Activist slams 50 billion Naira fundamental rights action against Anambra State Government, Police, Revenue Racketeers

……asks court to stop Obiano, Security Agencies from interfering in Trade
Unions in Anambra State.

….says Anambra State Government has failed Workers, imposed severe
hardships vide ‘multiple and illegal’ levies.

AWKA- A human rights activist, KeneChukwu Okeke MCSD; and the Chief
Ombudsman for the Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria (TOAN) has
instituted a 50, 000, 000, 000 NGN (Fifty Billion Naira) fundamental rights
action on behalf of tricycle workers against the Anambra State Government,
Governor of Anambra State, Commissioner for Transport, Inspector-General of
Police, Anambra State Commissioner of Police and Revenue Racketeers led by
one Emeka Jude Agummadu.

Okeke is praying the National Industrial Court of Nigeria to interpret or
apply the fundamental rights of tricycle workers in Anambra State
guaranteed under Articles 2, 5, 10, & 22 of the African Charter on Human
and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9, Laws of
the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; and Sections 34, 40, 42 & 44 of the
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended)
as it relates to freedom of association; and to sanction the Anambra State
Government, Police, and other non-state actors for so infringing upon the
fundamental rights of the Applicants.

According to Okeke, the Anambra State Government (1st Respondent) had on
the 5th day of July arbitrarily, maliciously, without any justification and
in ‘excess of jurisdiction’ proscribed the Tricycle Owners Association of
Nigeria (TOAN) from operating in Anambra vide a letter addressed to the
Commissioner of Police (6th Respondent) without affording the 1st Applicant
an opportunity to make representations before the issuance of the
proscription order which doth violence to Sections 36 (1), (2) & 40 of the
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

In the case marked NICN/AWK/33/2019 filed at the Registry of the National
Industrial Court, Awka Judicial Division on behalf of the Tricycle Owners
Association of Nigeria (TOAN), August 19, Okeke told the court that not
only that the fundamental rights inherent in the 2nd Applicants as members
of a trade union was violently breached but also the fundamental rights
which inhere in the 1st Applicant itself, as a registered trade union,
persona ficta corpus corporatum was contravened by the Respondents.

Okeke insisted that the actions of the Anambra State Government and the
Police was malafide, politically orchestrated, ill-conceived, with the sole
aim to “cause maximum damage” to the Applicants. It was further submitted
the fundamental right to freedom of association cannot be abridged or
circumscribed, save through a procedure permitted by law. Furthermore, it
was said that the 10th to 33rd Respondents invaded and forcefully took-over
all the tricycle parks belonging to the 1st Applicant in Anambra State at
the instance of the 1st to 4th Respondents, using the instrumentality of
the police therein named as the 5th to 8th Respondents. And that members of
the 1st Applicant refusing to be lurched or compelling to renouncing the
Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria (TOAN) or refusing to be coerced to
joining the 10th and 11th Respondents being an athwart labour association
are arrested, detained, assaulted, shackled and have their tricycles (tools
of trade) distrained.

Okeke stated under oath that whenever the 5th to 8th Respondents see any
commercial tricycle bearing the colour code, emblem or stickers of the 1st
Applicant, the 5th to 33rd Respondents working in cahoots, would arrest,
impound or distrain such tricycles, and compel or lurch such tricycle
workers (members of the 1st Applicant) to renounce the membership or any
association with the 1st Applicant, and thence coerced to subscribing to
the membership of the 10th and 11th Respondents but not after parting with
levies and fines imposed collectively by the 5th to 33rd Respondents at
various Police Stations.

He also said that the fundamental right to freedom from any form of
discrimination vide Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic
of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) is absolute, and cannot therefore be abridged
or circumscribed by any person, group of persons or authority; and that the
1st to 4th Respondents arbitrarily, maliciously and in ‘excess of
jurisdiction’ proscribed the 1st Applicant, so as to confer advantages on
the 10th to 33rd Respondents and to subjecting the Applicants to
disabilities or restrictions to which other associations are not made
subject to. And that the 5th to 8th Respondents have taken the membership
or any association with the 1st Applicant as grounds for arrests, detention
and discriminating persecutions.

