The Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State, Tuesday set aside the judgment of the state High Court, which awarded N20 billion damages to a Yoruba self-determination activist, Chief Sunday Adeyemo (aka Sunday Igboho).
The presiding judge, Justice Muslim Hassan, delivered judgment in an appeal filed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Department of State Services (DSS) and Director, DSS in Oyo State, against the judgment of the High Court, held that Justice Ladiran Akintola acted on the wrong principles of law in awarding the cost to Igboho.
But Justice Hassan held that the judgment of the lower court was not supported by any evidence, but by two affidavits.
He said the judge cannot assess damages using his own conceived parameters, stating that there was no evidence that quoted the value of damages at Igboho’s residence.
Justice Hassan also held that there was no evidence including an autopsy to support the claim that two people were killed in the activist’s residence during the invasion.
The judge added that the case did not qualify under the enforcement of human rights because there was a threat to national security.
“When there is a threat to national security, the enforcement of fundamental rights is secondary. I have read the judgment of the lower court and Article 20:1 of the African Charter on Self Determination and Articles 3 and 4 of the United Nations charter on rights of the indigenous people which the judgment was based upon. A statute cannot be treated in isolation.
“Articles 3 and 4 of the United Nations charter have not been domesticated in Nigeria. No international treaty shall have a force of law without being treated by the National Assembly, and an international treaty does not become binding unless enacted into law by the National Assembly.
“Therefore, the United Nations declaration is not enforceable in Nigeria. The judge acted on the wrong principles of law and the action of the respondent constitutes a threat to the unity of Nigeria. The respondent has no right to take up arms against Nigeria,” Justice Hassan held.
Justice Hassan resolved issues 1, 4, 5 and 6 in the applicants’ favour and resolved issues 2 and 3 in favour of the respondent.
The judge subsequently held that the lower court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit and set the judgment aside, stating that the respective parties in the case should bear their costs.
The Legal Head of DSS in Oyo State, Mr Nurudeen Abdulrahman, in his reaction to the judgment, said it affirmed the position of 1999 constitution.
On his part, the counsel to Igboho, Chief Yomi Alliyu (SAN), also lauded the judge for a well-considered judgment.