ECOWAS Court sitting in Abuja, Nigeria, have barred a lawyer from Nigeria Federal Ministry of Justice with name S. A. Ogunlowo Esq, who is a principal state counsel from further appearing before ECOWAS Court, and further slammed the FG with a fine of N500,000.00 in a case filed by human rights lawyer, Samuel Ihensekhien Jnr. in suit no: ECW/CCJ/APP/43/21 between Patrick Eholor V. Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The suit, which was filed by fiery human rights lawyer, Samuel Ihensekhien Junior on behalf of the President of One Love Foundation group’s President, Chief Patrick Eholor, also seeks damages and restraining orders against Nigerian government, to prevent it from enforcing Sections 5, 4, 3, 1 of NBC code on all broadcasting stations.
The sections relate to reportage and giving details of security issues and persons affected by insurgency and terrorism in Nigeria. But the group argued that the actions offend all relevant laws and the African Charter on Media and Broadcasting Rights and Freedom of Press.
The foundation had in a suit No. ECW/CCJ/APP/43/21 in 2021 sought an order of court directing the former, President Muhammadu Buhari-led government and the National Broadcasting Corporation(NBC), a government agency, to desist from enforcing Section 5, 4, 3, 1 of the NBC code on all broadcasting stations. The ECOWAS court who today being 30th may 2023,partly heard the matter.
Noted and expressed displeasure with the manner and demeanour with which the FG lawyer was treating the court in conducting his case, the ECOWAS Court further cautioned the Federal Ministry of Justice lawyer to maintain decorum and respect the court or be sanctioned for contempt.
The lawyer from Federal Ministry of Justice, representing the FG even after caution made further steps to interrupt the court proceedings. It was at that point the court noted and prohibited him by a short ruling from further appearing before court with a directive to the FG being a member state of ECOWAS to refrain the lawyer from further appearance in his court.
The ECOWAS Court in this court proceedings also observed that the Office of AGF of Nigeria was served all court processes on this matter since 2021 without a filed defence by the FG and the FG have now come to ECOWAS Court to stall further proceedings of this case in view of the recent and newly filed statement of defence and other processes filed by the FG just this morning in this case. The court also expressed displeasure on the way the FG lawyer was conducting his case and continuously intruding the ECOWAS Court.
The ECOWAS Court also considered and heard the application of Samuel Ihensekhien Jnr being counsel to the applicant for the application for costs because of the incompetence of FG legal team to this case. The ECOWAS Court then had another ruling awarded costs and punitive fines,in the sum of N500,000 alongside the earlier one of N750,000 against the AGF and Federal Republic of Nigeria and which is to be paid before the next court sitting, which is scheduled for 26th September, 2023. This was also after the FG legal team sought for adjournment of this suit to another date.