Judge drags FG before ECOWAS court over alleged rights violation
A Nigerian High Court Judge has brought the Federal Government of Nigeria before the ECOWAS Court for the enforcement of his rights to fair hearing, dignity of the human person against torture following a warning letter issued to him by the country’s National Judicial Council (NJC).
The applicant, Justice S.E. Aladetoyinbo with suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/27/18, claimed that letter by the Council, an agent of the defendant, also amounted to the violation of his fundamental rights, right to honour and reputation.
Counsel for the applicant is K.C. Muoemeka, while O.S. Kara and Reuben Chaku (state counsels from Ministry of Justice) stand for the defendant.
The plaintiff averred that warning emanated from a petition to the NJC by dissatisfied judgment debtors in a land dispute that was later upheld by the Supreme Court, which he decided in favour of a judgment creditor.
He further averred that the Judicial Council set up an Investigative Committee to investigate the petition of the judgment debtor even though two separate suits on the same subject matter were pending before national courts of competent jurisdiction.
He equally argued that the proceedings before the Investigative Committee that examined the petition were marred by irregularities specifically, the committee was improperly constituted and the pleadings and overwhelming evidence of the plaintiff were not considered in reaching its decision.
He therefore claimed the warning letter emerged from the misapplication of justice and had undermined his integrity, respect, honour and good name built over four decades of excellent discharge of his duties in the service of the defendant, thereby leaving him traumatized and demoralized.
The claimant is seeking, among others, a declaration of the court that the letter of warning issued and published in different media violated his rights to human dignity, respect, honour and integrity, and an order directing the defendant to issue a formal apology to him, which should be published in three print and three broadcast media.
He is equally seeking monetary compensation in the sum of N855,625,000 million as cost for general damages and N12,230,750 million as cost of litigation.
In a counter argument, the defense counsel challenged the competence of the ECOWAS court to interpret provisions of the country’s municipal laws. He also averred that the claimant had responded to the petition in the exercise of the right of reply afforded him by the council.
He therefore prayed for the exoneration of the NJC, describing the council as law-abiding in fulfilling its anti-corruption obligation and urged the court to dismiss the case describing it as frivolous, baseless and an abuse of court process.
After hearing both parties, the presiding judge, Justice Edward Asante adjourned the case to April 3, 2020. Also on the panel are Justices Gberi-Be Ouattara and Dupe Atoki.