An Oyo State High Court in Ibadan yesterday rejected a request by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami (SAN) to stop hearing a suit instituted against the Federal Government by Yoruba Nation agitator Sunday Adeyemi (aka Sunday Igboho).
Adeyemi had filed the suit challenging the invasion of his Ibadan residence on July 1 by operatives of the Department of State Services(DSS), a Federal Government agency.
In Abuja, the Federal High Court clarified that a judge was on the ground to sign an August 4 bail warrant of the aides and associates of the agitator by Justice Obiora Egwuatu.
It blamed their counsel for failing to approach Justice A.R. Mohammed, who alternates as a vacation judge, for the release of the detainees.
Malami had in his motion on notice raised a preliminary objection against Adeyemi’s suit.
He argued that the Oyo State High Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
The Attorney-General was represented in the court yesterday by a team of 10 lawyers led by Abdulahi Abubakar. On the team were Adekola Olawoye (SAN) and Oladipo Olasope (SAN).
Malami asked for a time extension to enable him to file further processes in opposition to Igboho’s application.
But the motion was opposed by Igboho’s counsel, led by Chief Yomi Alliyu (SAN) because time is of the essence.
Aliyu argued that the law stipulates that replies shall be given within five days, stressing that Malami had nowhere to hide because the case is about fundamental human rights.
He also pointed out that by filing the motion on notice, Malami had called for the discretion of the court.
He, therefore, urged Justice Ladiran Akintola to exercise discretion instead of granting Malami’s application.
Counsel for the second and third respondents (the DSS and the director of DSS in Oyo State), T. A. Nurudeen, did not oppose the application.
After listening to both parties, Justice Akintola allowed Malami’s lawyers to move his application but awarded N50,000 cost against the Attorney-General.
He adjourned the hearing to August 30.
Malami had in his preliminary objection, argued that the claims of unlawful killing of Igboho’s aides cannot be brought under fundamental human rights enforcement procedure.
He also argued that claims of damages and unlawful invasion cannot be resolved by way of affidavit evidence without calling witnesses, among others.
Igboho is, among others, seeking an order of the court to declare the invasion of his residence by DSS operatives as illegal and an infringement on his fundamental human rights.
He wants the same order for his detained aides and associates.
In Abuja, FHC faulted reports that Justice Egwuatu avoided signing the release warrant of the detained Ighoho aides.
In a statement on Tuesday, the court faulted the detainee’s counsel for failing to approach the available vacation judge on learning that Justice Egwuatu was not immediately available.
The statement reads: “The attention of the Federal High Court, Abuja has been drawn to two newspaper publications … dated August 17, 2021 captioned ‘Judge travels abroad as Igboho’s aides meet all bail conditions’ and ‘Nigeria Federal Judge disappears as soon as bail is perfected for 12 detained Igboho’s associates.’
“We wish to state that the publications are incorrect and misleading. Contrary to the claims of the publications, the trial judge is out of the country on a national assignment and there is a vacation judge in the person of Justice A.R. Mohammed, who alternates as a vacation judge with him, to attend to such matters.
“It should be stated that Justice Mohammed has been on the ground, attending to matters at the court, but lawyers to the applicants, unfortunately, did not take the bail bonds for the judge to sign.”
The 48-year-old Adeyemi, who narrowly escaped the bloody invasion of his home was declared wanted for allegedly stockpiling arms to destabilise Nigeria under the pretext of Yoruba Nation.
He was arrested in Cotonou, Benin Republic after going underground for 19 days. He is currently facing trial in the neighbouring country for illegal entry.