On August 03, 2019, the Department of State Service (DSS) operatives in a commando style abducted human rights' activist and the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the 2019 elections, Omoyele Sowore.
Sowore was illegally arrested around 1:30am in Lagos State for creating and championing ‘#RevolutionNow’, a hash tag used to criticise President Muhammadu Buhari's administration on the social media over poor governance.
The human rights’ activist and Amnesty International designated Prisoner of Conscience had accused the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration of badly managing the affairs of the country and called on Nigerians to reject the wickedness of the government.
He was moved to the agency's headquarters in Abuja where he was illegally detained for 144 days despite different court orders issued for his release.
In a twist of event, lawless DSS operatives invaded the Federal High Court in Abuja on December 6, 2019, to rearrest him without any court order.
He remained in unlawful detention until 18 days later when he was released by the secret police for the second time.
The DSS had accused Sowore of baseless crimes like money laundering and that he was plotting to overthrow President Buhari even though it failed to produce any evidence to substantiate its claim.
An 18-minute long video showed how the activist was arrested by the secret police.
CAUGHT ON TAPE: How Nigeria's DSS Operatives Illegally Abducted Sowore— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) August 5, 2019
WATCH FULL VIDEO: https://t.co/T1NiDRiaCV
Exclusive CCTV footage of the moment @YeleSowore was criminally abducted by the DSS operatives in Lagos. #FreeSowore #FreeSoworeNow #RevolutionNow pic.twitter.com/0ymB12Nb9h
In the video, DSS operatives entered Sowore's building complex around 1:05am and commenced on a search that took almost 20 minutes.
While his initial contact with the operatives wasn't caught on tape, the activist was apprehended after a slight altercation in the gym.
When he eventually showed up on camera, Sowore was firmly held by one DSS operative while another pushed him to usher him out of the building.
He was then driven out in a black vehicle as one of his associates struggled with the operatives.
In 2020, the United Nations Working Group declared the detention of human rights activist as arbitrary and illegal under international law.
It also called on the Nigerian government to stop the unlawful prosecution of Sowore for his attempts to organise a peaceful protest.
The UN Working Group stressed that Sowore's detention was arbitrary from the outset, pointing out that the charges against him were quite vaguely defined and that such vagueness seems to have been used to make an ordinary exercise of freedoms sound like a threat to national security and a terrorist act.
The group had said, "The source reports that, in the early hours of the morning of August 3, 2019, two days to the planned protests, Mr Sowore was arrested at his hotel and held for days without being formally charged. After one of his family members granted an interview with Democracy Now calling for his release, the authorities immediately denied Mr Sowore access to his family for over two months.
"The Department of State Services publicly stated that Mr Sowore's 'call for a revolution' presented a threat of insurrection that warranted his arrest. The source notes that the public widely knew that Mr Sowore's call for a peaceful pro-democracy protest was not a call for undemocratic political insurrection, let alone a violent upheaval. There was no warrant for Mr Sowore's arrest, and he was detained in the custody of the Department for five days without being brought before a judge.
"On August 6, 2019, the Department of State Services sought an ex parte order from the Federal High Court in Abuja to detain Mr Sowore for an additional 90 days, to conduct investigations, without formally charging him. On August 8, 2019, the court granted the request to extend his detention, under section 27 (1) of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2013, but permitting the Department to detain Mr Sowore for 45 more days.
"The source states that the request was granted under an overly vague provision of the antiterrorism law from 2013. The court refused to hear the motion to quash the 45-day detention order until September 21, 2019, the day the detention order expired.
"Mr Sowore was detained for a total of 48 days without formal charges filed against him. On September 20, 2019, seven criminal charges were brought against him, including the crime of cyberstalking and for allegedly insulting the President of Nigeria online. Others were treasonable felonies and money-laundering. To date, no evidence of any wrongdoing for those extremely serious charges has been produced by the authorities.
"The source notes that the authorities rely solely on Mr Sowore's lawful public statements and free exercise of his right to freedom of expression."