Court Awards N1m against FG for Disrupting #RevolutionNow Protest

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Davidson Iriekpen

A Federal High Court in Lagos has slammed N1million fine on the federal government for disrupting the #RevolutionNow protest of August 5, 2019.

It also ordered the government to publicly apologise to those behind the #RevolutionNow in three national daily newspapers for disrupting their protest.

The court awarded the N1 million in favour of a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje, who said he participated in the #RevolutionNow protest and was among those tear-gassed by security agents.

Ogungbeje, who instituted the suit against the government, had participated in the nationwide protest organised by Mr. Omoyele Sowore who was arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) on August 3.

He said himself and other participants were deprived of their right to peaceful assembly and association, as enshrined in sections 38, 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution.

The applicant told the court that before agreeing to participate in the protest, he checked and made sure it was lawful.
Narrating his ordeal at the take-off point in Lagos, he said: “I met agents and operatives of the respondents who had barricaded the venue of the peaceful protest for good governance in Nigeria.

“I was teargassed by 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 cause.”

Ogungbeje asked the court to award a cost of N500 million against the government.

Delivering her judgment, Justice Maureen Onyetenu agreed with the applicants 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.

She described the disruption of the protest by the police as “illegal, oppressive, undemocratic and unconstitutional.”

The judge also condemned the mass arrest, harassment, tear-gassing and detention of the protesters.

But the judge upheld the submission of the DSS that it was not involved in the disruption of the protest.