Court Declares ‘Yoruba Nation’ Agitation Legal.
Justice Akintola ruled in a suit filed by Chief Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, that Nigerians, including Igboho, had the unquestionable and inalienable fundamental right to campaign and agitate for self-determination under the combined provisions of international and domestic laws.
The judge also awarded Igboho N20 billion in aggravated damages against the Federal Government for the invasion and destruction of his home by State Security Service (SSS) operatives on July 1, 2021.
The Attorney General of the Federation, the State Security Service (SSS), and the Director, State Security Service, Oyo State were named as defendants in the suit.
All 16 reliefs sought by Igboho in the suit filed on his behalf by his lawyer, Chief Yomi Aliyu, SAN, were granted by Justice Akintola.
“A declaration that the Federal Government’s determination to prevent him from propagating his belief in the ‘Yoruba Nation’ in association with others violated his fundamental rights to freedom of thought, conscience, and association,” according to the reliefs.
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Sunday Igboho specifically asked the court to declare that he and his Yoruba indigenous people had an inalienable fundamental right to peacefully campaign and seek self-determination for the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria, as guaranteed by Article 20 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federative Republic of Nigeria.
“A declaration that the respondents resolve in preventing the applicant from propagating his belief in association with other like-minded individuals in creating a Yoruba Nation and/or the Oduduwa Republic for his Indigenous Yoruba People and hunting him with a gun with the intent of arresting him dead or alive when he had not called for war in achieving the same was against his foundation”.
“A declaration that, in addition to infringing on the applicant’s fundamental right to a fair hearing, it is unjust and unfair for the 2nd and 3rd respondents to display guns, ammunition, and other dangerous weapons, as well as incriminating documents, in public and claim that they belong to the applicant when their officers shot their way into the applicant’s house, lying and being untruthful.
A declaration that the 2nd and 3rd Respondents’ media trial of the applicant in displaying prohibited and/or illegal items as Applicant’s before the press and live television is a usurpation of judicial power reserved for courts by CFRN, 1999, and violently violates the applicant’s fundamental right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law recognised by the said constitution.
“A declaration that invading and or blocking the applicant’s assets, as well as placing no debit orders on his bank accounts, is a violation of his fundamental right to own property and wealth, as guaranteed by CFRN, 1999, and Article 21 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of Federation, 2010.”
“An order of injunction prohibiting the respondents, their agents, privies, and associates in other security forces, and or anyone acting on their behalf and or instructions, from arresting, detaining, molesting, harassing, and/or in any other way interfering with his right to personal liberty, freedom of movement, and peaceful enjoyment of his property without fear of an invasion of his home by the respondents.”
Igboho also asked the court to order the respondents to pay him N500.5 billion in damages, divided into N500 million in special damages for the damage to his car and residence in Soka, Ibadan, and N500 billion in exemplary and/or aggravated damages for the malicious invasion of his Soka residence.
He also requested that the court ruled that the destruction of his property was a violation of his fundamental right to peacefully own property and wealth. The court found that the activist’s home was invaded because “the applicant led credible and unchallenged evidence against the respondents.” The respondents did not deny the applicant’s home invasion; rather, they admitted the invasion based on mere suspicion.
“No amount of suspicion, no matter how strong, can replace the rule of law. The respondents’ or their agents’ obscene display of crude firepower, which resulted in death, carnage, and destruction, should be condemned.”
The court also found that breaking into Igboho’s home without a warrant in the middle of the night violated his fundamental human rights to property, life, and family under section 35 I (a-c) of the 1999 constitution.
“In the absence of any evidence that Nigeria is at war, the second and third respondents’ agents’ actions and overzealous conduct should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. The identities of the second and third respondents’ agents would have been revealed, and they would have been held liable for their actions, according to the judge.
“It is difficult to believe that the arms and ammunition were recovered from his residence because there is no evidence to that effect,” Justice Akintola said, adding that the second and third respondents were silent on how the arms and ammunition allegedly paraded in Abuja were recovered from Igboho’s residence.
Justice Akintola went on to say that the ruling would serve as a lesson to government agencies that are fond of infringing on citizens’ fundamental human rights, and he also awarded Igboho N2 million as a cost. Igboho’s lawyer, Alliu, SAN, said the ruling was a victory for democracy and the rule of law, and that it further demonstrated that the court is the common man’s last hope.
“Now we see that we need to return to the NBA’s motto, and that is exactly what happened today, which is that where there is a problem, there is a solution. We can see Justice Ladiran Akintola’s language, and you heard what I said in court that today’s case is history, and lawyers yet unborn will refer to it as you refer to previous cases,” Aliyu said.
FG will appeal Self Determination Judgement —Malami
On Friday, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), announced the Federal Government’s decision to appeal the judgement.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, he discussed the situation. Malami stated that preparations were already being made to begin the appeals process.