By Innocent Anaba and Emmanuel Aziken,
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday declared as illegal, Federal Governmentâ€™s deportation of the Vaswani brothers.
Trial judge in the matter, Justices Mohammed Liman, held that Federal Government either observed the law or followed due process in the deportation of the Vaswani brothers.
The court also restrained government from confiscating or sealing up their business premises and assets in any manner whatsoever,Â harassing or disrupting their operation in the country.
Government was also stopped by the court, whether by itself, its agents, servants, departments from enforcing or giving effect to the letters of April 8,Â 2009 withdrawing the Expatriate quota positions of the Vaswani brothers and their business concern in the country.
Meanwhile, the Vaswani brothers have hailed courtâ€™s ruling, saying it was a refreshing hope for other entrepreneurs in the country.
The court on whether the deportation was an Act of State, which is not subject to judicial review as argued by the Federal Government, the cited section 18, 19 and 45 of the Immigration Act and heldÂ that the action of the government was an administrative one,Â which must be based on law and that the constitution empowers the court to determine whether those actions are in accordance with the law.
The Vasani brothers, their company Stallion Group Limited and 30 Expatriate staffs of the company,Â will be recalled, had dragged government to court in April this year,Â seekingÂ leave to enforce their fundamental human rights against plan by the government to deport them from Nigeria.
Defendants in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Michael Aandoakaa (SAN); Minister of Interior, Gen. Goodwin Abbey, Nigerian Immigration Service, State Security Service and the Inspector General Of Police, Mr Mike Okiro.
The Vaswani brothers, had through their counsel, prayed the court for an order,Â restraining the government by themselves, agents, servants, departments from enforcing or giving effect to the letters of April 8, 2009 withdrawing the Expatriate quota positions of the Plaintiffs and stay all actions pending the determination of the originating summons.
They had also asked the court to restrain the defendants from deporting them from Nigerian pending the determination of suit.
The had also prayed the court for an order restraining the defendants from confiscating or sealing their business premises and assets in any manner whatsoever harassing or disrupting the their operation pending the determination of the case.
TheÂ Federal Government had opposed the application, contending that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case because the withdrawal of the Expatriate Quota and the consequent deportation, were actions taken by the Federal Government against the plaintiffs constitute an â€œAction of Stateâ€
Government argued that said action can not be interfere with by the judicial, which is another arm of government,Â as it lacks the requisite jurisdiction to hear the matter as presently conceived.
But the court held otherwise and over ruled government.
Meanwhile, have the Vaswani brothers, have hailed the court order reversing their deportation from the country, saying it was a refreshing hope for other entrepreneurs in the country.
The brothers, Sunil, Haresh and Mahesh Vaswani in a statement by their company Stallion Group said that their adherence to the rule of law remains unwavering even as they expressed appreciation to President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua and other security agencies for applying due process on the issue.
They said, â€œwe are grateful to the President of Nigeria for his gracious support of the due process in our case and are thankful that justice has finally been delivered. The judgment puts an end to our unfortunate predicament and paves way for progress on several fronts in this great country, notably on heavy industries and agriculture. With this judgment, Nigeria has given further assurances of protection for foreign investors,â€ the statement read.
â€œOur foreign partners and technical collaborators would no doubt now be encouraged to enhance their investments in the country, in alignment with Federal Governmentâ€™s objectives on attraction of capital in key industries.â€™â€™
â€œOur 40 year old record in Nigeria spanning diverse industries has been unblemished as we have always strived to run a highly compliant business operation. Stallion or its promoters have never been convicted of any offence during the past four decades. The Stallion Group is not involved in any act of economic sabotage.â€™â€™
â€œIn spite of hardships faced preceding the judgment, we also thank EFCC and the NIS for their patient adherence to the rule of law that has led to the establishment of our innocence and their efforts in combating unhealthy business practices in Nigeria.â€
â€œAs always we remain keen and inclined to strictly comply with all the laws of the country and cooperate with EFCC and other governmental bodies in the performance of their challenging duties.â€
The Federal High Court presided over by Justice Liman according to the statement also nullified the withdrawal of expatriate quota of companies within the Stallion Group and the repatriation of its expatriate Staff.