Court orders Fed Govt to pay lawyer N1m

By Robert Egbe

The Lagos Federal Supreme Court granted N1mllion against the Federal Government for using the police to stop the August 5, 2019 #RevolutionNow protest.

Judge Maureen Onyetenu awarded the sum in favor of a Lagos lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, who filed the lawsuit.

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In addition to the N1m award, the court also ordered the Federal Government to submit a public apology to the applicant in three national daily newspapers.

Ogungbeje told the judge he participated in the #RevolutionNow protest and was, alongside other protesters, gassed by security officers.

Judge Onyetenu confirmed his argument that the federal government's interruption of peaceful protest through the police was "illegal, oppressive, undemocratic and unconstitutional".

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The judge agreed with the plaintiff, who sued on behalf of himself and other protesters, that the Federal Government deprived them of their right to peaceful assembly and association, violating sections 38, 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution.

Read too: BREAKING: Court overturns Bayelsa vice-governor request

The judge also condemned "the mass arrest, harassment, use of tears and imprisonment" of the protesters.

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The national protest was called by the publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore, who was arrested by the Department of State Services on August 3.

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

The judge also confirmed the DSS 'defense that he was not involved in stopping the protest.

In the statement, which he submitted in support of the suit, Ogungbeje said that when he was co-opted in the #RevolutionNow protest, as a lawyer, he checked the constitution and found it was legal.

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He, however, said on arriving at the protest takeoff point in Lagos, “I met agents and agents of the interviewees who had barricaded the peaceful protest site for good governance in Nigeria.

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“I was brought to tears by the agents of the interviewees and the peaceful protest was violently interrupted by the interviewees.

"I was denied my fundamental constitutional rights of peaceful assembly and association by the interviewees, without just cause."

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