Court declines Sowore’s request to review detention order


The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court presided over by Justice Nkeonye Maha, on Wednesday declined to entertain an application by convener of #RevolutionNow protests, Omoyele Sowore, challenging an order of the Federal High Court permitting his detention for a period of 45 days by the Department of State Services (DSS).


Justice Maha based her decision on grounds that she cannot review an order made by a court of equal jurisdiction and accordingly returned the case to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court; Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who had on August 8, 2019, ordered the detention of Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters for 45 days.


Though the DSS had in an ex-parte application prayed for the court’s permission to detain Sowore for 90 days to enable it conclude its investigations, the court however held that 45 days should suffice in the interim, saying the agency can seek another order at the expiration of the first if it was yet to conclude within the 45 days given.


Dissatisfied with the decision of the Court, Sowore, on August 9, filed an application requesting the court to set aside the ex parte order which permitted the DSS to keep him in custody for a period of 45 days. In a Motion on Notice, brought pursuant to sections 6 (6) (B), 35 and 36(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, section 293 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and under the jurisdiction of the Court, Sowore asked the court to vacate the order on the grounds that the order was made in violation of his fundamental human rights.


The motion filed by Sowore’s lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), was predicated on 18 grounds and supported by a 24-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Marshall Abubakar. When the matter was called, Falana urged the court to abridge the time and hear the application before the expiration of the 45 days. 


While submitting that the DSS has no power, under the law, to detain his client, Falana said the Court will be doing justice by hearing the application before the expiration of the 45 days. Falana argued that Justice Maha had the powers, under the law to review the decision of Justice Taiwo and cited several decisions of superior courts to buttress his submissions. He further submitted that Order 26, Rule 9 of the Federal High Court procedural Rule empowers the court to hear the application.


However, Justice Maha, in a short ruling said Justice Taiwo had, in his order, made on August 8, granted the DSS leave to hold Sowore for a period of 45 days, adding that, by the order, the return date in the matter shall be September 21, 2019.


“This means that this suit is adjourned till September 21 for hearing. This court cannot review the decision of a court of coordinate jurisdiction. I make an order, returning this case back to Court 10, before Justice Taiwo for the matter to be heard by him,” the judge held.