Lockdown: Court strikes out suit challenging Funke Akindele’s conviction

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Lockdown: Court strikes out suit challenging Funke Akindele’s conviction

The Ikoyi Federal High Court has dismissed a suit seeking to overturn the conviction of a popular actress, Funke Akindele, and 237 others convicted for violating the state’s lockdown and social distancing regulations against COVID-19 spread in 2020.

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 sentencing of Akindele, her husband, and 236 others.

Other respondents to the suit included the Lagos State Government, Attorney-General of Lagos State, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, and Inspector-General of Police.

The applicants also prayed the court to, among others, order the respondents to tender a joint public apology to all persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced in three widely read newspapers.

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.

“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,” he said.

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