A Lagos based lawyer and a Rights activist, Ebun-olu Adegboruwa, has reacted to the statement of the Inspector-General of Police banning movement on the day of the election.
On February 15, 2019, the Inspector-General of Police had announced restriction of human and vehicular movements for twelve hours from 6am to 6pm of the same day, albeit illegally, on account of elections scheduled for February 16, 2019.
Reacting to the statement on Sunday Ebun-olu Adegboruwa said: “Even after it became clear to all that the elections will not hold as scheduled, this restriction was not lifted officially, thus forcing people to stay indoors, contrary to the express provisions of the Constitution and other laws in that behalf, guaranteeing freedom of movement to all citizens.
“By law, it is beyond the powers of the Inspector-General of Police to forcefully keep people at home because of elections, since there is no law in force in Nigeria presently, authorising such unlawful restriction of movement.
“The Federal High Court of Nigeria, had occasion to pronounce on a similar illegal directive in the case of Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, Esq. v. Inspector-General of Police & 5 others,in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1690/2014. In that case, the applicant, a legal practitioner, was on his way to honour an invitation as a guest speaker of Channels Television, for an early morning programme, on June 29, 2013, being the last Saturday of the month.
“ He was accosted by policemen and LASTMA officials at the Ketu end of the Third Mainland Bridge, where the road had been barricaded on account of some compulsory three-hour environmental sanitation programme, declared by the Lagos State Government.
“ The applicant was denied free movement and was arrested and detained briefly but later released. Being dissatisfied with the action of the policemen, the applicant instituted an action at the Federal High Court, to challenge his arrest and denial of his right to move around.
In striking down this odious practice, the Court, coram Mohammed Idris J (as he then was) held as follows:
“Consequently, the restriction imposed on the Applicant and other peace loving residents of Lagos State during the Environmental Sanitation day without a law prescribing such restrictions is unjustifiable and a gross infringement of the right to personal liberty and movement of the Applicant and the court so holds.”
The Court then breathed down these golden rules of protection for the liberty of all citizens of the land:
“Everyone high or low must be prepared to justify his acts by a reference to some statute or common law power which authorizes him to act precisely in the way in which he claims he can act. Superior orders or state necessity are not defence to an action otherwise illegal.”
He further added that the Inspector-General of Police did not appeal against this judgment of the court and yet he proceeded to hold people down at home on February 16, 2019, contrary to the express order of injunction granted by the court in this case against any repeated illegal practice of keeping citizens indoors.
“We will therefore not condone or agree with any attempt to restrict people’s movement illegally, on February 23, 2019 or indeed any other day, by reason of elections,” he added.