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Obey court judgments or face contempt proceedings, SERAP warns Buhari govt

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has warned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to take meaningful steps to implement several judgments it obtained against the Federal Government, to raise money to fund the budget, reduce the growing level of borrowing, and address the escalating rule of law crisis in the country.

According the organisation, unless the judgments are immediately implemented, it would consider pursuing contempt proceedings against the Federal Government in the national courts, and seek international sanctions against the administration for its persistent disobedience of court judgments.

SERAP maintained that among the several judgments the Buhari administration has failed to obey is the judgment by the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja, which awarded N30million as compensation for the ill-treatment of a journalist Agba Jalingo, who faced trumped-up and politically motivated charges of treason.

The development was disclosed in a statement released by the organisation on Wednesday, and made available to Ripples Nigeria by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.

The statement read in part: “Another judgment the Buhari administration is failing to implement is the judgment by the ECOWAS Court which found the government responsible for abuses by oil companies and directed it to hold to account the companies and other perpetrators of oil pollution in the Niger Delta.

“We urge President Buhari to without further delay publicly instruct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami SAN to ensure the effective implementation of all of the judgments obtained by SERAP and other outstanding judgments.”

On his part, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, who presented SERAP’s Law Report to the public at the media briefing organised by SERAP in collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation, USA, on Wednesday, said he was surprised that the Buhari administration took a swipe at SERAP for going to court to challenge acts of corruption and official impunity.

His words: “In any country that professes to practice rule of law, it is the height of ‘primitivity’ for government to challenge the act of going to court by the citizens.

READ ALSO: SERAP wants Court to stop Buhari, Pantami from shutting down telecoms

“This was firmly rooted in the case of Ojukwu v Gov of Lagos State which was decided during the military era. The victory over the military junta came through protests and other acts challenging official impunity in court and other lawful fora.

“It is quite ironical that those who have protested against misrule and impunity are the past are now in bed with those in government and clamps down on attempt protest by the citizens.”

“SERAP has embarked on public interest litigation to promote accountability and transparency in line with the tenets of the rule of law and constitutionalism. The publication of the SERAP Law Report could not have come at a better time than now that anti-democratic forces are bent on imposing fascism on the country.

“It is sad to note that many of the judgments delivered in favour of SERAP have been ignored by the Federal Government contrary to Section 287 of the Constitution which has imposed a binding obligation on all authorities and persons in Nigeria to comply with the verdicts of all courts. I enjoin SERAP to take advantage of the provisions of the law to enforce the judgments without any further delay.”

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