Section 33 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution ("the Constitution") provides that persons living in Nigeria, shall have a right to life and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life unless in execution of the sentence of a court of a criminal office of which he has been found guilty. Section 33 (2) of the Constitution provide the exceptions to the right to life to include deprivation of life in defence of a person or unlawful violence or defence for property; to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained and for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny.
However, the number of persons who have lost their lives through unlawful acts of commission or omission by the Nigerian State, law enforcements agents and even private individuals contrary to the provisions of Section 33 of the Constitution have been on the increase in recent times. The social media is replete with stories and videos of unlawful detention, torture and extra-judicial killings by the Nigerian Police and other law enforcement agents. In most cases, the perpetrators of these dastardly acts are not arraigned before a competent Court to answer for their actions.
While the Federal Government is still trying to suppress the activities of the notorious Boko Haram sect in the North-East Region, the acts of banditry of Fulani herdsmen in the Middle-Belt, the incessant killings of persons in Southern Kaduna and increase of deaths caused by private persons has led to wide public opprobrium and questions on the real value of human life in Nigeria. This has put Nigerians in reasonable apprehension that their lives are likely to be deprived unlawfully.
In order to ascertain and for the Court to define what the Right to Life of persons in Nigeria actually means, Emmanuel Ekpenyong Esq. ("the Plaintiff") commenced Suit Number FHC/ABJ/CS/755/2020 against the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ("the 1st Defendant") and the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice in Nigeria ("the 2nd Defendant") at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division ("the Court"), for the Court to declare that his Right to Life under Section 33 (1) of Constitution means the protection of his life beyond mere physical and animal existence and extends to the right to live a meaningful, complete and dignified life.
The Plaintiff also urge the Court to declare that his Right to Life prohibits unlawful acts of omission or commission by the Nigerian State, Nigerian Police, other law enforcement agents and even private individuals capable of terminating his life. He also seeks a declaration that his Right to Life extends to his full residence rights, right to livelihood and sustenance, right to equal opportunities, right to education, right to a decent environment, right to healthcare, right to adequate security and right to an identity.
The Plaintiff seeks a declaration that his Right to Life extends to the right against torture and inhuman treatment, right to personal liberty, right to fair hearing, right to private and family life, right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, right to freedom of expression and the press, right to freedom of movement, right to freedom from discrimination, right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria, right to adequate compensation upon compulsory acquisition of property as enshrined in Sections 34 to 44 of the Constitution.
The Plaintiff urge the Court to grant an order of mandatory injunction compelling the Defendants to take immediate steps to overhaul and reform the Nigerian Police and other law enforcement agencies to incorporate forensic science in their criminal investigations and ensure that every unlawful death committed are thoroughly investigated and the culprit arraigned before a Court of competent jurisdiction.
The Plaintiff urge the Court to grant an order of mandatory injunction compelling the Defendants to take immediate steps to improve the remuneration and welfare package of the Nigerian Police and other law enforcement agents in Nigeria and reorient them on what the Right to Life entails and the extent of their powers in criminal investigations.
Lastly, the Plaintiff urge the Court to grant an order of mandatory injunction compelling the 1st Defendant to put in place the basic amenities at Trademore Estate, Lugbe, Abuja where he resides to enable him to live a meaning, complete and dignified life.
The suit is before Justice N. E. Maha of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division.
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