Nigeria's First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, as well as the National Council of Women Societies, the State Security Services (SSS), and the Inspector General of Police were sued by one James Abah, an Abuja-based lawyer, for restricting and blocking traffic at the time of the Abuja Women Rally event.
In his suit, Mr. Abah, calling the Women Peace Rally a political campaign for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan, states it breached his and other Nigerians' right of movement (as guaranteed by Section 41 of the Constitution).
On August 15, 2013, thousands of women gathered to celebrate peace and empowerment of Nigerian women. The event, which started from old parade ground and ended at the Eagle Square in Abuja, was organized by the National Council of Women Societies.
Mr. Abah says he was forced to trek from Wuse Market to his office at Zone 2, and also from Central Business District to Maitama as a result of the restrictions on major routes.
The lawyer has asked that the court grant an injunction restraining the accused from restricting movement of the respondent or Abuja residents within the country except within the circumstances as guaranteed by Section 41 (2) of the Nigerian constitution.
"I believe the 3rd and 4th respondents aided the 1st and 2nd respondent in conducting an unannounced barricade and restriction of major routes within the FCT. After waiting for about an hour in traffic as a result of the gridlock, I also saw agents of the 3rd and 4th respondents heavily armed, directing and restricting people from driving through the road linking Wuse Zone 2 to Wuse market," Mr. Abah said
Mr. Abah also expects the court to order Mrs. Jonathan and the other accused to issue a written apology to Nigerians and the applicant in two national dailies.
This is not the first time a civil rights lawyer would challenge restriction of movement due to the activity of VIPs or associations linked to them.
In June 2012, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, demanded that the Minister of Aviation reveal the identity of a VIP whose movement had caused the partial closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport.
Mr. Falana, who was on board of an Arik flight W3 271 on the Abuja to Lagos route, recalled that the aircraft stayed in the air for an extra 30 minutes after it approached Lagos due to the closure of the airspace.
He also stated that he was reliably informed that the presence of a VIP had resulted in the restrictions of movement within the airport, causing the delay of his flight and thereby endangering the lives of over 150 passengers.