…American Bar Association, others to give counsel to court.
by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
Former chairman of National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Prof. Chidi Anselem Odinkalu, has dragged Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and four others, before a Kaduna Federal High Court over an alleged violation on his rights, demanding for N950 million as compensation, among others.
Meanwhile, the American Bar Association, South African based, United Nations expert on Human Rights, Mr. Mini Kai, Global Rights and Open Society for Justice Initiative, have all indicated interest to serve as advisers and friends to the court (amicus curiae) in the case, which came up for hearing on Wednesday.
In a statement of Suit, No: FHC/KD/CS/97/19, made available to journalists Wednesday in Kaduna, Odinkalu had approached the court, presided over by Justice Peter Mallong Hoommuk, through his Counsel, Barrister Gloria Mabeia Ballason, and charged el-Rufai, the Inspector-General of Police, Kaduna State Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, the Attorney-General of Kaduna State and Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, as 2nd, 5th, 1st, 3rd, and 4th Respondents to the case.
Recalled that Odinkalu had aired his doubt on national TV over claims by el-Rufai in February, 2019, where the governor alleged that 66 and, later 130 Fulani, were killed by Adara native, saying the allegation was inciting and unbecoming of a governor.
He also challenged el-Rufai to show proof, saying, “Few days later, the then Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, Ahmad Abdullraman, clarified that there was no evidence to that claim of the governor.
“But el-Rufai, through the Kaduna State DPP ordered the arrest and prosecution of Odinkalu’s trial in which his lawyer, Ballason, said was a secret trial, and did not follow due judicial process and an abuse on his Fundamental Human Rights.”
Odinkalu is seeking, among others, a declaration that, “the efforts by the Respondents to seek to or in fact influence, initiate or procure the prosecution of the Applicant for the honest expression of his views in the interview he granted to Channels Television, Abuja, on/or about the 16th February, 2019, violates the Applicant’s rights to personal liberty and free expression under Sections 35 and 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, CFRN.
“A declaration that the attempt by the Respondents to procure prosecution of the Applicant before the courts in Kaduna state for a broadcast emission on a Television medium in Abuja operated by license on National Broadcasting Corporation, NBC, is outside the jurisdiction of a state, given that broadcasting is a subject of under item 66 of the Exclusive Legislative List and, therefore, unconstitutional.
“A declaration that it is wrong in law and gross violation of the rights of the Applicant to fair hearing, procedural fairness in law in the form of due process, a fair and impartial trial for a direct criminal complaint to be filed against the Applicant without him being served with the said direct criminal complaint and a subsequent ex-parte order obtained to Section 36 of the CFRN Rights:
“An Oder for Compensation in the sum N200m against the 1st and 3rd Respondents;
“An Order for Compensation in the sum of N250 million for injury to character, self-reputation, esteem, feeling of pride and international reputation of the Applicant;
“An order in the sum of N500m only to the 2nd Defendant, who is notorious for serial abuse of fundamental rights;
“The cost of the suit: ‘10% interest per annum on damages until total and final liquidation of same. Any other relief(s) that the court may seem fit to make in the circumstances.’ ”
Explaining the interest of the American Bar Association and others, Ballason said: “Usually, when you have a case of Fundamental Human Rights like this, the court can grant leave for such experts to participate. Their role is to provide guidance and counseling on the case such that democracy and good governance can be achieved.
“As experts with global knowledge on matters like this, they shall enrich the process with their knowledge and experiences so that the best outcome shall be produced.
“They are coming as neutral bodies; and it is good that the judge has so allowed them to participate,” she said.
The case has been adjourned for hearing for 2nd July, 2020.