Rights violation: Judge refuses to compel FG, NIS to pay Onnoghen N130m



A Federal High Court in Abuja, Thursday,  refused to grant ex-Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen’s request for N130 million damages from the Federal Government and Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) for violation of his rights.

The presiding judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, has subsequently dismissed the suit.

The suit is marked FHC/ABJ/CS/16/2020.

In his judgment, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, held that the suit had no locus standi, affirming that the applicant, Dr. N.S. Nwawka, filed the suit without Justice Onnoghen’s permission,

In a ruling which was given on October 12, 2020, the judge held: “I have looked at the originating processes filed by the applicant herein, with due respect to him, I do not see any nexus between him and the respondents jointly or severally.

“I do not see his remote or immediate interest in the matter in which he has not been instructed to file by the former Chief Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“I pose a question to him and this is whether the Former CJN has told him that he is incapable of fighting his own battle or that he is even ready for any battle against anybody?”

In the same vein, the judge also declined to grant Nwawka leave to apply for a referral of some “constitutional questions to the Court of Appeal” for determination.

“The applicant’s motion is incompetent as it is and I, therefore, dismiss same.

“My conclusion is that the NPO is meritorious and I, therefore, dismiss the action filed by the applicant. The action to say the least is a waste of the time of the court.

“If the applicant has time to file this type of unmeritorious action, the time of the court is valuable and should not be wasted. Case dismissed.” The Judge held.

At the hearing of the substantive case on July 15, the counsel averred that sometime in 2019, Immigration officers stationed at the international airport prevented the former CJN from travelling to Ghana and confiscated his international passport without any prior order of a court of competent jurisdiction.

He also alleged that the Federal Government has refused to pay Onnoghen his terminal benefit and that there is no pending prosecution of the former CJN to warrant such treatment.

Nwawka said he approached the court as a concerned citizen to enforce Onnoghen’s fundamental rights to travel in and out of Nigeria unhindered and rights to freedom from inhuman, humiliating, and degrading treatment.

Besides the N130m as general and exemplary damages, he also sought an order court directing the respondents to immediately release Onnoghen’s international passport Number A50445233 confiscated since November 11, 2019, as well as a perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from any further foreign travel ban against the Former CJN.

However, while opposing Nwawkwa, government’s lawyer, Mrs. Habiba U. Chime, premised her arguments on the ground that Nwawka did not disclose how his legal rights were affected by the acts complained of.

She argued further that the applicant did not disclose any legal or equitable interest of his that was attacked and that the suit was wrongly commenced at the Federal High Court.

Meanwhile, the 2nd respondent in the suit was not represented nor filed any process.

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