Court adjourns Lagos indigenes’ case against State Govt, Federal Character, others to Oct 19

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Barr Yakubu Eleto, lead counsel for Lagos Advocacy Group, addressing journalists after court session at Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, on Friday June 24, 2022. Photo: KEMI KASUMU

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By KEMI KASUMU

The case bothering on marginalisation of Lagos State indigenes filed against Lagos State Government, Federal Character Commission and 17 others some selected indigenes of the state came up on Friday.

The indigenes under the aegis of Lagos Advocacy Group files the case before Justice Lewis Allagoa of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos praying the court for interpretation, particularly, of section 13 and 14 of the Constitution with regard to marginalisation of Lagos State indigenes failure by establishment in the state to ensure equitable distribution of political appointments.

The Group is also asking for interpretation of 3rd Schedule of the Constitution, which has to do with indigenes and also Section 3, 4 and 5 of the Federal Character Commission Act and the Schedule thereinunder, which talks about distribution of appointments in at least Federation and the states of the Federation.

When the case was called on Friday June 24, 2022, Justice Allagoa, having taken briefs and heard all parties involved from the inception of the case on October 19, 2020, contended that the application shouldn’t have come by way of originating summons as facts are contentious.

He further ordered that pleadings be filed as the evidences submitted are not enough to furnish plaintiff’s claims and, as such, the case was adjourned to the 19th day of October 2022 for parties to lead oral evidences.

Speaking to The DEFENDER after the court session, the lead counsel for the Lagos Advocacy Group, Barr Yakubu Eleto, who is also the first plaintiff and claimant in the suit described the day as bright for the alleged marginalized indigenes of Lagos as, according to him, the Judge said he agreed with the concerns of the complainants but need beyond documentary evidence to be convinced beyond reasonable doubt.

His words: “Definitely, we are indigenes of Lagos State, even though we are legal practitioners and we are equally professionals from Lagos State. We have come to court and what we are asking for is an interpretation for, particularly, section 13 and 14 of the Constitution, which has to do with marginalisation of Lagos State indigenes. It has to do with equitable distribution of political appointments. And we also asking for the interpretation of the 3rd Schedule of the Constitution, which has to do with indigenes and also Section 3, 4 and 5 of the Federal Character Commission Act and the Schedule there too, which talks about distribution of appointments in at least Federation and the state of the Federation.

“We have seen that, as indigenes of Lagos State, most of the key appointments of the state have not been given to indigenes of the state. They have been given to non-indigenes. All their names are in the court. All of us know them, who had been Commissioners here and later became Governors in their states, who had been Commissioner here and has become Vice President, who had been Commissioners here and also became Senators in their respective states.

“By this way, they have been channelling the resources of Lagos State and using same to build their own states. We now felt that this thing is too much.

“There are laws, Section One of the Constitution, which says that, “We the people of Nigeria, we have come together to live as one sovereign body where there will not be injustice of one person over the other, where there will not be discrimination of one person over the other”,” he quoted.

“So, if they are now discriminating, it means that they have gone against the spirit and letters of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“And so we said the next thing we are going to do, we are not going to carry gun, we are not going to carry cutlass, we don’t need to even demonstrate on the streets. We said let us take our protest to court. That is what we have taken to court.”

Relaying outcome of Friday’s proceeding, Barr. Eleto said, “And what the court has done today is to tell us that, “Okay, I am agreeing with you but I’m not too much convinced. I want oral evidence. The documentary evidences you give me are just statistics. Bring people who are victims of this marginalisation.” That is what the court has said and has adjourned to October 19, 2022 for.

According to the Group’s lawyer, who was in court with three other lawyers, “None of the defendants filed a case. What they just came with is preliminary objection. And what they are saying is that the case is not justiceable, that the case is speculating, that we don’t have locus standi.”

The Lagos Advocacy Group had on October 19, 2020 sued 19 defendants including the Federal Character Commission, Lagos State Government, National Assembly, President of Nigeria, Lagos State House of Assembly, Head of Service of the Federation, among others of which Barr. Olamide Ibrahim, accompanied other lawyers representing Lagos State Government, was present and took the new date as pronounced by the Judge.


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