N1 billion suit by Onitsha deportees: A test of our judicial system.

Filed under: Forgotten Dairies |

The word “deportation” is used in context to a man or woman sent home from a foreign land/country for which he or she is no longer bound by rights of freedom to continue living in. On the 24th of July 2013, this word was heard been used WITHIN Nigeria, by Nigerian, for and to Nigerians. As pathetic as it appeared and harsh as it sounded to the ears then, nothing was done about it and 76 Nigerians were sent to their region.

The Yorubas turned against the Igbos and the Igbos against the Yorubas for this singular action of a Yoruba man in a Yoruba land. One thing that most of the debaters hugely forgot was the fact that they were and are all Nigerians, even before they took to a STATE.

The Federal High Court 4 sitting in Lagos 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.

According to report, 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.

Below is the request set forward by the affected Nigerians:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

It is not just a welcome development, but a unique utility of testing the Nigerian Constitution on the key and basic question of citizenship and nationality which may also solve a related issue in our constitution. If the hefty damages that would accrue to those hapless Nigerians through judicial penalty and sanction, will see the light at the end of the tunnel, it will go a long way to correcting government abitrariness on citizen for it is unbecoming of any government that aspires to be taken seriously. It fails miserably on the template of re-uniting them with their family.
Putting my back behind this suit is only for the reason that we are all Nigerians and as such, must throw out of the window, this tribal sentiments or hatred as the case may be, if we must remain a united nation with one purpose.

Justice should be giving to these people for posterity sake.