Minor protest broke out at the headquarters of the Department of State Services (DSS) on early Saturday over the continued “illegal” detention of Omoyele Sowore, Publisher of SaharaReporters and convener of RevolutionNow Movement. The international journalist – Sowore was arrested in Lagos since August 3, 2019 and subsequently flown to Abuja where he has been detained since then. Last month however, a Federal High Court (FHC) sitting in Abuja granted him bail but the DSS refused to release him even as he met the bail conditions.
When Nigerians reacted to the “lawlessness” of the government agency over their impunity and refusal to let Sowore go as ordered by the court, Dr. Peter Afunanya, the spokesman of the secret police, acknowledged that the agency had received the order to release Sowore but said the service had not freed him because no one showed up on his behalf.
Afunanya added that the DSS operates within the ambits of the law and would not disrespect the orders of the court. He also stated that the move to ensure that somebody comes to take “delivery” of Sowore was for accountability sake. But in what looked like a sharp contradiction to Dr. Afunanya’s claims, on Saturday morning, lawyers, supporters and family members of the activist visited the DSS headquarters but were surprisingly denied access to Sowore.
Mr Abubakar Marshal, one of the activist’s lawyers, arrived at the DSS office at 10am alongside some members of Sowore’s family but security operatives prevented them from gaining access to the facility. The operatives manning the gate had asked them of their mission and the lawyer introduced himself, saying they were there to pick up the SaharaReporters publisher, his client.
The DSS claimed they would not be allowed into the complex until clearance is secured from above. This development led to disagreement as the lawyer vowed not to leave the office of the DSS until Sowore was released. In the heat of the argument, a legal director at DSS put a call to Marshal, saying he was not around. This prompted some of the supporters of Sowore to stage a protest outside the headquarters of the secret police. The group also vowed to continue occupying the DSS headquarters until Sowore is released to them.