THE Federal Government said, yesterday, it will file a fresh action against Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, fondly called Sunday Igboho, following the judgment of Oyo State High Court, which awarded N20 billion in damages in his favour.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in New York that the Federal Government had the right to appeal the judgement or file a fresh charge.
Malami said the position of the government on the judgment was about "law and jurisdiction."
He said: "As far as this matter is concerned, which court is it that has the jurisdiction to determine it? And as you rightly know, obedience to court orders and court judgments.
"But then you have to understand, within the context of such obedience, that there are associated rights and interests that are vested in the Federal Government.
"Inclusive of rights of appealing against a judgment, inclusive of the right to file an application for setting aside the purported judgment and order.
"And indeed, inclusive of the possibility of filling a fresh action if, indeed, the jurisdiction of the court that was alleged to have, indeed, handed that judgment is an issue.
"We are doing the needful in terms of looking at the law as it exists and then working within the context of the law in ensuring that justice is done as far as the contending issues between the parties are concerned," the minister explained.
Igboho's counsel, Yomi Alliyu, SAN, had filed a N500 billion fundamental human rights enforcement suit against the AGF, SSS and the Director of the SSS in Oyo State over the invasion of his home in Ibadan on July 1.
Alliyu claimed that his client's house and cars were damaged, while two occupants of the house were killed by SSS operatives during the incident.
However, counsel to AGF, Abdullah Abubakar, had argued that there was no evidence before the court that the blood seen in the video clip tendered by Alliyu belonged to a human being.
Abubakar also said there was nothing in the video clip that showed that the house that was invaded belonged to Igboho or linked the AGF with the invasion.
Adeyemo is still being held in the Republic of Benin where he was arrested some weeks ago while trying to flee to Germany.
He's making a political statement--Igboho's lawyer
Reacting to Malami's comments, Mr. Alliyu said the Justice Minister was making a political statement.
Alliyu said: "Has he (Malami) ever filed any charge against him (Igboho) that is fresh? He has never filed any fresh charges against him. The statement he is making is political. The Attorney-General is free to make any charge against anyone and the court is there to uphold such person's rights.
The only thing we know is that self-determination has been ruled out of being a criminal charge. Finding ammunitions in Sunday's house has been thwarted by the court and so, I don't know the charges they want to bring against him. My people will say he is shooting political canons.
"He knows people are demonstrating in New York and he (Malami) has to say something to remove grounds from those demonstrating in New York."
Rule of law 'll prevail, says Ilana Omo Oodua
Also reacting, the Ilana Omo Oodua, IOO, expressed optimism that the rule of law will prevail if the Federal Government files a fresh charge against Igboho.
IOO's Communications Manager, Mr. Maxwell Adeyemi said: "The rule of law will prevail always. We have no doubt that we shall defeat them in court. The Nigerian Government has been humbled. They should appeal; we shall meet them at the Court of Appeal. Filing charges is a free thing, winning is another issue.
"They should go ahead. Those arrested and humiliated on July 3rd during the Yoruba Nation rally are considering suing the Nigerian Government for abuse of their fundamental human rights.
"That the Federal Government wants to file charges doesn't mean the accused is guilty. If government files charges, we shall counter-sue the government."
Afenifere tackles FG
On its part, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, said that the move further attests to the low level on which the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari placed fundamental human rights of Nigerian citizens.
Afenifere's National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Jare Ajayi said: "As upheld by the court, it was successfully argued that Adeyemo's rights were violated and his properties destroyed. Rather than being remorseful and obey the court order, Mr. Malami is still threatening the filing of fresh charges.
It is a pity. It is regrettable. It is uncalled for. We strongly enjoin the Federal Government to respect the court judgement and use it as a wake-up call for it to start respecting the rights of Nigerians and those living in Nigeria. There is no doubt that the present administration scores very low on human rights scale going by the way it has been handling various court orders, especially those that were not in its favour, The way it is handling this one concerning Sunday Adeyemo Igboho is adding to its bad record in this respect.
"Since Abubakar Malami is the head of the government's legal team, it means that the low points scored by the administration could be laid at as his door step Minister of Justice.
"It means that when history returns a negative verdict on President Buhari's administration, the part played in the scenario by Malami would be very conspicuous. That would not be an exemplary record. As for the planned fresh charges, we implore the Federal Government to drop the idea and instead comply with the orders that were already given. If it insists on going ahead, we are hopeful that it will lose the case as it lost in the previous ones."
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