Adegboruwa: 50 garlands for ‘peoples
BESIDES late Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) and perhaps, the former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba,( SAN) no other known Nigerian lawyer has arguably challenged public policy through the instrumentality of law as Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa.
Adegboruwa who just celebrated his 50th birthday is now the newest stormy petrel for various government institutions while at the same time , becoming the people’s advocate.
His penchant for public interest litigation and civil rights advocacy is renewed by his recent challenge and court victory over the restriction of movement imposed on residents by the Lagos State Government during the monthly environmental exercise in the state.
He had challenged the powers of Lagos State Government to impose movement restriction on citizens on account of the monthly environmental sanitation exercise. And on March 16, 2015, the court declared the movement restriction illegal.
Although the decision has been appealed against by Lagos and stay of execution ordered, his courage is salutory.
A seasoned lawyer of repute with record of activism that dated back to the time he was in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile – Ife as a student, he has prosecuted and defended cases in all courts in Nigeria, from the Customary Courts to Magistrate’s Courts, High Courts, Court of Appeal and to the Supreme Court. And in most of those cases, he had epitomized the spirit of unrelenting interest and effort in the protection and defense of the rights of the common man like Gani Fawehinmi of blessed memory.
Of course, his activism was not without a clash with constituted authorities, either within the University or outside. In 1992, he was arrested, detained and dismissed from the University along with 61 other student leaders for their role in a protest, before he was reinstated by the court of law.
He was also victimized and as a punitive measure, he was made to repeat his year 3 (300 level) as undergraduate, in the OAU Faculty of Law by the dean who objected to his participation in students’ unionism, but was later promoted when the matter was reviewed by another panel of teachers.
In 1993, precisely at a time when the heat and agitation to revalidate the most controversial election in the history of Nigeria, June 12, had began to gather momentum, he was arrested in Enugu for attending National Association of Nigeian Students (NANS) senate meeting which was then banned by the government. Adegboruwa who has just celebrated his golden jubilee was at one time or the other arrested, detained and charged to court together with late Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Chima Ubani and others for organising June 12 protests.
He was also remanded in underground cell of the Directorate of Military Intelligence by General Sani Abacha for 9 months from November 1997 to July 1998.
As a lawyer, he has not shied away from his inherent interest for public interest litigation, progressive advocacy, constitutional law cases, election petition cases, human and civil rights advocacy as well as general litigation, which had distinguished him as a luminary and a force to reckoned with in the legal profession with passion for human and civil right advocacy.
Among notable cases he handled as a lawyer included the case of murder charge against Professor J.G Chinwa of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology and the case to re-instate him back into the University against unlawful dismissal.
He appeared on behalf of Gani Fawehinmi, at the Tribunal constituted to try Ken Saro Wiwa, Ledum Mitee and other Ogoni activists in Port Harcourt and was part of the proceedings till the conviction and execution of Ken Saro Wiwa and others. His effort led to the release of the Ogoni 19, hitherto arrested and penciled down for prosecution at the Tribunal.
Other landmark cases he handled included; the Supreme court case of Fawehinmi v. Abacha on the status of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Adegboruwa v NCC, MTN, Airtel. In this case, Adegboruwa challenged the charges imposed on telecoms, the arbitrary charges, validity periods fixed for sim cards and telephone lines. He contended that there should be a system of monitoring the telecom companies in such a way that calls that are terminated should not be paid for.
The case is still pending in court. The other is Adegboruwa v. Lekki Concession Company, where he also contended against the legality to impose toll fee on users and motorists in respect of the Lekki-Epe Expressway. He insisted that government has a statutory responsibility to provide infrastructure such as road for the citizens. He was also the plaintiff in Adegboruwa v. AGF on the collection of toll fee on the Lekki- Ikoyi bridge.
He also challenged the power of Lagos State Government to privatize the probate division of the High Court, contending that it is against the principle of separation of powers.
There is another case involving him and the President (Adegboruwa v. President). In this case, Adegboruwa collaborated with the Nigerian Bar Association, Lagos Branch, to challenge the power of the President to deploy troops to Lagos State, to quell the anti-fuel subsidy protests that was declared by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and human rights activists in January 2012. Adegboruwa was stopped along with other protesters and tear-gased by the military in the Palm Grove area of Lagos.
He had also challenged the decision of policemen and policewomen in (Adegboruwa v. IGP) to embark on strike on the day scheduled for national elections. His contention was that being within the category of those rendering essential services, policemen should not withdraw their services or go on strike at such a crucial period.
He was also known to have spear-headed cases involving Fawehinmi v. IGP-constitutional case on interpretation of section 308 of the 1999 Constitution on immunity of Governors from police investigation.
Also, Adegboruwa v Governor is a constitutional case on whether a Governor can hand over the reigns of power to any other officer other than the Deputy Governor when he travels abroad or is otherwise unavailable. Adegboruwa was involved in the landmark case between Nkanna v. Governor on the effect of Sections 8 and 9 of the Education Law of Lagos State on free education in primary and secondary schools in Lagos State and Uwagbue v. AG. Lagos, a constitutional case filed on behalf of 50 prisoners in conjunction with the Civil Liberties Organisation to challenge their indefinite detention as awaiting trial inmates.
Adegboruwa is also currently handling various cases on land disputes, chieftaincy, contracts, maritime, constitutional law, tort, matrimonial causes, company disputes, libel, election petitions, landlord and tenant among others.
He was born Samuel Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, a prince, on March 21, 1965 into Ropeda Ruling House, which produced the immediate past Olikan of Etikanland in Ilaje Local Govt Area of Ondo State and was called to the bar in 1995.
He is not only making impact in the legal profession as a lawyer, he is also a Christian and a minister of God at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). He is married to Mrs. Oreka Adegboruwa, a lawyer and they are presently blessed with five children.
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