The suit filed by over 80 Igbo ‘deportees’ against the Lagos State Government came up on Thursday at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, with the plaintiffs demanding a compensation of 1 billion Naira (about 6.3 million dollars) .
Seven plaintiffs filed the suit on behalf of 66 others and they are jointly seeking the compensation from the Lagos State government as general damages for breach of their rights.
The seven plaintiffs are; Joseph Aniebonam, Osondu Mbuto, Osondu Agwu, Nnenna Ogbonna, Emily Okoroariri, Friday Ndukwe and Onyeka Ugwu.
Joined as respondents are the Attorney-General of Lagos State and the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State.
When the case was mentioned in court, the counsel representing the plaintiffs, Mr Ugo Ugwunnadi, told the court that the case was coming up for the first time.
He informed the court that he had only been served with the processes from the first respondent, the Attorney General of Lagos and that the second respondent, the commissioner of police, was yet to serve his process.
The counsel, therefore, asked the court to give parties a date for the hearing of the matter by which time lawyers involved would have perfected their processes.
The Counsel representing the Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr Tayo Odupitan, told the court that he had filed a counter-affidavit, written address and an exhibit, all in response to the plaintiffs’ suit.
He, however, informed the court that the A-G Lagos State, Mr Ade Ipaye, had indicated his intention to defend the suit personally.
Meanwhile, Counsel to the Commissioner of Police, Mr Sam Adebeshin, told the court that he was yet to regularise the processes on behalf of the second respondent.
After listening to all the parties, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia adjourned the case to February 19 for further hearing.
Breach Of Fundamental Rights
In the suit, the plaintiffs want the court to declare that they, as Nigerian citizens, were entitled to their fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
They are also seeking a declaration that their arrest and detention in various camps in Lagos and subsequent deportation to Anambra on July 24, 2013, for no offence, amounted to a serious breach of their fundamental rights.
The deportees also want the court to make an order mandating the respondents to tender a written apology to them by publishing same in three national newspapers continuously for 30 days, for unlawful and gross violation of their constitutional rights.
They also want an order, directing the LASG to re-integrate the applicants into Lagos State, and a perpetual injunction restraining the respondents, their agents, and officers from further deporting or refusing them free entry into Lagos State.
Meanwhile the LASG, in its counter-affidavit, contends that the deportation was not borne out of malice, but out of genuine intention to re-unite the applicants with their families.
They further contend that the applicants were assisted by the government, to re-join their families, after pleading that they had no homes, relatives or businesses in Lagos State.