Court declines to compel Fed Govt to pay ex-CJN Onnoghen N130m

Court declines to compel Fed Govt to pay ex-CJN Onnoghen N130m

Thursday, October 15, 2020 5:52 pm

Walter Onnoghen.

By Akin Kuponiyi
        A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, the Federal capital of Nigeria, has dismissed a suit seeking N130million as compensation from the Federal Government and Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) for violation of the rights of ex-Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen.
    The presiding Judge Justice Taiwo Taiwo declared among others that the applicant, DR. N.S Nwawka, filed the suit without Justice Onnoghen’s permission, thus he had no locus standi to do so.
In his October 12 ruling, the judge stated that : “I have looked at the originating processes filed by the applicant herein, with due respect to him, I do not see any nexus between him and the respondents jointly or severally.
“I do not see his remote or immediate interest in the matter in which he has not been instructed to file by the former Chief Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I pose a question to him and this is whether the Former CJN has told him that he is incapable of fighting his own battle or that he is even ready for any battle against anybody?”
       Justice Taiwo also declined to grant Nwawka leave to apply for a referral of some “constitutional questions to the Court of Appeal” for determination.
     Consequently he declared that: “The applicant’s motion is incompetent as it is and I therefore dismiss same.
Nwawka, who appeared in person, brought the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/16/2020 on January 7, 2020
At the hearing of the substantive case on July 15, he averred that sometime in 2019, Immigration officers stationed at the international airport prevented the former CJN from travelling to Ghana and confiscated his international passport without any prior order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
He also alleged that the Federal Government has refused to pay Onnoghen his terminal benefit and that there is no pending prosecution of the former CJN to warrant such treatment.
Dr Nwawka said he approached the court as a concerned citizen to enforce Onnoghen’s fundamental rights to travel in and out of Nigeria unhindered and rights to freedom from inhuman, humiliating and degrading treatment.
Besides the N130million as general and exemplary damages, he also sought an order of the  court directing the respondents to immediately release Onnoghen’s international passport Number A50445233 confiscated since November 11, 2019, as well as a perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from any further stopping him from foreign travel.
    However the government’s lawyer, Mrs Habiba U. Chime opposed him, on the ground that Nwawka did not disclose how his legal rights were affected by the acts complained of.
She argued further that the applicant did not disclose any legal or equitable interest of his that was attacked and that the suit was wrongly commenced at the Federal High Court

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