Justice Mohammed Aikawa of a Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday fixed a date for the hearing of the preliminary objection filed by the Nigerian Army against the suit filed by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana to challenge the Operation Positive Identification (OPI).
The judge had on earlier November 5, ordered the Army to suspend the operation pending the final determination of the suit.
An earlier hearing date for yesterday, but the courts new date was fixed as a result of Mr Falana’s application seeking for short adjournment for him to respond to the respondents’ application.
Counsel representing the Army and the chief of Army Staff (1st and 2nd respondents), Mrs. Olayemi Badewole, didn’t oppose the applicant’s application for short adjournment.
The solicitor general of the Federation, Dayo Apata (SAN), who represented the Attorney General of the Federation (third respondent) did not also oppose it.
In the absence of any opposition from other parties, the court fixed the new date, December 12, for hearing.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, the Army and the Attorney-General of the Federation were joined as co-respondents in the suit marked fhc/l/cs/1939/2019.
In the suit, Mr Falana argues that the planned nationwide operation which was scheduled to run from November 1 to December 23, 2019, by which Nigerian citizens would be required to move about with means of identification, is unconstitutional, illegal, and null and void.
He insisted that the operation violates his right and that of other Nigerian citizens to liberty, “as encapsulated in section 35 respectively of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and article 6 of the African charter on human and Peoples rights (ratification and enforcement) act, (Cap a10) laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
In an affidavit in support of the suit, Falana disclosed that by virtue of section 215 (3) of the constitution, the Nigeria Police Force “has the exclusive power to maintain law and order and secure public safety and public order in the country” and not the army.
He further contended that the President could only deploy military to suppress insurrection or restore law and order when such need arises in line with section 217(1) of the constitution.
The silk averred that there is no insurrection in every part of the country which is beyond the control of police to warrant the deployment of armed troops all over the country from November 1, 2019 to December 23, 2019.
According to him, the Nigerian Army under the leadership of Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai is not empowered to take over police duties while the President and Commander In Chief of the Armed Forces also lacks the power to deploy members of the armed forces in the maintenance of internal security in any part of the country by virtue of section 217 (a) (b) and (c) of the constitution.
He added that neither the constitution nor the armed forces act cap a20 lfn, 2004, empowered the Nigeria Army to arrest any citizen who is not subject to service law.
Mr. Francis Orasanye, Lawyer to the former Chairman, Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, has told a Federal High Court in Abuja that his client was bleeding during the court sitting on Thursday.
The alleged N2bn fraud case of the former pension reform boss was called for a continuation of trial on Thursday, but his counsel asked that his client be allowed to take his medication.
The advocate stated that his client cannot stand trial while the issue of his health status is still a question before the court.
He informed the court that it adjourned to receive a report from the Nigerian correctional services in the health status of Mister Maina. And since the Nigerian correctional service has asked for one week to turn in a report it will only be appropriate to await the same.
Following his plea, mild unrest ensued within the court, however, decorum was soon returned, with Mr Orasanye pleading that his client needs his medication, adding that he (Maina) was bleeding.
The court rose for about 20 minutes to honour the request from Maina’s counsel, and after the judge had been informed that Maina had taken his medication, proceedings got back underway.
On return, however, Maina’s lawyer Mister Francis Orasanye said he wants to make an application informing the court that when the court rose at the insistence of the defence the first defendant’s health condition became worse.
He asked the court for an adjournment to sometime next week and the date for tomorrow vacated as well.
This he said is to enable Mr Maina to seek proper medical attention.
Responding, counsel to Mister Ms Abubakar said the counsel is more catholic than the Pope and in any event the court has read out it’s ruling that the matter is adjourned to today for continuation of trial.
He added that pendency of ruling of bail cannot stop the continuation of trial, as the trial can proceed whether the defendant is on bail or otherwise.
On the issue of the medical report, he said in the light of the presence of the first defendant in court, the issue of the medical report cannot stop the continuation of trial.
He asked the court to go on with the trial.
On the application for adjournment sort by the defence, Mr Abubakar said because of the defendant’s health, he appreciates that his lawyer said he is not a medical doctor and he is yet to be approached by any prison official with information regarding his health condition.
Abubakar, however, said he is not opposed to the application for adjournment.
In his ruling, the trial Judge, Justice Okon Abang said that the counsel to Maina Mr Adedipe said that except the court makes a pronouncement on the health report of the defendant the matter will be set aside on appeal.
Justice Abang said the statement is a threat to the court and contemptuous on the court.
He warned the lawyer that in his own interest, he should mind his words and not make a submission that is aimed at scaring the court.
The Judge insisted that the matter was not to take a position on the health of Mr Maina, adding that he cannot infer into the health state of the defendant as he is not a medical doctor and it is unbecoming of the counsel to Mr Maina to raise the issue of his health causing confusion in the court.
He insisted that the application for adjournment is only persuasive because we are all humans, stressing that his initial impulse was to continue the trial because his lawyer is not a medical doctor to ascertain his client’s health status.
Justice Abang further informed that court that he will also give in to the defence’s submission because the prosecution is not opposed.
