The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has struck out a suit seeking to set aside the conviction of actress Funke Akindele, alias Jenifa, her husband, Abdu Rasheed Bello, and 236 others who were prosecuted for violating the state’s 2020 lockdown and social distancing order to check the spread of Covid-19.
Justice Akintayo Aluko held that the suit was incompetent and disclosed no reasonable cause of action.
Akindele and her husband were convicted on April 6, 2020, by the Lagos State Magistrates’ Court in Ogba, days after they held a crowded house birthday party contrary to Lagos State’s social distancing order.
But a Lagos-based lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, approached the court, challenging the constitutionality of the Lagos State Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulations 2020 pursuant to which Akindele, her husband and 236 others were convicted and sentenced.
Joint respondents in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/588/2020 are the Lagos State Government, Attorney-General of Lagos State, Commissioner of Police, Lagos State and the Inspector-General of Police.
Ogungbeje also sought, among others, an order compelling the Respondents jointly and severally to tender a public apology in three widely read newspaper publications to persons/Nigerian arrested, arraigned, tried, convicted and sentenced.
But the Lagos State Government and the AG opposed him through their counsel, a Deputy Director, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Mr Adebayo Haroun.
The 1st and 2nd Respondents filed a notice of preliminary objection against the suit on July 10, 2020.
According to them, Section 8 of the Quarantine Act, 2004 allows the governor to make the regulations where the President of Nigeria had not made such regulations.
They contended that the Regulation was made for public safety, public good and protection which is larger and far greater than that of an individual such as the Applicant.
In his judgment delivered on June 2, 2022, the court agreed with the government.
Justice Aluko said: “In total, I hold that this suit has disclosed no reasonable cause of action against the Respondents.
“The instant suit is incompetent and the court lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate over same.
“Accordingly, this suit is hereby struck out for those reasons.”