“As at the material time of this deposition, majority of the members of the
1st Applicants vis-a-vis 2nd Applicants are still under forced hiding or
disappearance for fear of state-sponsored violent attacks on their persons.
Many are gone with a trace.” Okeke averred.

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He told the court that by the malafide actions of the Respondents, the
 Applicants are “subjected to an undeserved outrageous and unwarranted
contempt, cruelty, insolence, malice, oppression, humiliation, molestation,
embarrassment, degradation, and inconveniences vide the infringement of
their fundamental rights as guaranteed under Articles 2, 5, 10, & 22 of the
African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement)
Act, Cap. A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; and Sections 34, 40,
42 & 44 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as
amended).”

He said that the proscription order issued by the Anambra State Government
is “most opprobrious and denigrating” albeit misleading, baseless,
malicious and totally bereft of any foundation in common law howsoever.

It will be recalled that Anambra State Government had in a letter dated
June 13, proscribed the Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria (TOAN) from
operating from Anambra State. Kenechukwu Okeke, MCSD condemned the
purported proscription and demanded for an immediate reversal. He also
threatened legal action against the State and non-State actors should the
Anambra State Government fail to reverse the said proscription within 30
days.

However, Okeke said he had no choice than to seek legal redress, since the
Anambra State Government rather than mitigate the plight of hapless workers
is insensitive nay aggravates the pains of the poor masses.

“The Applicants are still at a loss as to why the Nigeria Police Force
under the overall command of the 5th Respondent have stooped so low or
denigrated itself to the extent of liaising or working in cahoots with
touts and revenue racketeers named as the 10th to 33rd Respondents to
arresting, detaining, harassing, intimidating, extorting, assaulting,
lurching nay compelling the members of the 1st Applicant to renounce any
form of association with the 1st Applicant and forcing the members of the
1st Applicant to sign or subscribe to the membership forms and levies of
the 10th and 11th Respondents as a condition for their bail.” Okeke
Asserted.

The Applicants said the “purported proscription” was also published by
several newspapers nationwide, international news platforms and on several
social media news.

Consequently, the Applicants sought fifteen(15) reliefs from the National
Industrial Court,  thus:

1. A DECLARATION that the freedom of association guaranteed under Article
10 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and
Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; and
Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999
(amended) is not merely a bundle of individual fundamental rights inherent
in the 2nd Applicants as natural members of the 1st Applicant but the
collective rights which inhere in the 1st Applicant itself as a registered
trade union, persona ficta corpus corporatum.

2. A DECLARATION that the proscription of the 1st Applicant, as contained
in the letter dated 13th June, 2019 vide AN/MOT/130/71 issued by the 3rd
Respondent on behalf of the 1st and 2nd Respondents without affording the
1st Applicant the opportunity to be heard or make prior representations
before the decision contained in the letter was made,  thereof violated the
fundamental rights of the Applicants and contravened Articles 2, 5, 10 & 22
of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and
Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; and
Sections 36(1), (2), & 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria, 1999 (amended) having impugned on the Applicants’ right to fair
hearing and freedom of association.

3. A DECLARATION that the proscription of the 1st Applicant by the 3rd
 Respondent acting on behalf of the 1st and 2nd Respondents, on the ground
of being ‘strange to Anambra State Government’, enforcement of same being
carried out by the 5th to 8th Respondents and the subsequent acts of
violence unleashed against the members of the 1st Applicant by the 10th to
33rd Respondents in pursuance to the said proscription is discriminatory;
and therefore constituted a violation to the fundamental rights of the
Applicants to associate freely, and freedom from any form of
discrimination, as enshrined under Sections 34 (1), 40 & 42 of the
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (amended) but not
limited to the express provisions, as ensconced in Articles 2, 5, 10 & 22
of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and
Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

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4. A DECLARATION that the compulsion of the 2nd Applicants by the
Respondents to renounce their membership or association with the 1st
Applicant or coercion into joining the 10th and 11th Respondents, being an
athwart labour or anti-trade union associations operating severally under
the names and styles of ‘KKAWAAPU Amalgamated Tricycle Union of Anambra
State’; or ‘Unified Tricycle Owners and Riders Association of Anambra,
UTORAAS’ contravened the fundamental rights of the Applicants, as it
relates to freedom of association by virtue of Articles 2, 5, 10 & 22 of
the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and
Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; and
Sections 40 and 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
1999 (amended).

