Lawyers sue FG, Lagos State over violation of citizen’s right to protest
Human right lawyer, Chief Malcolm Omirhobo, has filed a suit before the Federal High Court, Lagos, challenging the violation of his right as well as the right of citizens to protest by the Nigerian Army.
The suit also challenged the involvement of the Nigerian Army in the internal security fabric and architecture of Nigeria without being called upon to do so by civil authorities.
Mentioned as respondents in the suit are the Lagos State Government, the Governor of Lagos State, the Attorney General of Lagos State, the Federal government of Nigeria (4th defendant), the president of Nigeria (5th defendant), the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), National Assembly (7th defendant), the Inspector General of Police, Lagos State Commissioner of Police and the Nigerian Army (10th defendant).
He also stated that on October 20, 2020, while the protest was on, some men of the 10thdefendant opened fire with live bullets at unarmed Nigerians who were at the Lekki Tollgate, Lagos peacefully protesting, with the attack resulting in the injury and death of some of the protesters.
Omirhobo prayed the court to declare that all Nigerians are entitled to their fundamental right to life, dignity of human person, personal liberty, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association and movement as guaranteed and enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.
He also prayed the court to declare that all Nigerian citizens are entitled to their fundamental rights, except where their fundamental rights are being lawfully restricted and/or derogated by any law reasonably justifiably in a democratic society.
The applicant claimed that the 10th defendant cannot on its own undertake and/or partake in the workings of the fabric and architecture of the internal security of Nigeria without first being called upon by the 5th defendant in writing to do so and subject to conditions prescribed by an Act of the 7th defendant.
Omirhobo then prayed the court for an order restraining the 10th defendant her servants, agents and/or privies from using life bullets on peaceful unarmed protesters to disperse them from exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association with other persons and right to freedom of movement, and compelling and/or directing the 4th and 5th defendant to rejig, equip and reform the Nigerian Police Force to carry out her constitutional duties and responsibilities.
In a 71 paragraph affidavit deposed in support of the suit, the applicant swore that a large section of the Nigerian Public, particularly the youths including himself, began a nationwide protest in Lagos State and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on October 8, 2020 tagged #ENDSARS to vent their grievance to the defendants of the misconduct of the police officers of the Special Anti-Armed Robbery Squad (SARS) for their brutality and violation of the fundamental rights of Nigerians.
“That the 5th defendants have not called upon the 10th defendant to be involved in the internal security fabric and architecture of Nigeria. That there is no Act of the 7th defendant backing up the involvement of the 10th defendant in the workings of the fabric and architecture of the internal security of Lagos State or Nigeria.
“That the 5th defendant has not by directions in writing delegate his powers relating to the operational use of the Armed Forces of the federation to warrant the 10th defendant involvement in the workings of the fabric and architecture of the internal security of Lagos State or Nigeria.
“That there is no law reasonably justifiable in a democratic society restricting and/or derogating the fundamental rights of the Plaintiff and the Nigerian Public,” he averred.
The applicant therefore swore that the essence of the case is for the Court to make judicial pronouncement on the propriety or otherwise of the 10th defendant involvement in the internal security fabric and architecture of Nigeria without being called upon by the civil authorities.
Also, another lawyer, Yusuf Temiola Nurudeen has sued president Buhari at the federal high court, Lagos over violation of fundamental human rights of citizens.
Joined among the respondents are, the Attorney General of the Federation, the executive governor of Lagos state, attorney general of Lagos state, the Nigerian army, the Nigerian police force, the chief of army staff, the Inspector General of Police, Brigadier-General Francis Omota, Commissioner of Police Lagos State and M.I. Yahya.
The applicant in his originating summons questioned whether the action of the defendants in dispersing the peaceful #EndSARS protesters at Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020, with brute force by shooting life bullets at Nigerian youths by officers and men of 5th defendant is not violation of the plaintiff’s and other #EndSARS peaceful protesters right to freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly having regard to Sections 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) and Articles 9 (2) and 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) LFN, 2004.
In a 53-paragraph affidavit in support of the suit, the applicant said that the protest was peaceful until the armed thugs attacked them at Alausa on October 15, 2020.
“The armed thugs were believed to have been sponsored by the government for the fact that they were conveyed in Bus Mass Transit (BRT) buses belonging to the Lagos State Government in partnership with Lagos Bus Services Limited. We repelled the thugs, regrouped and continued with the peaceful protest demanding an end to police brutality,” he swore.
Nurudeen prayed to the court to declare that by the virtue of Sections 214, 215(4) of the 1999 Constitution and Sections 4 and 10 of the Police Act Cap 19, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 the 6th, 8th and 10th defendants have woefully failed in their constitutionally assigned responsibilities for their deliberate refusal to provide Nigerian youths with adequate security and protection for #EndSARS peaceful protesters at Lekki Toll Gate, while exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
He also want the court to order the defendants jointly and severally to pay the families of all Nigerian youths that lost their life at Lekki Toll Gate the sum of N50million each as damages and pay the plaintiff the sum N5million for the violation of his right to freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly guaranteed and protected by Sections 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution and Articles 9 (2) and 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) LFN, 2004.