The Yoruba Self- Determination Movement (YSDM) has condemned the Appeal Court decision in the violation of the human rights case brought by Sunday Adeyemo a.k.a Sunday Igboho against the Department of State Service (DSS). The movement views the decision of the court as totally unacceptable because it is not grounded on sound legal reasoning.
We view the decision of the court as more of a political statement rather than a blind approach to law and justice. The fact of the case bordered on the lawless acts of a government agency that illegally raided the home of Mr. Adeyemo without a warrant killed two occupants of the house and destroyed property worth millions of Naira.
Justice Hassan’s opinion that the case did not qualify under the enforcement of human rights because there was “a threat to national security” is wrong because Mr. Igboho has never been arrested, declared wanted, nor accused of any crime before the DSS assassination squad barged into his home in the dead of the night shooting sporadically.
YSDM said Mr. Igboho was lucky to have escaped with his life on 21 July 2021, when armed Department of State Services invaded his home and terrorized his family and relatives. It condemned, in the strongest possible terms, the court verdict which, it said, meant, that if the DSS had been successful in assassinating Mr. Igboho, it could have been justified as a national security assassination.
It will be recalled that in the human rights suit filed by Sunday Igboho, Justice Akintola had awarded N20 billion as damages against the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami ( SAN), and the Department of State Services (DSS), over the invasion of Mr. Igboho’s Ibadan residence on 1st July 2021. In that midnight attack, two associates of Igboho were, reportedly, killed during the invasion and wanton destruction of vehicles and property was said to have taken place. Mr. Igboho filed a suit against the DSS, seeking the protection and enforcement of his fundamental human rights, as a result. The DSS, however, appealed the award of N20 billion Naira damages, by Justice Akintola, which the Court of Appeal set aside.
The movement admonished judges who frequently side with the government in human right abuse cases to desist from such practice and embrace the water-tight principles of separation of powers. The Judiciary is not an arm of the executive branch and must dispense justice without fear or favor. Certainly, neither government nor the courts should subsume the idea of justice under the imperative of the system by using draconian methods to silence vocal voices of dissent. While the first presiding judge reached a fair decision; the court of appeal judge had allowed injustice to prevail in his court.
YSDM said that under Article 20: 1 of the African charter on self-determination Mr. Igboho, is without a doubt entitled to relief and compensation for the brazen egregious violation of his fundamental human rights.
YSDM affirms that all peoples have the right to exist and are entitled to inalienable human rights under the United Nations
charter of which Nigeria is a signatory. The movement said it was appalling and shameful that the Court of Appeal, in rejecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as being applicable in this state, the Court of was saying to Nigerians that Nigeria has no regard for the international agreement of which it was a signatory.
The apex self-determination movement said what took place at Mr. Igboho’s residence was nothing short of terrorism and assassination of innocent citizens, under the guise of national security actions. The Appeal Court verdict, in this case, therefore sets Nigeria on the road to a new era of and back to the days of state-sponsored assassinations to silence opposition and all forms of dissent, it added.
The Movement said the argument of the Court of Appeal, in a human rights case, that “When there is a threat to national security, the enforcement of fundamental rights is secondary” was the same argument used, by State Security Services, to justify the state-sanctioned assassination of Kudiratu Abiola, Pa Alfred Rewane and others opposed to the Government of the day, following the 12 June 1993 election.
The Appeal Court also held there was no evidence, including an autopsy, to back the claim that two of Mr. Igboho’s associates were killed, at his residence, during the DSS invasion. However, according to the report, DSS invading squad took the bodies of the deceased with them and the bodies were never seen again.
YSDM noted, however, that widespread extrajudicial killings and the enforced disappearance of citizens, reported by relatives of victims of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) tells a different story and the court ruling in this regard was a bad omen. It drew attention to Amnesty International’s briefing on this subject, which states:
“Victims of enforced disappearance are people who have disappeared; from their loved ones and their community. They go missing when state officials (or someone acting with state consent) grab them from the street or their homes and then deny it, or refuse to say where they are.
These people are often never released and their fate remains unknown. Victims are frequently tortured and many are killed or live in constant fear of being killed. They know their families have no idea where they are and that there is little chance anyone is coming to help them.”
YSDM said the Nigerians should be particularly worried about the Court of Appeal’s verdict, which its Legal Department would study carefully.
YSDM Publicity Committee