“This means that the prosecution has also contributed to delaying the proceedings because there is no medical report
“A person cannot perform drama in court to frustrate a case.
“The frustration of proceedings caused by the 2nd defendant counsel will not be tolerated again,” Justice Abang stated.
He added that the case will be adjourned till the 25th of November, at the instance of the parties in the case.
“Anybody who attempts to frustrate this case again will make me exercise the powers vested on me bu the court and I will order the police to remove such a person from the courtroom and the proceedings shall continue in his absence,” Justice Abang warned.
He also added that the ruling on bail is ready and he would have delivered it tomorrow but because parties asked for adjournment it will be delivered on the next adjourned date.
A Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has restrained the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and eight others from deploying for public use, a banned chemical, methyl bromide.
Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo gave the order after a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olukayode Enitan who is representing a retired judge of the Osun State High Court, Justice Olamide Oloyede, told the court that NAFDAC had released the alleged dangerous chemical to the importer, Toon Consolidated Company Limited.
Justice Oloyede and a Non-Governmental Organization, Virtues Unlimited Restorative Justice Initiative (VURJI), are before the court, seeking an order to compel the Defendants to investigate, identify and destroy in a healthy and safe manner any methyl bromide-an odourless, colourless gas used to control pests in agriculture which has serious negative effect on humans and the environment.
They are also urging the court to declare that the alleged importation of the banned chemical substance into Nigeria by Toon Consolidated Company Limited pursuant to the license issued by NAQS without the permit of NAFDAC is unlawful and illegal.
Apart from Toons Consolidated Company Limited, the other defendants affected by the interim Order are the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS), National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Justice.
At the hearing of the case today, the counsel to the plaintiffs also told the court that he had filed an application for an interlocutory injunction seeking to stop the defendants from deploying the chemical for public use pending the determination of the suit.
The application could however not be moved because all the defendants present in court asked for time to respond to it.
Following the development, the counsel asked Justice Oguntoyinbo to issue an interim order to preserve the rest of the suit.
The senior lawyer alleged that NAFDAC had already released the ban methyl bromide to the importer after imposing a fine of N350, 000 on it.
He also alleged that NAFDAC issued a permit to the importer and backdated it after it was served with the processes in the case.
Enitan further claimed that the defendants have constructed a 40 feet container to serve as fumigating chamber where the chemical will be used.
He said that the court needs to protect Nigerians from the harmful effects of the chemical.
However, counsel to NAFDAC, B. Simon denied the allegations, stating that the agency issued the permit before it was served the processes.
On his part, lawyer to the Quarantine Services, O. A. Omasa, told the court not to grant the interim order because the country stands to lose millions of Naira.
The lawyer disclosed that the Chemical is now in the custody of the Quarantine Services and it has the capacity and expertise to manage its use.
He said that the agency allowed the importation of methyl bromide because it is used to preserve herbivore flower exported to Mexico.
In her ruling, Justice Oguntoyinbo granted the order, holding that all parties in the case must maintain the status quo until the hearing of the motion for interlocutory injunction.
Before adjourning the case to December 2, the judge warned that all the defendants must obey the order or be cited for contempt.
In a 32 paragraph affidavit filed in support of the suit and personally sworn to by the retired judge, she claimed that the agro-chemical had been banned in Nigeria because it was dangerous to human health and caused environmental hazards by depleting the ozone layer.
The VURJI coordinator also averred that methyl bromide, when used as a fumigant and pesticide, exposes humans to severe injuries including lung damage because it is highly toxic.
Justice Oloyede also stated that due to the dangers it poses to humans and the environment, NAFDAC banned its importation and use as a fumigant in the country on February 20, 2019.
She, however, alleged that it came to the knowledge of the Plaintiffs that Toon Consolidated Company Limited was given a permit by NAQS to import 45 cylinders of methyl bromide into Nigeria and use same as a pesticide in the country.
The retired judge further stated that the current grant of permit of the use of methyl bromide, a banned chemical substance that is not permitted to be imported into Nigeria by NAQS to any person is ultra vires its powers, illegal and unlawful.
“I know for a fact that the continuous use of methyl bromide constitutes a hazard to the Nigerian public and stratosphere, and will eventually foist greater hardship on Nigeria a country currently dealing with other developmental issues,” she insisted.
The plaintiffs are therefore asking Justice Oguntoyinbo to determine whether NAFDAC is the agency of the Federal Government with the statutory functions and duties, among other things, to regulate and control the importation, distribution, sale and use of chemicals and grant authorization for the import of psychotropic substances, has the power to ban the importation of methyl bromide.
They also want the court to determine whether the power and functions of the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service include the granting of a license for the importation of chemical substances into Nigeria.
Whether NAQS did not exceed its statutory authority, power and functions as provided under Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) Act, 2017 when it granted a license to the third Defendant to import 45 cylinders methyl bromide into Nigeria.
But in its counter-affidavit to the suit, NAQS asked the court to dismiss the case because the Plaintiffs do not have the locus standi to institute the action against the Defendant as it has not shown that it has sufficient interest or right which is not vague or intangible.
