Ubani sues FG, others over forced vaccination on civil servants
Erstwhile Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) second Vice President and current Chairman, NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL), Dr. Monday Ubani, has sued the Federal Government and two others at the Federal High Court, Lagos over forced vaccination of civil servants.
The applicant argued that it violates the constitutional rights of Nigerian civil servants.
Joined in the suit are the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami.
Ubani, in the originating summon, prayed to court to question whether the directive given by the 1st respondent (Mustapha) to all Federal Civil Servants in Nigeria to the effect that with effect from December 1, 2021 they should show proof of vaccination or present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result done within 72 hours before they can gain access to their various offices within Nigeria and Missions abroad, does not amount to a violation of the Constitutional rights of Nigerian civil servants to life, dignity and privacy, as well as their right to freedom from discrimination, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as guaranteed by sections 34, 37 and 38 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria and Sections 2, 4 and 8 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act 1990.
In a six-paragraph affidavit of non-multiplicity of action, Ubani seeks redress/intervention of the court with respect to the violation of Nigerian Constitutional provisions by the 1st defendant, as it concerns the rights of Nigerian Federal Civil servants.
“This action has not been instituted by me in any other court apart from this very suit, which is filed in this court, over this subject matter.
“There is no multiplicity of action by me in respect of same subject matter before any other Court against the defendants herein or any other defendant(s).
“It will serve the interest of justice if the reliefs sought by the plaintiff in the Originating Summons are granted,” Ubani swore.
Ubani, therefore, wants the court to declare that the directive given by the 1st respondent to all civil servants in Nigeria is unconstitutional, same having violated the constitutional rights of Nigerian civil servants to life, dignity, privacy, freedom from discrimination, freedom of thought, conscience and religion as guaranteed by sections 34, 37 and 38 of the 1999 Constitution.
He also wants an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st respondent from implementing or further the directive given to the Federal Civil servants.
In a written address to support the originating summon, Ubani stated that every person has a constitutional right to object to medical treatment, and same is protected by Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution, which guarantees the right to privacy, and this right to privacy implies a right to protect one’s thought, conscience and religious belief and practice.
Thus any directive for compulsory vaccination amounts to coercive and unjustified intrusion into this right, which is Unconstitutional, he argued.
He added that the government must allow citizens to vaccinate freely and not under compulsion.
“A constitutional right need not be compromised for effective public health intervention. The present policy of insisting on due observance of COVID-19 protocols and the tests before exit or entry into the country is part of the elaborate measures to curb the pandemic, and should rather be intensified.
“The best policy for the country remains that the citizens are not allowed to lower the guards in preventive measures in dealing with the pandemic. Any directive on compulsory vaccination at this time is immature, needless, unacceptable and the court is urged to reject it,” he said.
In a 22 paragraph affidavit to support the originating summon, Ubani said the pronouncement or directive if implemented would discriminate against civil servants and violate the constitutional rights of the Federal Civil servants, particularly their right to life, dignity, privacy, freedom of movement and personal liberty.
“The directive did not consider or make room for persons with valid health related or other relevant reasons who may want to opt out of such compulsory vaccination on health grounds.
“The defendants have not proved without any doubt the health risk associated with the vaccinations, in view of the fact that there are stories of persons who have gone ahead to develop various other ailments after taking the vaccinations.
“The punishment of denial of access to office by the directive will be discriminatory and also amounts to restriction to freedom of movement and liberty, as well as freedom of thought, conscience and religion as guaranteed under chapter 4 of the 1999 constitution and the African charter on Human and peoples’ rights,” he insisted.