COURTROOM NEWS 25/06/2022
Alleged Marginalisation: Court Adjourns Lagos Indigenes’ Suit Against FG
The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos Friday adjourned till October 19 a suit challenging the Federal Government’s alleged marginalisation of Lagos State indigenes in appointments to public offices and career positions.
Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa fixed the date for parties to file their pleadings after ruling on the objections raised by the respondents in the suit.
The plaintiffs in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/1465/2020 are Yakubu Eleto, Adeyemi Onikoro, Shittu Akeem, Nurudeen Argegbeshola (all lawyers), Chief Muhammed Jamiu, Madam Titilayo Ogun and Gbenga Agoro, who sued for themselves and on behalf of Lagosians Advocacy Group (LAG).
The defendants are President Muhammadu Buhari, Federal Character Commission (FCC), Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Senate, Lagos State Governor, Lagos Attorney-General, Lagos House of Assembly and the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC).
Others are the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Head of Service of the Federation, Federal Civil Service Commission, Lagos Head of Service, Lagos Civil Service Commission, as well as state Local Governments, House of Assembly, Judicial, Teaching and Health service commissions.
The plaintiffs, in their originating summons, are praying for a declaration that under sections 13 and 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Paragraph 8, Part 1 of the 3rd Schedule and sections 4 and 5 of the Federal Character Commission Act 2010, the President and the Senate are obliged to appoint and confirm persons “who are the best and competent indigenes of Lagos State to fill political public offices and career posts or positions reserved for indigenes of Lagos State in the government and public service of the federation”.
They prayed for a declaration that the appointment of a person who is not an indigene of Lagos into public office and career post reserved for indigenes of Lagos breaches the constitutional provisions and is, therefore, unlawful and null and void.
Among other reliefs and prayers, the plaintiffs are seeking an order compelling the defendants to comply with sections 13 and 14 (3) & (4), as well as an order of perpetual injunction restraining all defendants from further breaching them.
The plaintiffs, through their counsel, Yakubu Eleto, argued that the defendants were bound to comply with the provisions in recognition of the diversity of the people of Nigeria and the need to avoid neglect of any section.
The sections provide that the composition of the government or any of its agencies “shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character”.
But the defendants contended in their preliminary objections that the plaintiffs had no locus standi to institute the action and that the substance of the case was not justiciable.
Ruling on the objections raised by the defendants, Justice Lewis-Allagoa held: “I have examined the affidavits evidence in support of the originating summon and I am of the view that the facts are contentious.
“The plaintiffs complaint centered on non conformity with the Federal Character Commission Act. This requires factual proofs of the allegation.
“The documentary evidence attached to the affidavit in support of the originating summon were dumped on the court for it set out particulars relating to the plaintiff claims. Those documents need to be demonstrated by oral evidence
“In the circumstance and in the interest of justice, I hereby order pleadings to be filed by the parties in accordance with the rules of this Honourable Court.”
The judge adjourned till October 19, for further hearing.