NAQS also maintained that the case of the Plaintiffs is hinged on mere suspicion and untruths against it and the entire gamut of the processes filed by the Plaintiffs before the court disclose no reasonable cause of action.
The federal agency also stated that the suit as presently constituted is an incompetent and flagrant abuse of Court Process.
A Federal High Court in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on Thursday declared that the All Progressives Congress (APC) didn’t follow constitutional guidelines in its primaries hence the party has no candidate for the November 16th election in the state.
The case was presided over Justice Jane Inyang.
One of the APC governorship aspirants, Senator Heineken Lopkobiri had earlier approached the court asking it to declare him, and not David Lyon, the authentic candidate of the APC.
Counsel to Lopkobiri in reaction to Thursday’s court ruling described the judgment as strange. According to him, the judgment delivered was not part of their prayer when they approached the court.
Meanwhile, Lyon’s counsel says the party has begun the process of appealing the court’s judgement.
The court ruling is coming two days to the election.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has granted a N500million bail to a British national, James Nolan, who was found culpable in the controversial contract award to Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID).
Mr Nolan and another British national, Adam Quinn, who is still at large were arraigned on a 16 count charge bordering on money laundering.
The defendants were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the 21st of October when Mr Nolan pleaded not guilty.
Justice Okon Abang, who delivered ruling on the bail application, also granted Mr Nolan surety for him in the same bail sum, who must be a serving Senator to stand.
The Judge said the serving Senator must not have a criminal case that is pending in any court in the country, and must have landed property that is fully developed in the Maitama district of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The court ordered Mr Nolan to surrender all his international passports.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court has adjourned the trial of Omoyele Sowore to the 5th and 6th of December, 2019.
The adjournment is occasioned by the objections raised by Counsel to Sowore, Mr Femi Falana to the effect that the defense team was never served with the witness statement that the prosecution is relying on to proceed with the trial.
The human rights advocate insists that there is a deliberate attempt on the part of the prosecution to ambush the defense team.
The Senate President referred the executive communications to the Committee on Judiciary and Legal Matters and report back to the lawmakers in a week.
Meanwhile, President Buhari in another letter requested the confirmation of the appointment of three persons as Resident Electoral Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Senator Lawan also referred the executive communication to the Committee on INEC to report in a week.
Thereafter, a total of 11 bills were read for the first time on the floor of the chamber.
They are the National Commission for the Eradication of Child Destitution Bill, Regional Centre for Oral Health Research and Training Initiatives Bill, Federal College of Education, Sabon Birini Bill, and Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act (Amendment) Bill.
Others are National Offenders Central Registry Bill, Government Performance and Accountability Office Bill, Agricultural Research Council Act (Amendment) Bill, and Federal College of Education Giwa Kaduna State Bill, 2019 (SB. 121) by Senator Uba Sani.
The Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, Income Tax Development Act (Amendment) Bill, and the Federal College of Education Usugbenu, Edo State were also read.
Justice Ekwo also held that the group does not have the power to engage in the public interest litigation which it claimed to be undertaking by filing the action.
He adds that contrary to the claim of the plaintiff to be a non-governmental organisation, there is no legislation in Nigeria permitting the registration of any group as such and no group registered under the Part C of the company could engage in such litigation.
Justice Ekwo asks the National Assembly to emulate some Commonwealth countries like Uganda and Zimbabwe that have separate legislations on registration of the non-governmental organisation.
The court decision comes a day after President Muhammadu Buhari forwarded the name of the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, to the Senate for approval as the substantive CJN.
The President’s request was sent in a letter to the Senate on Thursday.
A second letter was also sent by President Buhari, seeking the approval for the appointment of 15 special advisers.
It added that only the court divisions in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt will function during the vacation, and litigants were at liberty to approach only these courts.
While the Abuja division will cater to cases from the Federal Capital Territory, North Central, North Western, and the North Eastern parts of the country, the Lagos division would cater to cases from the South West, while the Port Harcourt division would cater to cases from the South-South and South East.
However, only cases of extreme urgency will be entertained by the vacation judges during the period.
The circular revealed that only Justice Nicholas Oweibo and Professor Chuka Obiozor have been assigned to sit as vacation judges in Lagos.
The courts’ long vacation is observed annually, pursuant to the provisions of Order 46 rule 4 (a) of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2009.
Justice Iyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has restrained the suspended national chairman of the African Action Congress, AAC, and the presidential candidate of the party in the last presidential election, Mr Omoyele Sowore to stop parading himself as the national chairman of the party.
The court also ordered the deputy national chairman of the party, Mr Malcolm Fabiyi, to stop parading himself as deputy national chairman.
The court restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission from further recognizing the suspended chairman, pending the determination of the motion on notice.
The newly sworn in acting chairman of the party Mr Leonard Nzenwa, dragged the suspended chairman and his deputy to court.
In the order granted by the court, the court restrained Mr Sowore and Fabiyi from further exercising any power or function relating to the offices pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
In the affidavit in support of the motion on notice, the party alleged that Mr Sowore failed to fulfill the mandatory statutory requirement of holding the national executive committee meeting of the party quarterly.