By OKONKWO EZE
ONITSHA — The Federal High Court 4 sitting in Lagos, presided over by Justice Anumogobia is expected to commence hearing on January 29, 2014 in a N1 billion civil suit instituted against Lagos State Government, by the 76 victims who were deported from the state and abandoned in Onitsha, Anambra State on July 24, 2013.
The suit was filed by seven of the deportees, including Joseph Aniebonam, Osondu Mbuto, Osondu Agwu, Nnenna Ogbonna, Emily Okoroariri, Friday Ndukwe and Onyeka Ugwu as the applicants, on behalf of the 76 others, while the Attorney-General of Lagos State and the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State are the respondents.
The suit was brought as a motion on notice pursuant to Order 11, Rule 1&2 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure Rules), 2009, Sections 34 (1) (A), 35, 40, 45 (1), 42 (1), 46 (1) and 6 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended; Articles 5, 6 and 12 of African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
In the motion filed on their behalf, through their legal counsel, Chief Barrister Ugo Ugwunnadi, an Onitsha-based legal practitioner., the applicants are praying the court to declare that they, as Nigerian citizens are entitled to the enjoyment of their fundamental rights as provided for in Sections 34, 35, 36, 37, 40, 41 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The applicants are also seeking a declaration of the court that their arrest and detention in various camps, Oshodi rehabilitation centre, police cells and prisons, within Lagos State for no offence known to law and without trial and conviction by a court of competent jurisdiction, amounted to a serious breach of their rights as provided for in the relevant sections of the constitution, adding that such an action was illegal, null, void and unlawful.
They also sought an order of the court to declare that their deportation from Lagos State of Nigeria to Anambra State of Nigeria on July 24, amounted to a gross violation of their rights and a breach of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
They noted that the court should mandate the first respondent to re-absorb and accommodate the applicants within Lagos State of Nigeria since they are Nigerian citizens and are entitled to reside in any part of Nigeria, including Lagos State.
The applicants equally sought a perpetual injuction restraining the respondents, their agents, privies, subordinates, workers and officers, howsoever called, from their further deportation or refusing them free entry into Lagos and free exit therefrom, as well as an order mandating the respondents to tender a written apology to them by publishing the apology in the following newspapers: THISDAY, Vanguard and Daily Sun continuously for 30 days, from the date of the first publication, for unlawful and gross violation of their constitutional rights.
Also in their written address, the applicants noted that the issue for determination is whether the action of the respondents in arresting, detaining and their subsequent deportation from Lagos to Onitsha, Anambra State is justified in law, in view of the supreme provisions of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, adding that if the issue is resolved in the negative and against the respondents, the applicants are entitled to the reliefs sought.