A Lagos-based lawyer, Malcom Omirhobo, has sued the Nigerian Police at a Lagos Division of the Federal High Court for allegedly threatening to arrest popular Nigerian musician, Tuface Idibia, over a mass protest he planned last February.
The lawyer, in a class action, sued for himself and on behalf of millions of Nigerians.
Joined as respondents in the suit are: The Inspector General of Police, The Attorney General of the Federation. The Commissioner of Police Lagos State and The Attorney General of Lagos State.
Last January, Tuface had called for a nationwide protest, themed ‘OneNigeria,’ to raie awareness against worsening economic crisis across the country.
But the police, after initially promising to provide security, called on the musician to shelve the action in the “interest of peace and security.”
Two days to the protest, which had been scheduled for February 6th, Tuface announced the cancellation of the event citing security concerns.
The protest, however, went ahead on the planned date with civil society organizations and hundreds of Nigerians in Lagos and Abuja marching around the cities protesting against harsh living conditions.
In his suit marked FHC/CS/ 842/17, Mr. Omirhobo is seeking amongst other reliefs, a declaration that by the combined provisions of sections 39 to 41 of the constitution, it is the duty of the Police to provide security for intending protesters.
He avers that a failure of the police to provide the requisite security measures in favour of a planned protest which had been slated, but rather intimidate intending protesters, constitutes a breach of citizens fundamental right to peaceful Assembly.
On the day scheduled for the protest in Lagos, armed police officers had blocked access to the National Stadium, the start-off point for the protest. The officers, however, were forced to stand down after police commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, denied authorizing the action.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, Mr. Omirhobo announced appearance for the applicant, while there was no legal representation for the respondents.
He informed the court that he had yet to serve processes on some of the respondents in Abuja, and urged the court for time to do the needful.
Consequently, the trial judge, Chuka Obiozor, ordered that all processes be regularised.
He adjourned the suit until October 11 for hearing.
In the suit, the applicant is seeking a declaration that the coercion and intimidation of 2face, by threatening to arrest him if he dared to lead the planned protest, amounts to a breach of his freedom of association, expression, and movement.
Mr. Omirhobo also seeks a declaration that the intimidation of 2face by the police, leading to a cancellation of the planned protest, which was meant to March against the rising wave of hunger and recession in the country, constitutes a breach of citizens right to freedom of expression.
He is, therefore, seeking an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the respondents from further preventing the applicant or other aggrieved citizens of Nigeria, from organising or convening peaceful assemblies, meetings or rallies.
He is also seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from further issuing threat statements to members of the public, and other interest groups from exercising their fundamental rights.
The applicant is also, calling for a public apology from the respondents to the generality of Nigerians, for frustrating a planned peaceful protest.