Legal news

DSS to pay human rights defender Sowore N2m after high court ruling

Court Orders Secret Police, DSS To Pay Human Rights Activist, Sowore N2 Million, Apologise Over Illegal Seizure Of Phones

Sowore, the publisher of SaharaReporters, had instituted a suit against the DSS to compel the agency to return his phones seized since August 2019 when he was first arrested.

In a judgment delivered on Wednesday, Justice Anwuli Chikere described the action of the secret police as illegal and a violation of the activist’s rights.
She also asked the DSS to apologise to Sowore in two national dailies.

The activist’s lawyer, Mrs Funmi Falana had prodded the DSS lawyer on the illegality of the seizures when the case came up on December 1.
But the agency’s lawyer could not provide a valid court order that led them to seize the phones and take N10,000 from his hotel room during his abduction in August 2019.

The DSS had told Justice Chikere that the phones were “recovered” during his arrest and not seized.
The agency added that the phones were still being checked for links to terrorism.
Two lawyers from the Ministry of Justice also argued that they were raising preliminary objection to the lawsuit because Sowore was undergoing trial before another federal judge.

Falana, however, faulted the positions, while informing the judge that apart from not obtaining a court order to seize the phones, the government had also refused to return the phones and monies despite entreaties.
She further stated that the charge sheets produced in court did not state that the phones were part of the evidence before the federal judge.
She urged the judge to dismiss the preliminary objections and order the return of Sowore’s phones as well as pay N2 million in damages to the applicant.

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