A FEDERAL high court in Lagos has declared the restriction of movement during the monthly sanitation exercise as illegal. Justice Mohammed Idris while delivering a judgement on a case brought before the court by Ebun-Olu Adegoroye, a lawyer and human right activist, on Monday, March 16, held that restriction of movement, in the name of sanitation, amounted to a violation of the citizens’ right to personal liberty and freedom of movement a s enshrined in sections 35 and 41 of the Nigerian constitution.
Idris, therefore, held that the power of the Lagos State government to keep people indoors and its agent to arrest any citizen found moving between 7am and 10am on the last Saturday of every month when the environmental sanitation exercise is being observed could not be substantiated by any law.
The court pointed out that the 1999 Constitution grants freedom of movement to every citizen, and such freedom could not be taken away by executive proclamation in the absence of any law to that effect. The judge also held that there was no regulation in force presently in Lagos which authorised the restriction of movement of citizens on the last Saturdays of the month for the purpose of observing environmental sanitation.
Adegoroye had taken the Lagos State government to court saying that the restriction of movement during exercise between 7am and 10am had no legal basis. Besides, he said it grossly violated Nigerians’ right freedom of movement as guaranteed in the constitution.
The activist, therefore, sought a declaration that the restriction of his movement, and that of other Lagos State residents on the last Saturday of every month, constituted a breach of their rights. Adegboruwa said no law in Lagos State approves the compulsory detention of citizens at home for three hours for the purpose of observing a mandatory sanitation.
Respondents in the case were Suleiman Abba, inspector-general of Police, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State and Ade Ipaye, attorney-general; Lagos State commissioner for the environment and the ministry.
Speaking after the court verdict, Adegboruwa said: “I commend the judge for his forthrightness, for his courage and boldness. This has indeed settled beyond any doubt that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man.
“It is a signal to all those in power, across the land, local, state and federal, that the rule of arbitrariness, of impunity and of wanton disregard for peoples’ rights and freedoms is gradually coming to an end.
“When we dare to struggle, then we dare to win. I, therefore, urge all Nigerians to troop to the courts, to challenge the unchallengeable, to kick off the arbitrary PHCN impositions, all illegal charges and tax imposition and all obnoxious policies wickedly devised by all our rulers. Together we shall win.”
— Mar. 23, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT