Lagos: Lawyers argued on Wednesday whether
Nigeria`s President had the power to use heavily armed
soldiers and armoured tanks to stop a massive protest this
January in the nation`s largest city over spiralling gasoline
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 defence. Everybody in the whole
world knows what happened."
In its lawsuit, the Save Nigeria Group asks for USD
625,000 in damages and an injunction stopping President
Goodluck Jonathan from using the military to halt future
At a court hearing today in Lagos, Adebayo told Justice
Steven Adah that ruling in favour of the suit would
"strengthen our democracy."
Protests began in Nigeria after Jonathan`s administration
announced January 1 the removal of popular subsidies on
gasoline that keep prices low in the oil-rich nation.