5. A DECLARATION that the threats by the Respondents to arrest, detain,
harass, torture, molest or assault  members of the 1st Applicant or the 2nd
Applicants for their refusal to be lurched or compelled to renounce the 1st
Applicant or coerced to joining the 10th and 11th Respondents, being an
athwart labour or anti-trade union associations operating severally under
the names and styles of ‘KKAWAAPU Amalgamated Tricycle Union of Anambra
State’ or ‘Unified Tricycle Owners and Riders Association of Anambra,
UTORAAS’ is unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional, and doth violence to the
fundamental rights of the Applicants as enshrined under Articles 2, 5, 10 &
22 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and
Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; and
Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999
(amended), relating to freedom of association.

6. A DECLARATION that the actual victimization, discrimination, arrest,
detention, forceful distrainment of tricycles, or assault by the
respondents unleashed against the members of the 1st Applicant or the 2nd
Applicants for their refusal to be lurched or compelled to renounce the 1st
Applicant or coerced to joining the 10th and 11th Respondents, being an
athwart labour or anti-trade union associations operating severally under
the names and styles of ‘KKAWAAPU Amalgamated Tricycle Union of Anambra
State’ or ‘Unified Tricycle Owners and Riders Association of Anambra,
UTORAAS’ is unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional, null, void, and doth
violence to the fundamental rights of the Applicants as enshrined under
 Articles 2, 5, 10 & 22 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights
(Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9, Laws of the Federation of
Nigeria, 2004; and Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic
of Nigeria, 1999 (amended), relating to freedom of association.

7. A DECLARATION that the continued victimization, discrimination, arrest,
harassment, detention, forceful distrainment of tricycles, torture,
intimidation, molestation or assault by the Respondents unleashed against
the members of the 1st Applicant or 2nd Applicants for their refusal to be
lurched or compelled to renouncing the 1st Applicant or coerced to joining
the 10th  and 11th Respondents, being an athwart labour or anti-trade union
associations operating severally under the names and styles of ‘KKAWAAPU
Amalgamated Tricycle Union of Anambra State’ or ‘Unified Tricycle Owners
and Riders Association of Anambra State, UTORAAS’ is unlawful, illegal,
unconstitutional, null, void, and constitutes a gross infringement on the
fundamental rights of the Applicants as enshrined under Articles 2, 5, 10 &
22 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and
Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; and
Section 40 & 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
1999 (amended), relating to freedom of association.

8. A DECLARATION that the unlawful invasion and forceful take-over but not
limited to both civil and criminal forfeitures made against the properties
of the 1st Applicant and 2nd Applicants respectively by the 10th to 33rd
 Respondents at the behest of the 1st to 4th Respondents vide the
instrumentality of the 5th to 8th Respondents smacks of victimization,
deprivation, discrimination and grossly contumacious to the fundamental
rights of the Applicants enshrined under Articles 2, 5, 10 & 22 of the
African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement)
Act, Cap. A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; and Section 44 of
the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (amended),
relating to compulsory acquisition of property.

9. AN ORDER OF MANDATORY INJUNCTION directing the Respondents to issue a
public apologia to the Applicants via publications or ‘public
announcements’ in the print and electronic media, for so infringing on the
fundamental rights of the Applicants; and for the undeserved, outrageous
and unwarranted contempt, cruelty, insolence, malice, oppression,
humiliation, assault, molestation, embarrassment, degradation and
inconveniences to which the Applicants was subjected to by the Respondents,
viz.

