Governor Fashola of Lagos State insists that the destitute persons were not deported.
A Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed February19 for further mention of a suit filed by “seven destitute persons” against the Lagos State Government over what they called inhuman treatment.
The plaintiffs are Joseph Aniebonam, Osondu Mbuto, Osondu Agwu, Nnenna Ogbonna, Emily Okoroariri, Friday Ndukwe and Onyeka Ugwu.
The seven instituted the suit for and on behalf of 76 others.
Joined as respondents are the Attorney General of Lagos State, Ade Ipaye; and the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Umar Manko.
When the case was mentioned on Wednesday, the counsel to the plaintiffs, Ugo Ugwunnadi, told the court that the case was coming up for the first time.
He informed the court that he had only been served with court processes by the first respondent (AG), and had yet to receive any process from the second respondent.
He, therefore, applied for a date for hearing.
The counsel representing the Lagos Attorney General, Tayo Odupitan, told the court that he had filed a counter-affidavit, written address and an exhibit, all in response to the plaintiffs’ suit.
He, however, informed the court that Mr. Ipaye has indicated his intention to defend the suit personally.
Meanwhile, counsel to the Commissioner of Police, Sam Adebeshin, told the court that he had yet to regularise the processes on behalf of the second respondent.
Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia adjourned the case to February 19 for mention.
The applicants, had in their motion, asked the court to declare that they, as Nigerian citizens, were entitled to their fundamental rights as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
They are seeking a declaration that their arrests and detention in various camps in Lagos and subsequent “deportation” to Anambra on July 24, 2013, for no offence, amounted to a serious breach of their fundamental rights.
They are also seeking an order mandating the respondents to tender a written apology to them by publishing same in three national newspapers continuously for 30 days for unlawful and gross violation of their constitutional rights.
They also want an order directing the Lagos government to re-integrate the applicants into Lagos State, and a perpetual injunction restraining the respondents, their agents, and officers from further deporting or refusing them free entry into the state.
In addition, the applicants want N1 billion damages jointly and severally for a breach of their rights.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State government, in its counter-affidavit, contended that the “transportation” of the plaintiffs was not done out of malice, but out of genuine intention to re-unite the applicants with their families.
They further averred that the applicants were assisted by the state government to rejoin their families after pleading that they had no homes, relatives or businesses in Lagos State.