Court strikes out suit challenging Funke Akindele’s conviction

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has struck out the suit seeking to set aside the conviction of actress Funke Akindele and her husband, Abdu Rasheed Bello, and 236 others who were prosecuted for violating the state’s 2020 lockdown and social distancing order to check the spread of Covid-19.

Akindele, her husband, Abdul-Rasheed, and 236 others were convicted on April 6, 2020, at the Ogba Magistrate Court for organising and attending a crowded birthday party a few days before, contrary to the Lagos State Social Distancing Order.

At the hearing, presided over by Justice Akintayo Aluko, in 2020, Olukoya Ogungbeje, representing the actress and others, challenged the constitutionality of the Lagos State Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulations, 2020 which was applied in the conviction and, hitherto, used in the sentencing of Akindele, her husband, and 236 others.

However, an objection dated July 10, 2020 was filed by the Lagos State Government and the Attorney-General through their counsel, Haroun Adebayo.

The counsel argued that the governor could make regulations in place of the President, in pursuant of Section 8 of the Quarantine Act, 2004. He contended that the regulations were made for public good, safety, and protection which override that of the applicants.

In his judgment dated June 2, 2022, Justice Aluko observed that the governor made the regulations under the Lagos State Public Health Law, 2015, and particularly, Section 8 of the Quarantine Act which grants the governor power to make regulations not made by the president in Section 4 of the Act.

Justice Akintayo Aluko held that the suit was incompetent and disclosed no reasonable cause of action.

Justice Aluko said, “In total, I hold that this suit has disclosed no reasonable cause of action against the Respondents. The instant suit is incompetent and the court lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate over same. Accordingly, this suit is hereby struck out for those reasons”.

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