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Suit Against Proliferation Of Roadblocks In South-East Suffers Setback

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A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has dismissed a suit filed by former Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association, Section on Public Interest and Development Law, NBA-SPIDEL, Dr Monday Ubani seeking to stop the army, police and other security agencies from proliferating the Lagos- Southeast routes with roadblocks.

Ubani had dragged the Attorney-General of the Federation, Inspector-General of Police, Comptroller General of Customs, Chief of Defence Staff, Corp Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corp before the court seeking a declaration that the proliferation of intra-state and highways with road blocks mounted by their officers particularly enroute Lagos to South-eastern part of Nigeria which result in obstruction of free movement in the highway and loss of travel time is a violation of his right to free and undisrupted movement as guaranteed by section 41 of the 1999 Constitution and other enabling laws.

Also joined in the suit as co-respondents are; the Police Force, Nigeria Customs Service Board, Nigerian Army and Federal Road Safety Commission.

Other prayers by Ubani include a declaration that the proliferation of intra-state and highway roadblocks particularly enroute Lagos to South Eastern part of Nigeria, obstructs free flow of traffic, constitute nuisance, causes untold hardship and unwarranted suffering to him and other road users and therefore unlawful and without legal justification.

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He also prayed for an order directing the respondents forthwith to dismantle all roadblocks on all intra-state roads and highways throughout the country and particularly along the South-East roads.

Ubani also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents, their privies, agents and representatives from mounting intra-state and highway roadblocks on Lagos enroute South Eastern roads.

On his ground for seeking the injunctions, Ubani narrated an incident in 2021 when he travelled from Lagos to his home town in Abia state with his family by road and spent about 15 hours along the road due to over 120 roadblocks mounted by officers of the respondents who also subjected other roads users to untold hardship, extortion intimidation and harassments.

In their separate responses to the suit, the Police, Army, Customs and Road Safety Corp admitted mounting roadblocks along the Lagos to South-Eastern route but insisted that they were empowered by enabling laws to do so as part of their responsibilities to secure the country and check crime.

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They also insisted that the right of freedom of movement as enshrined in the 1999 constitution is not absolute and maintained that the proliferation of roadblocks along the South-Eastern roads did not in any way infringe on the right of the applicant.

Delivering judgment in the suit, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke held that from evidence before him, it was obvious that indeed there were proliferation of roadblocks along the Lagos-South Eastern road which made the applicant and other users to spend hours on the road.

The court further held that the right to free movement of the applicant was indeed derogated upon due to the powers of the constitution given to the President and the security agencies to map out security measures to secure the country.

However the court failed to address the issue raised by Ubani on why the security measures said to be securing the country are only meant for roads leading to the Eastern region and minimal on other routes in the country.

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The judgment reads in part: “All the 2nd to 9th Respondents when they are on the Nigerian Roads, whether intrastate roads, interstate roads or Highways are there to prevent crime. They provide internal security which is the main function of the 3rd Respondent. They therefore perform police duties. In fact, the 4th and 5th Respondents were statutorily given the powers of the Police when carrying out their functions. These Police powers especially to stop, search, arrest and prosecute any person committing an offence was also given to the Respondent.

“There is no way the 9th Respondent can perform its duties without stopping and sometimes searching vehicles. I therefore hold that the road blocks mounted by the 2nd to 9th Respondents which clearly restrict the right to freedom of movement of the Applicant and other road users does not by that reason alone violate the Applicant’s fundamental rights.

“This does not mean that any illegal act committed by the 2nd to 9th Respondents while on the intra-state roads and highways, whether they mounted road blocks or not, cannot be investigated and prosecuted in the law courts according to the laws of Nigeria.

“It is for the reasons given above that I hereby dismiss the application for the enforcement of fundamental rights brought by the Applicant.”

Reacting to the judgement, Ubani said he would appeal the judgement or go back to the court with modification of his reliefs as he believes that the reason for the unnecessary proliferation of the road blocks on the Eastern route is not for security measures.

He maintained that it has become obvious by evidence on ground that that the proliferation of the road blocks is purely and simply for extortion and inconvenience purposes.

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Terrorism: Court Frees Rivers APC Chieftain After Two Years

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A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has discharged and acquitted a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and Deputy Chairman of Youth Movement in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State, Chief Fubara Ohaka, of charges filed against him by the Federal government.

Ohaka had been standing trial on six counts of alleged involvement in illegal oil bunkering, terrorism, dealing in illegal refining products without a licence, and conspiracy among other charges preferred against him since 2022 by the Federal government through the Department of State Services.

Delivering judgment in the matter, the trial judge, Justice Stephen Dalyop-Pam, held that the Federal Government failed to provide evidence to back its claims, hence failing to prove its allegations against the defendant.

