devices seized during the time of his arrest in 2019.
During the hearing of the suit which came up before Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Wednesday, Mr. Sowore’s counsel, Funmi Falana, probed the legality of keeping Mr. Sowore’s devices and some money totaling N10,000 belonging to Mr. Sowore, in the custody of the SSS especially without a court order guaranteeing same.
Counsel to the SSS, however, said that the agency did not seize the phone, instead, they were recovered during the arrest and were still being investigated for links to terrorism.
The State’s counsel also raised objection concerning the application on grounds that Mr. Sowore is still facing trial on certain charges before another judge.
Mrs. Falana faulted the objections and urged the judge to dismiss the objections on grounds that it lacked merit because the SSS did not present the phones as evidence in the matter it brought against Mr. Sowore and also has not obtained an order permitting the seizure of the device.
She also asked the judge to order the SSS to pay N20,000,000 in damages to the applicant.
Mr. Sowore, who is also a pro-democracy campaigner was arrested on August 3 for calling for a peaceful protest against the Buhari regime, demonstrations which he tagged “RevolutionNow.”
Despite his arrest, the protests were held nationwide on August 5 with many Nigerians participating across thirty-one cities in the country. After the first #RevolutionNow protests on August 5, 2019, several protests were also held to demand the unconditional release of the activist.
The SSS initially sought an order to keep Mr. Sowore in detention for 90 days to conclude their investigation, the court however granted 45 days after which the SSS failed to arraign him in court or release him.
Amidst many protests from Nigerians and the intervention of the United States, Mr. Sowore was released on December 5, 2019, but his freedom was short-lived as he was rearrested inside the Federal High Court, Abuja by SSS operatives and was kept in custody until Tuesday, December 24, 2019, when Attorney General Abubarkar Malami directed his release.