A Federal High Court in Lagos, Friday, granted a stay of execution on its earlier ruling barring restriction of movement during environmental sanitation days in the state. Justice Mohammed Idris said the exercise would continue pending the determination of a suit challenging the ruling at the Court of Appeal.

In March, the judge had ruled that the restriction of movement during the sanitation exercise, which takes place every last Saturday of the month, was unlawful and a violation of the citizens’s right to liberty and freedom. According to the judge, the restriction of movement on those days violated Sections 35 and 41 of the Constitution which guaranteed personal liberty and right to movement.

Mr. Mohammed voided the power of the state government and its agents to arrest any citizen found moving between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. on those days. After the ruling, the Lagos State government had filed an appeal challenging the judge’s decision and the jurisdiction of his court. Ade Ipaye, the Lagos State Attorney-General, noted that the judge did not declare environmental sanitation exercise illegal, only the restriction of movement.

Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, who filed the suit before the high court against the state government, had argued that the restriction of movement was illegal and obnoxious. He said the exercise violated the provisions of Section 35 and 41 of the Constitution. He also argued that it violated Article XII of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

The lawyer said he was compelled to institute the case after he was arrested by agents of the state on June 29, 2013 while on his way to appear on the Sunrise programme on Channels Television. “The fact that an act has endured for years would not be a reason for the court not to strike it down,” Mr. Adegboruwa said. “I will pray my Lord to give a ruling before March 28, which is another last Saturday of the month and free myself and other Lagosians from this obnoxious practice.”

The counsel for the Lagos State Government, Jonathan Ogunsanya, had told the court to dismiss Mr Adegboruwa’s application for being an abuse of court process and for failure to disclose any material fact. He also argued that the exercise was instituted in the interest of the public.

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