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Why Sunday Igboho Is Seeking N500billion Damages From Nigerian Government — Lawyer

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Asked further how he chose the humongous amount, he said his client had already suffered huge losses by the reason of his house earlier razed. He said the house was worth N300million.

Yomi Alliyu (SAN), the lead counsel to Yoruba Nation activist, Sunday Adeyemo (Igboho), has explained why he requested N500billion as compensation for his client. 

Speaking with Nation, Alliyu said his decision to ask for N500billion exemplary and aggravated damages for his client at an Oyo State High Court, was to deter the Department of State Security (DSS) personnel from attacking citizens illegally.

He said, “There is a case that says when something is rampant and you want to stop it, you must ask for aggravated and exemplary damages. DSS personnel have been raiding citizens’ houses illegally. They won’t stop until this kind of damage is awarded against them. It is to act as a deterrent.”

Asked further how he chose the humongous amount, he said his client had already suffered huge losses by the reason of his house earlier razed. He said the house was worth N300million.

Alliyu added that the July 1 illegal invasion added to the huge loss, given the lives lost and the value to the property vandalised.

“It is to deter them from further illegal raids and invasions,” he stressed.

Igboho through his lawyer, Alliyu, filed a suit challenging the invasion of his house in Ibadan on July 1 by operatives of the DSS, also known as the State Security Service (SSS) or secret police.

Igboho sought 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.

The three respondents are the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), as the first respondent, SSS as the second respondent and Director of SSS in Oyo State as the third respondent.

Last Friday, the court granted a relief sought by Igboho and ordered the Nigerian government to pay him N20billion.

Citing several judgements by the Supreme and Appeal courts in respect of the ability of the state high court to hear such cases, Justice Ladiran Akintola said the invasion of the house of the applicant violated his fundamental human rights as stipulated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.

“Unfortunately, this court is not a Father Christmas and cannot award the sum of N500billion as requested by the applicant but the court retrained the respondent from arresting or harassing the applicant. He has right to his free movement as contained in section 35.1 (a)(b) of the 1999 constitution as amended.”

While giving the judgement, Justice Akintola held that the DSS did not deny the invasion, pointing out that the revelation that the female officer that led the invading team loudly instructed the personnel to shoot Igboho dead was a serious threat to his life.

He added that the DSS obviously went after Igboho because of his agitation for self-determination. He said the invasion was based on “arbitrary aggression and prejudice,” in the absence of any evidence that Nigeria was in a state of war.

“It is, therefore, condemnable, reprehensible and crude,” he said.

Akintola said the DSS did not deny the invasion, stressing that it only justified it in its argument.

“The invasion of July 1 amounts to a violation of the applicant’s rights to personal liberty as guaranteed by the constitution. There was no order of the court against the applicant (Igboho) for which he has been found guilty to justify the arrest,” he said.

He pointed out that the invasion was a move to stop Igboho from continuing with his rallies for the Yoruba nation in Southwest Nigeria, whereas he enjoyed the constitutional right to do so.

“The action of the 2nd and 3rd respondents against the applicant amounts to a violation of his rights to agitate for self-determination as enshrined in the constitution,” he said.

On the claims by counsel for AGF and DSS Abubakar Abdulahi and T. A. Nurudeen that the case did not qualify under the fundamental human rights enforcement procedure, and that Igboho had not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that his rights were violated, the judge said Igboho had demonstrated with a preponderance of evidence that his rights were violated. He stressed that the alleged embargo placed on his bank accounts were one of such violations.

After considering all things, Justice Akintola said he found merit in the application and described the DSS’ act as “reckless and despicable.”

He said he did not believe that Igboho’s aides exchanged gunfire with the DSS personnel as claimed.

“All issues are hereby resolved in favour of the applicant… This court accordingly grants all the reliefs sought save damages. I hereby award N20billion as exemplary and aggravated damages because of the illegal invasion of the applicant’s house,” he said.

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