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Anti-Torture Act: Court Grants MRA Permission To Sue AGF

Channels Television  
Updated February 25, 2022
A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

A Federal High Court in Lagos has granted Media Rights Agenda (MRA) permission to apply for an order of mandamus to compel the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) to exercise the mandatory legal duty stipulated in Section 11 of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017 to make rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the Act.

Justice Tijjani Garba Ringim issued the order allowing MRA to apply to the court to compel the Attorney-General of the Federation to make the rules and regulations following a motion bought on behalf of MRA by its lawyer, Mrs. Bankeye Akinwale, in which the organization claimed that although Section 11 of the Anti-Torture Act mandated the Attorney-General to make rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the Act, he has since 2017 failed to do so.

The organisation is complaining that despite the enactment of the Act in 2017, there have continued to be various allegations made by journalists, and other individuals and citizens of Nigeria of being subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment by officials of law enforcement agencies and other government officials and non-state actors.

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MRA said in an effort to ensure that the Attorney-General complies with the provision of the law, it wrote a letter of demand dated August 20, 2021, to him requesting him to perform the statutory duty imposed on him by the Act but that the Minister has failed, neglected and refused to comply with the demand and to perform his statutory duty.

The organisation said following the failure of the Attorney-General to perform the statutory duty imposed on him by the Section 11 of the Act, it decided to approach the court to ask for an order granting the organization permission to apply for an order of mandamus to compel him to perform the mandatory legal duty imposed on him by Section 11 of the Act.

Ruling on the motion, Justice Ringim said after careful consideration of the application, upon reading through the verifying affidavit deposed to by Mr. John Gbadamosi, MRA’s Programme Officer, as well as the exhibits attached and after hearing the submissions of Mrs. Akinwale, MRA’s lawyer who moved in terms of the motion paper, he was granting an order to MRA to apply to the court for the order of mandamus that it is seeking.

Specifically, the judge gave clearance to MRA to apply for an order of mandamus to compel the Attorney-General to exercise the mandatory legal duty stipulated in Section 11 of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017 and for the organization to seek the following reliefs:

· A declaration that the failure of the Attorney-General to make rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017 as imposed on him by Section 11 of the Act is a breach of the law;

· An order of mandamus compelling the Attorney-General to carry out the duty imposed on him by Section 11 of the Act;

· An order of mandamus compelling the Attorney-General to carry out the request contained in MRA’s letter of demand dated August 20, 2021, delivered to him on August 23, 2021, wherein MRA requested him to make the rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the Act;

· An order directing the Attorney-General to pay to the organization the sum of N5 million as exemplary and aggravated damages for the flagrant violation of Section 11 of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017.

Justice Ringim, however, ruled that the grant of the order is conditional on MRA filing a written undertaking for costs within two days of the ruling in the event that it turns out that the order ought not to have been granted in the first place.