By Wale Odunsi
A Federal High Court, Lagos on Thursday fixed June 19 to hear a suit filed by seven Igbo deportees, challenging an alleged breach of their fundamental human rights.
The plaintiffs are: Joseph Aniebonam, Osondu Mbuto, Osondu Agwu, Nnenna Ogbonna, Emily Okoroariri, Friday Ndukwe and Onyeka Ugwu.
They sued on behalf of 76 others.
Joined as respondents in the suit are: the Attorney-General of Lagos State and the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State.
The case, which was earlier fixed for hearing, was stalled due to the absence of the trial judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajjumogobia, who was away on an official assignment.
A new date, June 19, was therefore fixed for the suit.
In their motion, the applicants prayed the court to declare that they, as Nigerian citizens, were entitled to their fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
They are seeking a declaration, that their arrest and detention in various camps in Lagos and subsequent deportation to Anambra on July 24, 2013, for no offence, amounted to a serious breach of their fundamental rights.
The deportees also seek an order, mandating the respondents to tender a written apology to them by publishing same in three national newspapers continuously for 30 days, for gross violation of their constitutional rights.
They also want an order directing the Lagos State Government to re-integrate them into the state, as well as a perpetual injunction, restraining the respondents, their agents and officers from further deporting or refusing them free entry into Lagos State.
In addition, the applicants claim the sum of N1billion against the respondents jointly and severally, as general damages for breach of their rights.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government in its counter-affidavit, contends that the deportation was not borne out of malice, but out of a genuine intention to re-unite the applicants with their families.
They further averred that the applicants were only assisted by the government, to re-join their families, after pleading that they had no homes, relatives or businesses in Lagos State.
By Wale Odunsi