Court Fixes January 18 for MRA’s Suit Over AGF’s Failure to Make Regulations for Implementation of Anti-Torture Act

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Mrs. Bankeye Akinwale
Member of MRA’s network of lawyers

A Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed hearing for January 18, 2022 in a suit filed by Media Rights Agenda (MRA), against the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) over his failure to make rules and regulation for the effective implementation of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017 as required by Section 11 of the Act.

In the Motion Exparte filed on behalf of MRA by its lawyers,  Mrs. Bankeye Akinwale, Ms Chioma Nwaodike and Ms Obioma Okonkwo, pursuant to Order 34 Rules 1, 3(1) and (2) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2019; and Section 11 of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017, MRA asking the court to grant it leave to file a motion for judicial review against the AGF.

MRA is contending that Section 34 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended, provides for the right of dignity of human person while the Anti-Torture Act prohibits acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and prescribes penalties for such acts.  

The organization claimed in its grounds for seeking the reliefs claimed in the suit that by virtue of Section 11 of the Anti-Torture Act, the AGF is mandated to make rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the Act but that he has failed to do so.

It said in order to ensure that the AGF complies with the provision of the law, MRA wrote a letter of demand dated August 20, 2021 to him requested him to perform the statutory duty imposed on him by the Act.

MRA complained that despite its demand to the AGF, the Minister has failed, neglected and refused to comply with the demand and to perform his statutory duty.

The organization said following the refusal of the AGF to perform the statutory imposed on him by the Section 11 of the Anti-Torture Act, it had decided to approach the court to ask an order granting leave to the organization to apply for an order of mandamus to compel the AGF to perform the mandatory legal duty imposed on him by Section 11 of the Act and, in particular, to seek the following reliefs:

  • A declaration that the failure of the AGF o make rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017 as imposed on him by Section 11 of the Act is a breach of the law;
  • An order of mandamus compelling the AGF to carry out the duty imposed on him by Section 11 of the Act;
  • An order of mandamus compelling the AGF to carry out the request contained in its letter of demand dated August 20, 2021 delivered to him on August 23, 2021, wherein MRA requested him to make the rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the Act;
  • An order directing the AGF to pay to the organization the sum of N5 million as exemplary and aggravated damages for the flagrant violation of the Section 11 of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017.

In a 22-paragraph verifying affidavit, Mr. John Gbadamosi, a programme officer at MRA deposed that despite the enactment of the Act, various individuals and journalists in Nigeria are being attached and treated inhumanely by law enforcement agencies and other private persons.

He said since the Law came into force, the AGF had failed, refused and neglected to make any rule or regulation for the effective implementation of the Act

Mr. Gbadamosi claimed that the failure of the AGF to comply with the provisions of the Act has and is disrupting its effective implementation and is likely to infringe on MRA’s employees and journalists’ right to dignity of the human person.