Yesufu, Davido, Johnson-Salami, Others Sued over #EndSARS Protests


•Ozekhome: Prosecuting protesters defeats purpose of states’ panels

By Davidson Iriekpen in Lagos and Alex Enumah in Abuja

An activist, Mr. Kenechukwu Okeke, has filed a criminal complaint before a Chief Magistrate’s Court in Abuja against 50 persons for their alleged roles in the #EndSARS protests that took place last month.

Okeke accused them of instigating the protest that triggered a riot that led to the destruction of his property. He demanded that the defendants who promoted the #EndSARS protests must be brought to justice.

Those listed as defendants include musician Damini Ogulu aka Burna Boy; David Adeleke popularly known as Davido; Folarin Falana popularly known as Falz; and social media comedians, Debo Adebayo aka Mr. Macaroni; and Maryam Akpaokagi aka Taoma.

Other musicians sued include, Peter and Paul Okoye; Innocent Idibia aka Tuface; Bankole Wellington popularly known as Banky W; Tiwa Savage; Michael Ajereh aka Don Jazzy; and Yemi Alade.

Apart from musicians, others listed as defendants include Senior Pastor, Daystar Christian Centre, Pastor Sam Adeyemi; activist, Aisha Yesufu; ex-Super Eagles legend, Kanu Nwankwo; a former Director-General, Bureau for Public Sector Reform, Dr Joe Abah; journalist, Kiki Mordi, and actors, Yul Edochie and Uche Jombo.

Others are ARISE NEWS Channel anchor, Laila Johnson-Salami, as well as social media influencers, Feyikemi Abudu, Olorunrinu Oduala, Pamilerin Adegoke, Japhet Omojuwa, Ayo Sogunro and Deji Adeyanju.

THISDAY gathered that Johnson-Salami, who is a member of Feminist Coalition, one of the groups that mobilised support for the #EndSARS protests, didn’t take part in the protests as she was in the office all through the period.

The case was instituted on Monday pursuant to sections 88, 109(a), and 110(1) (c) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.

In his supporting affidavit, Okeke said the defendants played active roles in the #EndSARS protests, which later became violent.

It read in part: “That the 1st to 50th accused persons between the 3rd day of October 2020 and the 28th day of October 2020, using Twitter, an Internet web source with URL within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did conspire amongst themselves to commit misdemeanor, to wit, promoting and acting in such a manner, with intent to assist in the promotion of #EndSARS and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 97(2) of the Penal Code Act, C53 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“That the 1st to 50th accused persons with intent to carry out some common purpose, assemble in such a manner or being assembled under the composition of #EndSARS as to cause persons in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to fear on reasonable grounds that such assembly needlessly and without any reasonable occasion may provoke other persons tumultuously to disturb the peace.
“Properties belonging to the complaint were egregiously destroyed by some riotous and tumultuous persons instigated and incited by the 1st to 50th accused persons.”

However, Idibia, popularly known as 2Baba, has said nobody has received any court summons or documents.

According to Efe Omorogbe, the consultant to 2Baba, they have no comment at the moment as they have not received any notice or summons to that effect.

“There’s no comment yet. We have not been served any paper. We have not received any formal summon.

We can’t respond to what is merely trending on social media until we receive a summons we can’t respond,” he said.

Meanwhile, a human rights lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), has said by arresting, prosecuting and freezing the bank accounts of #EndSARS protesters, the federal government is defeating the purpose of setting up states’ panels of inquiry into the protests.

Ozekhome said by taking such steps, the government has pronounced #EndSARS youths guilty even before the panels make their findings.

While justifying what the government did, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, had said those who promoted the protests and allowed it to degenerate into chaos must be made to face the full wrath of the law.

Shehu added that the country had been harmed by the #EndSARS protests.

“Everyone witnessed the massive looting of public and private properties, particularly in Lagos, Calabar, Plateau, Taraba and some other states, even the FCT.

“Now, the laws of the country must be allowed to decide, to rule on wrongdoing on the part of just anybody.

“I am not particular about any celebrity or promoter, but this country has been harmed enormously and people should be prepared to account for what they did,” he had stated.

However, faulting the federal government’s moves to prosecute the promoters of the #EndSARS protests, Ozekhome said if the government has nothing to hide, it should allow the various panels of inquiries to finish their work and present their findings for discussion at the national level.

He said: “If the government at the centre is taking this kind of decision, what happens to the various panels and commissions set up by state governments?

“What will be the consequence of the findings of those commissions of inquiries? Will the government not be unduly interfering with the activities of those panels by obviously working from the answer to the question?

“Will those panels not be readily duty-bound to agree with the position of the federal government in a country where all governors defer to the President like in a monarchy?

“These are some of the questions that state governments have to ask before taking further steps.

“If it has nothing to hide, the federal government should make haste slowly and allow the various states to do their work because we are operating a federal system of government.

“At the end of the various panel sittings, when the governors meet at their state council meetings, they can then present the finding and discuss the issue at the national level.

“But if the government begins to take proactive steps such as blocking the account of the protest sponsors, arresting the protesters and arraigning them, then the government has already pronounced them guilty even before the panels make their findings.”