By Innocent Anaba
Human Rights and Empowerment Project Ltd/GTE, HREP, has advised the Lagos State Government not to contemplate a monthly environmental exercise that will restriction the movement of Nigerians, as the Court of Appeal had ruled that the state government has no power to restrict movement, constitutionally guaranteed under Section 41(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
HREP, in a statement by its chairman, Mr. Ikenna Okoli, and Mr Francis Moneke, Executive Director, yesterday, said: “Our attention has been drawn to the report making the rounds in the media that the newly inaugurated administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s plans to reintroduce the monthly environmental sanitation exercise in Lagos State.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the abolition of the monthly environmental sanitation exercise sometime in November 2016 by the immediate past governor of the state, Akinwunmi Ambode, was not a mere policy summersault, but was informed by or premised on the compelling order of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division in its judgment in the landmark case of Okafor vs Lagos State Government, which is now fully reported in (2016) LPELR-41066;  4 NWLR (Part 1556) 404. “That case, which was sponsored by HREP and prosecuted from the High Court of Lagos State up to the Court of Appeal by Ikenna Okoli, with a team of other lawyers as counsel for the appellant, has laid to rest the issue of the propriety of restricting the movement of people for the reason of environmental sanitation.”
“The Court of Appeal in that case reversed the earlier decision of the Lagos State High Court on the issue, and held that the fundamental right to freedom of movement which is constitutionally guaranteed under Section 41(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) cannot be taken away or curtailed by a mere executive order or policy, or even a law. “Section 41 (2) of the Constitution, specifically mentions matters on which a law may be justified to restrict the movement of citizens. Environmental sanitation is certainly not a justifiable reason to restrict the fundamental right to freedom of movement. Nothing stops the Lagos State Government from running or