Court awards N1m against FG over disruption of #RevolutionNow protest
A Federal High Court in Lagos has awarded N1m against the Federal Government over the disruption of #RevolutionNow protest.
The court awarded the N1m in favour of a Lagos-based lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, who said he participated in the protest and was among those tear-gassed by security agents.
The nationwide protest was convened by Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore, after his arrest by the Department of State Services (DSS) on Saturday, August 3, 2019. Sowore was later released on Christmas eve on December 24, 2019.
The court in the judgment by Justice Maureen Onyetenu ruled that the disruption of the protest by the Nigerian Government through the police is “illegal, oppressive, undemocratic and unconstitutional.”
The judge agreed with Ogungbeje that the security agency deprived him and other citizens of their right to peaceful assembly and association in violation of sections 38, 39 and 40 of the 1999 constitution.
The judge also condemned “the mass arrest, harassment, tear-gassing, and clamping into detention” of the protesters.”
Before the judgement, Ogungbeje urged the court to award N500m as general and exemplary damages against the Nigerian Government, DSS and the Attorney-General of the Federation. The court, however, only awarded him N1m.
“I met agents and operatives of the respondents who had barricaded the venue of the peaceful protest for good governance in Nigeria,” Ogungbeje said.
“I was tear-gassed 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.”
Apart from the N1m award to Ogungbeje, the court also ordered the Nigerian Government to tender a public apology to the applicant in three national daily newspapers.