It is good to see Nigerian lawyers fight to uphold the country’s constitution and protect the rights of the citizens of Nigeria. A ruling from Justice Adah, the judge presiding over the legal proceedings, is expected May 24th, 2012.
“Lawyers argued Tuesday whether Nigeria’s president had the power to use heavily armed soldiers and armored tanks to stop a massive protest this January in the nation’s largest city over spiraling gasoline prices.
The lawsuit brought by the Save Nigeria Group could be the strongest judicial test to presidential power in a nation long run by iron-fisted military rulers. The group said the government quashed the freedom of speech constitutionally guaranteed in this young democracy.
“No matter how deep they are into despotism, they still have a modicum of respect for the courts,” said Tope Adebayo, the head lawyer in the suit challenging the military deployment. “They don’t have a defense. Everybody in the whole world knows what happened.”
In its lawsuit, the Save Nigeria Group asks for $625,000 in damages and an injunction stopping President Goodluck Jonathan from using the military to halt future peaceful protests. At a court hearing Tuesday in Lagos, Adebayo told Justice Steven Adah that ruling in favor of the suit would “strengthen our democracy.”
Protests began in Nigeria after Jonathan’s administration announced Jan. 1 the removal of popular subsidies on gasoline that keep prices low in the oil-rich nation. Overnight, the price at the pump jumped from 45 cents per liter ($1.70 per gallon) to at least 94 cents per liter ($3.50 per gallon).
Labor and trade unions announced a nationwide strike that paralyzed business and daily life throughout the country. The government’s decision sparked rage as Nigerians as a whole view low gasoline prices as the only benefit the average citizen sees from the nation producing about 2.4 million barrels of oil a day. Subsidies have been in place since 1973 in a nation where those who can afford it depend on diesel and gas generators for electricity. . .” Bloomberg Businessweek has the full story.