HOW Court awards N1m against Nigerian Govt for disrupting #RevolutionNow protest says FG actions illegal, oppressive, undemocratic and unconstitutional

Ordered the Federal Government to tender a public apology to the applicant in three national daily newspapers

Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday awarded N1m against the Federal Government of Nigeria over the police disruption of the August 5, 2019 #RevolutionNow protest organised by publisher of SaharaReporters and former Presidential candidate of African Action Congress (AAC) Omoyele Sowore.

Sowore was arrested by the Nigeria's Department of State Services on August 3
trumped-up Charges.
The Nigerian court awarded the N1m in favour of a Lagos-based lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, who said he participated in the #RevolutionNow protest and was among those tear-gassed by security agents.

The court, in a judgment 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.

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

Ogungbeje had urged the court to award N500m as general and exemplary damages against the Federal Government, DSS, and the Attorney General of the Federation, but the court only awarded N1m.

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 said when he was co-opted into the #RevolutionNow protest, as a lawyer, he checked the constitution and found that it was lawful. He, however, 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 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, the court also ordered the Federal Government to tender a public apology to the applicant in three national daily newspapers.

However, Buhari led federal government has been known for fragrantly disobeying the court orders and ruling since it inception.

National President of Revolutionary Lawyers' Forum, Tope Akinyode hailed the decision of court in a statement on Monday, that government opened up Nigeria to the highest level of disgrace when it cowardly arrested Convener of the #RevolutionNow Movement, Mr Omoyele Sowore, on August 3, 2019 for organising the protest.

According to him, the ruling showed that Sowore and co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, were innocent of the trumped-up charges government had brought against them at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

“We commend Hon. Justice Maureen Onyetenu for her sound reasoning in awarding the sum of N1m and compulsory apology in three national dailies against the Federal Government for wickedly and disgracefully disrupting the RevolutionNow protest on August 5, 2019.

“The Federal Government had opened up Nigeria to the highest level of disgrace when it cowardly arrested Convener of the RevolutionNow Movement, Mr Omoyele Sowore on 3rd August, 2019 for imploring Nigerians to flood the street in protest against the maladministration of the President Muhammadu Buhari regime.

“We had painstakingly taken time to warn the government that the RevolutionNow Movement was entirely constitutional and that the ongoing trial of Sowore on trumped up charges was a big disgrace.

“However, just like the classical quotation that "those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad", the government ignored our call for reasoning.

“Now, we have been vindicated in our position by the judgment today wherein the judge held that the police disruption of the protest on 5th August, 2019 was “illegal, oppressive, undemocratic and unconstitutional”.

“Indeed, the ongoing sham trial of Sowore is absolutely illegal, oppressive, undemocratic and unconstitutional too.

“We hereby urge Hon Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu to follow the impressive reasoning of Justice Onyetenu and decisively quash the baseless charges against Sowore which has been lingering for a while now so that Sowore and his co-defendant would be set free to go about with their businesses without hindrance.”

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