The Federal High Court in Lagos State has awarded N1million against the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government over the police disruption of the August 5, 2019 #RevolutionNow protest.
The court awarded the amount in favour of a lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje and others, who said they participated in the protest but were tear-gassed by security agents.
The court also ordered the Buhari administration to tender a public apology to the applicants in three national daily newspapers.
The nationwide demonstration was convened by Omoyele Sowore. He was arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) on August 3, 2019 and only released on December 24, 2019.
In his affidavit, Ogungbeje recalled that when he got 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. I have been denied my fundamental constitutional rights of peaceful assembly and association by the respondents without cause.”
Ogungbeje then urged the court to award N500m general damages against the Federal Government, DSS and the Attorney-General of the Federation, but the court only awarded N1millon.
The court, in a judgment by Justice Maureen Onyetenu, declared the disruption of the peaceful protest by the Nigerian government, through the police, was “illegal, oppressive, undemocratic and unconstitutional.”
The judge agreed with Ogungbeje and others that the Nigerian 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.
The judge, however, upheld the defence of the DSS that it was not involved in the disruption of the protest.