The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos Wednesday ordered the Labour Party and its supporters not to converge at the Lekki toll gate for their ‘#Obidatti23 Forward Ever Rally’ billed to hold on October 1, 2022.
Justice Daniel Osiagor, who made the order, did not stop the supporters from holding the rally in four other venues in Lagos State.
Rather, the judge directed that the rally procession cannot stop or converge at the Lekki toll gate.
He added that the procession can pass through the toll gate to access Falomo Bridge and the four other venues where the rally plans to meet.
The judge directed the Inspector-General of Police and the Lagos State Police Commissioner to ensure compliance with the order.
Justice Osiagor made these orders in his ruling on a motion for injunction filed by 10 plaintiffs, including nine lawyers.
The plaintiffs, through their counsel Mr. Romeo Ese Michael, are seeking to, among others, restrain the LP, its presidential candidate Peter Obi, his vice Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, one Julius Abure and their loyalists from holding the rally on October 1, 2022, or any other date, in Lagos State.
They argued that a repeat or celebration of the “infamous” EndSARS protest of 2020 under the political guise of “#Obidatti23 Forward Ever Rally” will cause a breakdown of peace and result in post-traumatic stress disorder for them and the public.
The plaintiffs are Adedotun Ajulo Esq., Salamatu Suleiman Lewi Esq., Hakeem Ijaduola, Esq., Ogunbona Akinpelu Esq., Owolabi K. Oluwasegun, Esq., Mogbojuri Kayode Esq., Wuyep Mantim Nadom Esq., Dimimu Mabel, Esq., Kolawole Salami, Esq. and Mr. Wale Abe Lawrence.
The 1st to 10th defendants in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/1729/2022 are Obi, LP, Baba-Ahmed, Abure, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Commissioner of Police (Lagos State Command), Director-General (Department of State Services), Lekki Concession Company (LCC) Limited, Attorney-General of Lagos State and The Governor of Lagos State.
When the matter first came up on September 15, Justice Osiagor directed the plaintiffs to put all the defendants on notice and adjourned the hearing of the substantive motion till September 23, 2022.
On September 23, he further adjourned till Wednesday, September 28 to hear the motion for an injunction
At the resumption of proceedings on Wednesday, Justice Osiagor declined to hear a motion for preliminary objection filed on Tuesday, September 27, by Obi and Baba-Ahmed.
Obi’s counsel, Mr. Alex Ejezenare, SAN, prayed the court to adjourn the case to enable him move his motion challenging the court’s jurisdiction.
But Mr. Michael opposed him. The plaintiff’s counsel prayed the court not to toe that line of argument, adding that the business of the day was to hear the motion for interlocutory injunction which was ripe.
“The court can not be waiting for a (defendants’) motion which is yet to be served on many parties and can not stall the business of today. Therefore I plead passionately for the court to hear our motion for injunction which the business of today,” Michael said.
In a bench ruling, the judge upheld his argument.
“This motion was just filed yesterday (Tuesday) and it is not ripe, therefore it cannot truncate the business of today. It will be taken when it is ripe,” Justice Osiagor ruled.
Moving the application, Michael argued that Lagos State could not afford a repeat of what happened in 2020 at the toll gate.
“My lord, I wept when I was passing through Igbosere yesterday because of the destruction of Igbosere High court,” he added.
But counsel to respondents clarified that the rally was not to be held at the Lekki toll gate.
Ejezenare said the rally was scheduled to hold in Lagos on October 1 in four locations within Lagos none of which include the Lekki toll gate.
In his ruling and by consent of the parties, Justice Osiagor held that the Labour Party had a right to hold its rally in four places with the exception of the Lekki toll gate.
“The 1st to 4th Respondents should not converge at the toll gate gate. They can pass through Falomo but not to assemble there,” the judge held.
He adjourned the suit till November 4, 2022 for hearing.