Justice Maureen Onyetenu of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday declared the disruption of a protest organised by a group “#RevolutionNow” by the police on August 5, 2019 as “illegal, oppressive, undemocratic and unconstitutional.”
Justice Onyetenu, who made the declaration while delivering judgment in a suit filed by a Lagos lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, also order the federal government to pay the sum of N1 million as damages to the lawyer.
The judge also directed the government to apologize to Ogungbeje for the violation of his fundamental human rights in three national newsapapers.
The lawyer had gone before the court seeking N500 million as general and exemplary damages against the federal government, Department of State Services (DSS) and the Attorney General of the Federation.
He had claimed that he was one of the participated in the #RevolutionNow protest convened by the Publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore, but was tear-gassed by security agents despite the fact that the protest was a peaceful one.
In the affidavit, which was filed in support of the suit by Ogungbeje, he averred that when he was co-opted into the #RevolutionNow protest, as a lawyer, he checked the constitution and found that it was lawful.
He further alleged that when he got to the take-off point of the protest in Lagos he met agents and operatives of the respondents who had barricaded the venue of the peaceful protest for good governance in Nigeria.
Ogungbeje also claimed, “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.”
In her judgement, Justice Onyetenu agreed with the applicant that the Federal Government deprived him of his 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.
She, however, upheld the defence of the DSS that it was not involved in the disruption of the protest.