The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has fixed January 19, 2022, for the hearing of the main appeal filed by human rights activist, Omoyele Sowore, challenging the ruling of the Federal High Court in Abuja, confining him to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) since August 2019.
Operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) had arrested Sowore in the early hours of August 3, 2019, for calling on Nigerians to take to the streets in peaceful demonstrations on August 5, 2019, to demand a better country from the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He was kept in unlawful detention from that period until December 5, 2019, when he was finally released on bail despite two court orders earlier sanctioning his freedom.
In a twist of event, 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 trial Judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu had granted Sowore N100 million bail with two sureties who must be residents of Abuja and have landed properties within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The court had held that the sureties must deposit original documents of those properties.
The judge also ordered that one of the sureties must deposit N30 million with the court pending the determination of the case.
Sowore was also restricted to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) pending the determination of the case.
When the matter came up on Tuesday before a three-man panel headed by Justice Peter Olabisi Ige, the court was of the view that since the application sought by the activist was incorporated in the main appeal, there was no need to hear the application in isolation.
The court noted if it should hear the application, it would still adjourn the matter for a ruling.
The presiding judge, therefore, adjourned the matter to January 19, 2022, to hear the substantive appeal and pending applications.
Earlier, Sowore's lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) said the appellant’s brief had been filed.
He also told the court that he had spoken to the counsel for the respondent, Mr. Bagudu and asked him if he had any counter affidavit in the matter.
Falana, however, noted that Bagudu had not responded.
Falana in his submission urged the court to give the applicant a short date due to the urgency of the appeal.
"In the view of the urgency of this appeal, we urge your Lordship to give us a date in January for hearing of the substantive appeal since the prayer before the court is incorporated in the main appeal," he said.
Falana, who also addressed journalists after the proceedings, said, " We had an application to allow Mr. Omoyele Sowore to travel to the United States to attend to his health and attend to his son who is ill and also to meet with his family, having had his movement restricted to Abuja since August 2019.
"The court looked at the application and expressed the view that the application we are seeking is incorporated in the main appeal which is to have the stringent conditions attached to his bail vacated by the court appeal.
"So we argued with the court and said that instead of hearing this application and adjourning it for judgement, we should take some time and go for appeal and the court has graciously given us January 19, 2022, for the hearing of the main appeal."