READ ALSO: Rivers Eders Drag Tinubu, Others To Court Over Peace Agreement

Our correspondent reports that Justice Dalyop-Pam agreed on no-case submission by the counsel for the defendant and thereby discharged and acquitted him.

Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, Ohaka expressed happiness that he has been vindicated, saying the judgment has put shame on the faces of all those who conspired to tarnish his image.

He said, “I’m happy that the judiciary has vindicated me today. I told the world that I never had any idea of the allegations against me, I am not a bunker, I have never sponsored any person to do bunkering,

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“Thanks to the judiciary who in its wisdom have reached to the root of the matter and proven to be the last hope of the common man.

“I want to thank those who stood by me in the time of trial, I’m happy that I never disappeared from them when I was told I was innocent of the allegations against me.

“Let me also use this medium to advise government agencies to always carry out proper investigation before engaging in legal battles, because if they had I would not have spent the number of months I spent in detention before the legal action that turned out in my favour today.”

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NLC Insists On Planned Protest, Knocks DSS

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The Nigeria Labour Congress has insisted that the planned protests against the prevailing economic situation in the country will hold contrary to the warning issued by the Department of State Services to shelve its protests.

The organised labour, on Monday, began mobilising its members for a nationwide protest slated for February 27 and 28 over the cost of living crisis in the country.

The Federal Government’s failure to fulfil its promises after the 14-day ultimatum by Labour, according to sources, will be met with a two-day nationwide protest already slated for February 27 and 28.

Reacting to the planned protests in a statement on Wednesday, the DSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya, urged the union to shelve the plan in the interest of peace and public order.

READ ALSO: Economic Hardship: CSO Gives FG Ultimatum, Threatens Nationwide Protest

The Secret Service urged the union to pursue dialogue and negotiation rather than engage in conduct that could heighten tensions.

However, the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, in a statement he personally signed on Wednesday evening, noted that the protests will still hold and questioned why the DSS had yet to execute the arrest of those planning to disrupt the protests.

We are concerned by the unsolicited advice of the Department of State Security to shelve our planned protest against the unprecedented high cost of living despite the indescribable suffering in the land, spiralling inflation, deepening poverty and the Naira at an exchange rate of N1,900 to the US Dollar.

“According to the Service, the planned protest should be shelved ‘in the interest of peace and public order’, pre-supposing that the action is intended to be violent and disruptive even when we have a history of peaceful protests’.

“More worrying is the new role the Service has assigned to itself, the chief spokesperson of the government.

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“We are equally worried that although the “Service is aware that some elements are planning to use the opportunity of the protest to foment crisis and by extension, widespread violence and yet have not executed the arrest of these elements,” the NLC president said.

Ajaero noted that the NLC will not compromise the sovereignty or security of the country while assuring that the protests would be peaceful.

We are equally intrigued by the innuendos of the Service, their philosophy of “peace” and wild allegations and we want to reassure them that no one loves this country more than us and on our honour, we would never do anything that will compromise its sovereignty or security.

“Having said this, we would not have ourselves blackmailed or lied against by the Service. Our protest is a peaceful one against the unpardonable cost of living of which the unserviced personnel of the Service are also victims.

“We cannot fold our hands and pretend all is well. That will be a grievous conspiracy that history will not forgive,” he said.

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VIDEO: Give Tinubu Time To Get Things Done, Gowon Begs Nigerians

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A former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.), has urged Nigerians to exercise patience with President Bola Tinubu’s administration, emphasizing that it’s premature to anticipate flawless outcomes at this stage.

Gowon spoke in an interview with State House correspondents after a meeting he had with Tinubu on Wednesday.

The former Head of State, who noted that he was visiting Tinubu for the first time after the latter’s inauguration, disclosed that discussions revolved around matters concerning peace and security within the West African sub-region.

Responding to inquiries about his advice to the President regarding the prevailing national circumstances, Gowon acknowledged the existing challenges but stressed that it’s too early to anticipate perfection.

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He said, “I was telling him that there’s no Nigerian leader that can get there, that will not get all of these, all that is being said about him. But certainly, there is no doubt about all that one has heard and seen from various media. I think the government is trying its best to deal with the various problems of the country.

“But with Nigerians, don’t worry, you will get criticised but people who get there know better than you know. I think all one can say to Nigerians is that they have to give the President time to get things done and it is too early to sort of say a perfect result will be achieved. That is my opinion.

“At least, if I remembered, I was told that I was too slow, fighting the war and that probably Nigeria would not make it and we should seek for discussion. Well, did we do it or not? They probably did not know the problem there on the ground there.”

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