The State Security Services (SSS) on Monday August 2, seized a phone belonging to a Vanguard photojournalist, Gbenga Olamikan, at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.
The SSS operatives confiscated the phone following Mr Olamikan’s bid to take pictures of the 12 detained Yoruba Nation activist Sunday Adeyemo associates, known as Igboho, brought to court on Monday.
Justice Obiora Egwuatu had ordered Nigeria’s secret police to produce the detainees in court on two occasions.
The court, on July 23, ordered the SSS to produce detainees on July 29 and show cause why they should not be released on bail per the provision of Section 32 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015 and other extant laws of the country.
The judge gave the order after counsel to the applicants, Pelumi Olajengbesi, moved the ex parte motion (FHC/ABJ/CS/647/2021 dated July 7 and filed July 8).
Mr Egwuatu held that this would enable the court to inquire into the circumstances constituting the grounds for their arrest and detention.
The judge, who granted the applicants’ plea, through the affidavit of urgency filed on why the matter should be heard expeditiously irrespective of the imminent court vacation, adjourned the matter until July 29.
However, the SSS also failed to bring the detainees before the court on the adjourned date.
Mr Egwuatu, who expressed concern over the continuous disregard of the court’s order by the SSS, ordered that the 12 applicants be produced in court today (Monday).
But when the SSS brought the detainees into the court’s premises on a bus, photojournalists and cameramen from media houses took position to take their pictures. An officer in mufti seized the Vanguard journalist’s phone.
The SSS released the phone to the journalist after about an hour. But it took the intervention of other journalists for the phone to be given back to the owner.
The SSS prevented journalists from taking pictures and making a video recording of Igboho’s associates.