A 70-year-old man, Mr. Innocent Omorogiukpon, has slammed N2 billion suit against the Supreme Court of Nigeria over his ‘unlawful conviction’ in 1975.
In a suit number FHC/B/CS/30/2020 filed by the Counsel to the Convict, Esiri Charles Esq, has dragged the Supreme Court to a Federal High Court in Benin City, seeking a reversal of his ‘unlawful conviction’, alleging that the apex court was partial in its judgment.
The N2 billion is for general and or exemplary damages for compensation for the unlawful imprisonment for six years in addition to a public apology to be published in a national daily and for such order or orders as the court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.
The Septuagenarian, a former Staff of the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs, Lagos State, was convicted on April 2, 1974 by Lagos High Court. In the process of time, the judgment was further upheld by the apex court Court of Nigeria on June 12, 1975 for alleged unlawful receipt of gratification.
The Supreme Court of Nigeria, however, in June 12, 1975, upheld the judgment of the lower court and sentenced the now Septuagenarian to a jail terms of six years imprisonment, which is running concurrently.
The Claimants argued that based on the partial judgment, his constitutional and fundamental human rights was grossly violated, as his six years jail term was illegal.
He also stated that as a result of the alleged illegal imprisonment, him had suffered permanent and continuing humiliation by being tagged an ex-convict, lost his job in the Federal Civil Service in 1974 till date having been employed in 1971as a administrative officer and various appointments, politically, socially and others.
The septuagenarian said the decision to drag the apex court to the Federal High Court, Benin City was as a result of the failure of the registrar of the court to grant him a certified true copy of the judgment.
According to his affidavit, “I was employed in 1970 by the cabinet office Lagos and was posted to the Ministry of Internal Affairs as an administrative officer grade 5, Ikoyi Lagos.
“The following year being 1971, I was included among the list of those to write the administrative exam for the year 1971 for all federal administrative office that have not written it or have written and failed.
“This did not go down well with my senior officers and some of my counterpart, because the exam is seen as a very though exam and will enhance rapid promotion for those that passed.
“In 1974, I was convicted by the Lagos High Court on a corrupt charge of receiving unlawful gratification which was a complete set-up by government officer (machinery) to rope me in, and the court rule without any proper consideration or considered ruling sentenced me to six years imprisonment, a judgment based on probability and I was sent to Kirikiri maximum prison by the Chief Superintendent of the prison.
“Since there was no Court of Appeal as at that time, I now appealed to the Supreme Court having being dissatisfied with the decision of the High Court in exercise of my rights under the constitution.
“A date for hearing was set aside, I was reproduced on the said date, the case was called, my lawyer announced his appearance and what was heard next was “Appeal Dismissed, we rise”.
“I wrote to the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Lagos, on the 25th day of August, requesting for a copy of the Supreme Court judgment in the criminal appeal, I was told that there is no written judgment in the case”,he alleged.
In the suit, Omoroguikpon, want the court to determine, whether the delivery of judgment without a record book or a written judgment is constitutional and not actionable, and also whether a judgment delivered on a probability or a vague judgment lawful and not a violation of the constitution.
He, however, sought the reliefs of the lower court for the enforcement of his fundamental rights as enshrined in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
He also prayed for a declaration of the payment of his salary up to when he would have been due for retirement, payment of his retirement benefits as necessary (pension and gratuity).
The case which is at Federal High Court 2, Benin City slated for hearing (today), Monday, May 31, 2021.