Lawyers appeal judgment on Executive Order 6

A lawyer walks through the compound at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi district in Lagos, Nigeria, May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Two Abuja based legal practitioners, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere and Kenneth Udeze, have gone to the Court of Appeal to challenge the October 11 order of Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which held that the Executive Order 6 did not violate the right of citizens to own property.

Justice Ojukwu had, in her judgment on the suit marked FCH/ABJ/CS/470/2018, held that the Executive Order 6 enacted by President Muhammadu Buhari was in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The court held that it was within the constitutional powers of the president, as granted by the constitution, to issue executive orders for the execution of policies by the executive arm of government, provided such orders respected the principles of separation of powers.

Miffed by the opinion of Justice Ojukwu on the matter, the applicants, through their counsel, Obed Agu, are seeking an order of the appellate court to set aside the judgment of the lower court and, in its stead, allow the reliefs sought by the appellants vide the originating summons filed on July 13, 2018.

Also, the plaintiffs filed a motion on notice for an order directing and imposing an injunction restraining the respondents, jointly and severally, whether by themselves, officers, agents, servants, privies or howsoever called from enforcing, executing, or any other manner whatsoever giving effect to the Presidential Executive Order No. 6 of 2018, pending the determination of the appeal.

In the notice of appeal, the applicants said the trial judge erred in law and thereby occasioned a miscarriage of justice to the appellants when he ruled that the Executive Order No. 6 of 2018 did not violate the right of citizens to own property.

The appellants argued that the learned trial judge erred in law and occasioned a miscarriage of justice to the appellants when he unilaterally varied and/or modified the express terms of the Executive Order 6 and the constitutional provisions by issuing judicial caution that the powers of the 2nd respondent (Attorney-General of the Federation) under the Executive Order 6 must be exercised in accordance with the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which opinion did not arise from the express provision of the Executive Order 6 nor raised before it by any of the parties thereto.

More so, the applicants told the Court of Appeal that Justice Ojukwu erred in law and thereby occasioned a miscarriage of justice to the appellants when she shut her eyes against the materials placed before her and deliberately failed and/or refused to make specific findings of fact on the issue submitted it by the appellants.

In addition, the applicants submitted that the judgment delivered by Justice Ojukwu was against the weight of evidence.

Meanwhile, addressing judiciary correspondents at the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, Ugochinyere stated that President Muhammadu Buhari had drifted from democracy to fascism, authoritarianism, etc.

“President Muhammadu Buhari’s Executive Order No. 6 and his midnight denial of some citizens of their fundamental right of movement with his banning of 50 Nigerians without the order of a competent court is obnoxious, barbaric, capricious, arbitrary, and the greatest assault to the sacred institutions of constitutional governance.

“It takes away the sacred fundamental rights that are God-given and constitutional.

“It seeks to strike terror and rain fear in the minds of Nigerians. It overthrows the functions of the court of law and rapes the powers of the parliament to make laws and drives a burning spear through the heart of our constitution,” Ugochinyere stated.

He added: “It is no longer in doubt that President Muhammadu Buhari is on the inglorious path to return Nigeria to the dark days of 1983 during which he dropped military decrees like the atomic bombs of the 2nd World War, especially Decree 4 that trampled on citizens’ rights and provisions of our constitutional governance.

“That his attempt to return Nigeria to the inglorious path of 1983 where rule of law and constitutional governance are raped shall be resisted.

“Let all Nigerians know that the judgment of Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu that we instituted against President Muhammadu Buhari never gave the president the power to arbitrarily ban citizens from travelling,” he stated.

According to Ugochinyere, “The banning of citizens from travelling abroad and the attempt to give effect to Executive Order No. 6 without first seeking the order of the court is a misinterpretation of the judgment of the Federal High Court on executive order 6.

“His actions usurp the functions of the court and the legislative powers of the National Assembly that has already promulgated the EFCC, ICPC, and Money Laundering Act, all of which allow for interim forfeiture and attachment for citizen’s money and property but with an order of a court of law.”

Ugochinyere aligned with the report that “the Judge at the Federal High Court said that although Executive Order No. 6 was not itself wrong, the Attorney General must obtain an order of the court and that the enforcement of the order must never infringe on the rule of law or derogate the doctrine of separation of powers or the fundamental rights of Nigerians.

“Let it be known that we, the plaintiffs, in the suit challenging the legality of Executive Order No. 6 are not challenging the powers of the president to make Executive Orders, this the constitution has empowered him to.

“But such orders must conform to laid down procedures, due process, respect for citizens’ rights and rule of law and must not violate any provisions of the constitution.”

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