A lawyer walks through the compound at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi district in Lagos, Nigeria, May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
Reuters

A Lagos-based lawyer has taken the Nigerian government before a federal court seeking an order compelling it to unconditionally release all persons arrested and detained in connection with the #RevolutionNow protest.

Olukoya Ogungbeje, a human rights activist, in the suit before the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, is also seeking an order compelling the respondents to “unfailingly produce” before the judge all the arrested and detained persons.

Joined as respondents in the suit are the State Security Service (SSS), Inspector-General of Police, and Attorney-General of the Federation.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at several locations across the country on August 5 to participate in #RevolutionNow, a series of planned protests against bad governance in Nigeria.

But those in Lagos met a violent crackdown by armed police officers after they began to converge on the National Stadium in Surulere. At least nine people werearrested and taken away by the police after physically assaulting and using tear gas to disperse the protesters.

In neighbouring Ogun State, four people were arrested and charged to court for conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and conducts likely to cause a breach of peace.

Across the country, more than 56 persons were arrested in connection with the protest, according to Inibehe Effiong, a lawyer and activist.

Earlier, on August 3, SSS operatives took Omoyele Sowore, a key figure behind the protest, into custody for calling for a revolution.

Five days later, the secret police secured a court order allowing them to detain the Sahara Reporters publisher and former presidential candidate of the African Action Congress for an initial 45 days.

‘No offence committed’

In his exparte application, Mr Ogungbeje, who is suing for himself and on behalf of those arrested in connection with the protest, said the action by the Nigerian government and her agents is a “grave constitutional infraction.”

The lawyer, who said he was also at the venue of the protest in Lagos, said they were deprived of their constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

“The right to peaceful protest is a constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Mr Ogungbeje stated in his application.

“By engaging in peaceful protest, the applicant and other persons have not committed any offence known to law to warrant the treatment meted out to them by the respondents and their agents.

“The acts and actions of the respondents have infringed on the provisions of the Constitution and the rights of the protesters.”

The matter comes up before Justice Chuka Obiozor on August 14.

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