LEGAL practitioner and human rights activist, Femi Aborisade, has dragged President Muhammadu Buhari, Oyo State governor, Attorney-General of the Federation, Attorney General of Oyo State and Oyo State Commissioner of Police to court in a suit in which he is seeking for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights and that of all persons resident and working in 13 local government areas (LGAs) of Oyo State. The state has a total of 33 statutory local government areas.

Femi Aborisade, human rights activist.

The LGAs of Oyo State mentioned in the suit for the enforcement of the fundamental human rights of residents and those working therein include Ibarapa Central, Ibarapa East, Ibarapa North, including Igangan Town; Atisbo, Irepo, Iseyin, Itesiwaju, Iwajowa, Kajola, Oorelope, Olorunsogo, Saki East & Saki West.

It will be recalled that Igangan, which is a town in Ibarapa North, was at the centre of a recent raging controversy arising from an alleged attack on the residence of the town’s Sarikin Fulani as a response by Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeniyi Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, to alleged violent activities of Fulani herdsmen in the area.

In the suit filed on Wednesday, February 10, 2021, at the Ibadan Judicial Division of the Federal High Court, the sole applicant in the suit, Aborisade, is praying the court for six reliefs in order to enforce his fundamental human rights as well as for those resident and working in the 13 LGAs.

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Aborisade, in the suit which has Femi Falana, SAN; Funmi Falana, FCI Arb., Oladapo Ajisegiri, Esq., all of Falana & Falana’s Chambers, as counsel; is asking for; one, a declaration that he and all other persons resident or working in the above LGAs are “entitled to the fundamental right to life guaranteed by Section 33 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999 as amended and article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”

Two, a declaration that every person resident or working in the said LGAs are “entitled to the fundamental right to freedom of movement guaranteed by section 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and article 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”

Three, a declaration that forthwith, “the Respondents are under a legal obligation to protect the life and property of every person” living and working in the said LGAs.

Four, “an directing the Respondents to arrest, investigate and prosecute suspected armed herders, suspected armed robbers and suspected kidnappers who commit criminal trespass, rape, murder, armed robbery, kidnapping and other criminal offences” in the said LGAs of Oyo State.

Five, “an order directing the Respondents to adopt adequate measures to ensure the protection of the life and property of every person” and “an order directing the Respondents to establish Conflict Resolution Committees among the various communities” in the said LGAs of Oyo State.

Grounds for relief
Aborisade, in the suit equally provided several grounds for seeking the court’s reliefs.

According to him, “every person resident and/or working in Nigeria is entitled to the fundamental right to life guaranteed by section 33 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004,” as well as “entitled to the fundamental right to freedom of movement guaranteed by section 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and article 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”

According to Aborisade, President Buhari and the other respondents “are under a legal obligation to protect the life and property of every person living and/or working” in the aforementioned local government areas of Oyo State, just as they (respondents) “are under a legal obligation to arrest, investigate and prosecute suspected armed herders, suspected armed robbers and suspected kidnappers who commit criminal trespass, rape, murder, armed robbery, kidnapping and other criminal offences in the mentioned communities of Oyo State.”

The human rights lawyer also averred that the respondents “have failed to guarantee the fundamental rights of the people living and/or working” in the affected communities just as they (respondents) have equally “failed to secure the lives and properties of people living therein.”

Violent incidents
In his 19-paragrapgh affidavit in support of his application, Aborisade, who is also the Oyo State Deputy Chairperson of Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 And Beyond (ASCAB), declared that as a resident in one of the affected local government areas along with others living and working there, “have been subjected to untold violent attacks by armed kidnappers and bandits consistently, in an unprecedented degree, particularly in the last three years.”

As a result of these violent attacks, Aborisade declared, “several people have been killed while many others have been shot and macheted by the assailants, particularly in the aforementioned local government areas making up Ibarapa and Oke-Ogun geographical areas of Oyo State.”

According to the plaintiff, as a result of the persistent violent attacks by armed kidnappers and bandits, he has been unable to visit members of his family living in Itasa, in Iwajowa local government area of Oyo State for the past one year.

“The armed gangs and bandits have violently attacked many farmers and dispossessed them of their farmlands in Ibarapa Central, Ibarapa East, Ibarapa North, including Igangan; Atisbo, Irepo, Iseyin, Itesiwaju, Iwajowa, Kajola, Oorelope, Olorunsogo, Saki East & Saki West local government areas of Oyo State.

“Scores of women and girls have been abducted and raped by the armed gangs and bandits in the aforementioned local government areas making up Ibarapa and Oke-Ogun geographical areas of Oyo State.

“The police stations in the said local government areas of Oyo State have failed or refused to arrest and prosecute the members of the armed gangs terrorising law abiding persons in Ibarapa Central, Ibarapa East, Ibarapa North, Including Igangan; Atisbo, Irepo, Iseyin, Itesiwaju, Iwajowa, Kajola, Oorelope, Olorunsogo, Saki East & Saki West local government areas of Oyo State.

“Many girls living in the said local government areas of Oyo State have stopped attending schools for fear of abduction by the armed gangs.

“The several appeals made by concerned citizens to the respondents to halt the violent attacks on the people living and/or working in the aforementioned local government areas of Oyo State have been ignored without any justification.

“The respondents have failed to provide the persons living and/or working in the said local government areas of Oyo State with security to protect their lives and properties.

“Unless the reliefs sought by me in this application are granted, insecurity, menacing threats to life and property in the aforementioned local government areas of Oyo State will continue unabated,” Aborisade averred in his affidavit, while arguing that he has been actively involved in ensuring peaceful co-existence between herders and one of the host communities.

“I have been actively involved in efforts to ensure peaceful co-existence between herders and the host community in Itasa but influx of herders who are not known to the resident Fulanis in Itasa has reduced the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to nothing but a paper tiger in the absence of government involvement in such mutually agreed framework for peaceful co-existence initiated by communities. Herein attached (and marked Exhibit 1) is the MoU dated 15th August 2017, which I helped to prepare pro-bono and which the host community and Fulanis resident in Itasa executed,” Aborisade posited in the affidavit.

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