A human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), says he has received instructions from Sahara Reporters Publisher, Omoyele Sowore, to sue the Nigeria Police Force and its officers for torture.
The senior advocate said this in a message sent to our correspondent on Saturday.
Falana said his client was badly beaten and subjected to dehumanizing conditions in contravention of the Anti-Torture Act.
“Since Mr. Sowore’s fundamental right to dignity has been recklessly violated by the police we have his instructions to press for charges against all the officers who subjected him to physical and mental torture in contravention of the letter and spirit of the provisions of the Anti Torture Act of 2017,” he said.
He said from indications, the Nigeria Police Force is waiting for “orders from above” before releasing Sowore.
“Order from above” is a common term used in Nigeria to refer to a superior authority.
He said the police were holding his client for alleged breach of COVID-19 protocols but had denied him bail for two consecutive days even though the law says such offenses are bailable.
Falana further stated that his client had pointedly told the police that he had not breached COVID-19 protocols.
The activist said, “Mr. Sowore who was covering an event at the time of his arrest has maintained that he did not breach any of the COVID-19 regulations. He has been detained indefinitely on the basis of orders “from above.”
The lawyer said his client had been tortured and locked up in a detention facility along with armed robbery suspects.
Falana added, “The police officers who arrested Mr. Omoyele Sowore at Abuja on January 31, 2020, subjected him to severe beating and left him with bruises all over his body. As if that was not enough he has been locked up in the midst of armed robbery suspects at a notorious detention facility called abattoir maintained by the disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad in Abuja.
“The physical torture to Mr. Sowore was prolonged by the refusal of the police to provide him with medical attention. Although Mr. Sowore’s injuries are being treated by his personal physician, the police authorities have refused the application of the detainee for bail even though the alleged offense of breaching COVID-19 regulations is ‘bailable’.