The Federal High Court in Lagos State has ordered the Nigerian Customs Service to release the Ken Saro-Wiwa memorial bus allegedly impounded from Ogoni Solidarity Forum.
This was contained in a judgment delivered by Justice Akintayo Aluko in April, declaring that continued detention and seizure of the non-motorized Art Bus donated to the Ogoni People by a London-based organisation, PLATFORM improper and unjustifiable.
The judgement was given on the originating summons dated 20th of April, 2017 filed by Registered Trustees of Social Development Integrated Centre-Social Action, Mr Clenstine Akpobari and His Royal Highness, Mene Suanu T.Y Baridam.
The Plaintiffs subscribed the following questions for determination, namely; one, Whether the continued detention, seizure and/or withholding of the non-motorized Art Bus belonging to the Ogoni people as against the express recommendation/directive of the committee of the Federal House of Representatives to release same to its owner is not improper, illegal, unlawful, unjustified and abuse of office by the Defendants.
Two, whether, the appointed committee of the House of Representatives has and duly exercised its powers under the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) when it heard the complaint against the Defendants and made recommendation/ directive as to warrant the 1st and 2nd Defendants to be duty bound to act accordingly.
Three, whether, having regard to the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case, the Defendants can and 20.4.25 ought to benefit from the protection provided for under Section 2 (a) of the Public Officers (Protection) Act4Whether, having regard to the facts and
“Upon determination of the above questions, the Plaintiffs sought the following reliefs: one, a DECLARATION that the continued detention, seizure and/or withholding of the non-motorized Art Bus donated to the Ogoni People by the London based organization, PLATFORMis improper, illegal, unlawful, unjustifiable, unwarranted, oppressive, an abuse of office and a deliberate attempt by the Defendants to strangulate the Ogoni struggle for social justice and a right to a clean, safe and healthy environment A 2014-23.
“Two, a DECLARATION that the appointed committee of the House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria has and exercised its powers under Sections 62, 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to conduct investigations into the complaint brought before it by the Plaintiffs and that the recommendation/directive it made at end of such investigation is valid, lawful and constitutional.
“Three, a DECLARATION that the failure and refusal of the 1st and 2nd Defendants to act according to the recommendation/directive of the committee of the House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria to release the non-motorized Art Bus to the Ogoni people is improper, unlawful, illegal, unjustified, and amounts to an abuse of office by the Defendants.
“AN ORDER of this Honourable Court directing the Defendants to without further delay release and handover the non-motorized Art bus which is in their custody to the Ogoni people unconditionally and devoid of any administrative difficulties whatsoever.”
Given his ruling on the matter, the trial judge allowed all four reliefs sought by the plaintiffs.
He said, “Coming from the foregoing, I hold the view that the questions in the originating summons are worthy of being answered. Accordingly, questions (i) (ii) and (iv) are answered in the positive while question (iii) is answered in the negative all in favour of the Plaintiffs against the Defendants. Consequently, there is merit and substance in the case of the Plaintiffs.
“To this end, judgment is entered in favour of the Plaintiffs as follows: (a) Declarations in reliefs 1, 2 and 3 are hereby made. (b) Order in relief 4 is hereby granted upon payment of the requisite customs charges and duties Judgment delivered in the open court.”
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Committee on the matter in 2016 directed the Nigerian Custom Service to “release the said bus-like object (a caricature of a Black-Maria) or whatever name it is called to the Petitioner, Ogoni Solidarity Forum, using available administrative means devoid of avoidable difficulties.”
This directive was given after careful perusal of the written and oral submissions of all the parties involved.