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a. 5 Printed Newspapers published in Nigeria id est.
i. Vanguard,
ii. The Punch,
iii. The Nation,
iv. Guardian, and
v. Thisday;

b. 5 Printed Newspapers published in the Swiss Confederation id est.
i. Tamedia AG;
ii. Basler Zeitung Medien;
iii. Grupo;
iv. Fondazione per il Corriere del Ticino; and
v. Société Neuchâteloise de Presse SA;

c. 5 Printed Newspapers published in Belgium id est.
i. Het Belang van Limburg,
ii. De Tijd,
iii. De Morgen,
iv. Grenz-Echo, and
v. L’Avenir;

d. 20 Internet Media Platforms as prescribed in the Second Schedule.

e. 20 Terrestrial Radio Stations as prescribed in the Second Schedule.

f. 5 Terrestrial Television Stations as prescribed in the Second Schedule

10. AN ORDER OF PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the Respondents either by
themselves, their agents, privies, assigns, servants, police officers or
other security agencies (within the purview of the National Security
Agencies Act)  from intermeddling with the activities of the 1st Applicant
or interlarding with the fundamental rights of the 1st Applicant to accept
as members, tricycle workers or employers who freely, voluntarily and
willingly applied to become members of the 1st Applicant without
victimization, discrimination, arrest, harassment, detention, forceful
distrainment of tricycles, torture, molestation or assault.

11. AN ORDER OF PERPETUAL INJUCTION restraining the Respondents either by
themselves, their agents, privies, assigns, servants, police officers or
other security agencies (within the purview of the National Security
Agencies Act)  from lurching or compelling the Applicants to join the 10th
and 11th  Respondents, being an athwart labour or anti-trade union
associations operating severally under the names and styles of ‘KKAWAAPU
Amalgamated Tricycle Union of Anambra State’ or ‘Unified Tricycle Owners
and Riders Association of Anambra, UTORAAS’ and from any further threats to
victimize, arrest, harass, torture, or assault  members of the 1st
Applicant or the 2nd Applicants, or the actual victimization, arrests,
harassment, torture, intimidation, molestation, or assault of members of
the 1st  Applicant or the 2nd  Applicants.

12. AN ORDER OF PERPETUAL INJUNCTION  restraining the Respondents either by
themselves, their agents, privies, assigns, servants, police officers or
other security agencies (within the purview of the National Security
Agencies Act) from harassing intimidating, threatening, victimizing,
arresting, torturing, intimidating, or assaulting or howsoever to bringing
to an end the lawful activities of the Applicants or visiting any form or
manner of disadvantage or punishment on members of the 1st  Applicant or
2nd Applicants operating in Anambra State or any part thereof, on account
of their refusal to be lurched or compelled to joining the 10th and 11th
Respondents, being an athwart labour or anti-trade union associations
operating severally under the names and styles of ‘KKAWAAPU Amalgamated
Tricycle Union of Anambra State’ or ‘Unified Tricycle Owners and Riders
Association of Anambra, UTORAAS’.

13. AN AWARD OF GENERAL DAMAGES in the sum of  10, 000, 000, 000 NGN  (Ten
Billion Naira only) against the Respondents jointly and severally for the
violation of Applicants’ fundamental rights as guaranteed under and
Articles 2, 5, 10 & 22 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights
(Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9, Laws of the Federation of
Nigeria, 2004; and Section 44 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic
of Nigeria, 1999 (amended),; and Sections 34, 40, 42 & 44 of the
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

14. AN AWARD OF AGGRAVATED AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES in the sum of 40, 000,
000, 000 NGN Only (Forty Billion Naira Only)  against the 1st  to 4th
 Respondents jointly and severally for the undeserved outrageous and
unwarranted contempt, cruelty, insolence, malice, oppression, humiliation,
molestation, embarrassment, degradation and inconveniences to which the 1st
Applicant was subjected to by the Respondent vide the infringement of the
Applicants’ fundamental rights as guaranteed under Articles 2, 5, 10 & 22
of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and
Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; and
Sections 34, 40, 42 & 44 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

15. AND FOR SUCH FURTHER ORDERS as the Honourable Court may deem fit to
make in the circumstances of this case.

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