The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Bwari, Abuja, on Wednesday, halted the criminal complaints case instituted by a lawyer against 50 activists and celebrities at a Chief Magistrate’s Court in the aftermath of the violence that erupted during last year’s #EndSARS protests.
The judge, Bello Kawu, made the order stopping the case in a ruling on an application filed by the 50 defendants to challenge the criminal complaints pending before the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Wuse Zone 6, Abuja.
A lawyer, Kenechukwu Okeke, in the complaints filed at Chief Magistrate’s Court, asked that the 50 defendants be brought to justice for allegedly promoting the #EndSARS protests which he claimed led to riots that caused destruction of lives and property in different parts of the country.
The anti-police brutality protest tagged #EndSARS had started peacefully in October 2020 until it was later hijacked by hoodlums who hid under the cover of the genuine protesters to loot and unleash violence in major cities of the country.
Those sued by Mr Okeke in the suit pending at the magistrate’s court include activists, musicians, comedians, among other celebrities, who posted solidarity messages on social media in support of the genuine #EndSARS protesters at the time.
They include: Deji Adeyanju, Damini Ogulu, also known as Burna Boy, David Adeleke (Davido), Folarin Falana (Falz), Debo Adebayo (Mr Macaroni), and Maryam Akpaokagi (Taoma).
Others are, Peter and Paul Okoye (formerly P-Square), Innocent Idibia (Tuface), Bankole Wellington (Banky W), Tiwa Savage, Michael Ajereh (Don Jazzy) and Yemi Alade.
The defendants had proceeded to the FCT High Court to challenge the criminal complaints, with Mr Okeke, along with the Nigeria Police Force and the FCT Police Command, joined as the defendants.
They argued that the case pending before the lower court was meant “to gag the applicants and other celebrities from exercising their rights under section 40 and 44 and other enabling sections of the constitution”.
They added that allegation that they allegedly committed the offences of conspiracy and misdemeanour of lending voice to “an unlawful assembly cannot and do not exist in law whatsoever and no provision of a penal codification/penalty exists for same”.
Granting the prayers of the plaintiffs on Wednesday, Mr Kawu issued an order of “stay of all proceedings of the direct criminal complaint” pending before the chief magistrate, “Omolola Tolulope O. Akindele sitting at Chief Magistrate Court II, Wuse Zone 6 in the suit, Kenechukwu Okeke vs Deji Adeyanu and 49 others in suit CR/49/2020”.
The judge also granted an order restraining the Nigeria Police Force and the FCT Police Command sued as the second and third defendants in the suit “from taking any further steps, arresting and or taking any unconstitutional/illegal steps in the form of any guise as it concerns the subject matters whatsoever before this court herein as it concerns all parties in the proceedings”.
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