Court orders FG to pay N1m, tender apology for disrupting #RevolutionNow protest

Court orders FG to pay N1m, tender apology for disrupting #RevolutionNow protest

Monday, May 4, 2020 4:24 pm

RevolutionNow protesters and Police

Akin Kuponiyi
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos south west Nigeria has awarded N1million cost against the Federal Government of Nigeria over police disruption of the August 5, 2019 #RevolutionNow protest.
The court awarded the sum  in favour of a Lagos-based lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, who claimed to have   participated in the #RevolutionNow protest and was among those tear-gassed by security agents.
The nationwide protest was convened by the publisher of SaharaReporters, Mr Omoyele Sowore, who was arrested by the Department of State Services on August 3, 2019.
The court, in a judgment delivered by Justice Maureen Onyetenu, declared the disruption of the peaceful protest by the Federal Government, through the police, as “illegal, oppressive, undemocratic and unconstitutional.”
The judge agreed with the applicant in the suit, Ogungbeje, who sued on behalf of himself and other participants in the protest, that the Federal Government deprived them of their right to peaceful assembly and association, in violation of sections 38, 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The judge also condemned “the mass arrest, harassment, tear-gassing, and clamping into detention” of the protesters.
Ogungbeje in the suit had urged the court to award the sum of  N500million as general and exemplary damages against the Federal Government, Department of State Security Services, DSS  and the Attorney General of the Federation, but the court only awarded N1million.
The judge also upheld the defence of the DSS that it was not involved in the disruption of the protest.
In the affidavit, which he filed in support of the suit, Ogungbeje averred that  when he was co-opted into the #RevolutionNow protest, as a lawyer, he checked the constitution and found that it was lawful.
However, he said on getting to the take-off point of the protest in Lagos “I met agents and operatives of the respondents who had barricaded the venue of the peaceful protest for good governance in Nigeria.
“I was tear-gassed by the agents of the respondents and the peaceful protest was forcefully disrupted by the respondents.
“I have been denied my fundamental constitutional rights of peaceful assembly and association by the respondents, without any justification ”
Apart from the N1million award, the court also ordered the Federal Government to tender a public apology to the applicant in three national daily newspapers.

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