A businessman, Mr Umeh Ezeh, has dragged the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) before a Federal High Court seeking enforcement of his fundamental human rights and rights under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
In the enforcement of fundamental rights suit filed by his counsel, Mr Emeka Odikpo, Ezeh averred that the closure of Nigeria’s land borders infringed on his fundamental rights and rights under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The Nigeria Customs Service and the Attorney General of the Federation as first and second respondent respectively in the suit filed on February 13 in Lagos.
Ezeh is seeking a declaration of the court that the NSC does not have the legal power to declare “partial closure of Nigerian land borders and consequently direct that lawful goods cannot be exported or imported by lawful means through Nigerian land borders.”
Ezeh, who is listed as applicant in the suit is seeking a declaration that the directive of the first respondent (Niger Customs Service) that “lawful goods cannot be imported or exported through Nigerian land borders, even upon payment of the appropriate duties and taxes violates Sections 41 and 44 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Revised Treaty of Economic Community of West African States.”
Recall that the Federal Government, through the NCS closed Nigeria’s land borders to all movement of goods since August 2019 and so far, there is no timeline for its reopening.
Odikpo is seeking an order of the court for perpetual injunction restraining the NSC and the AGF jointly and severally from enforcing the order of partial closure of the land borders in Nigeria with respect to goods that are not subject to any prohibition from importation into Nigeria, save upon the enactment of a valid law by the National Assembly.”
He said the presidential directive was unreasonable and has brought great hardship against small scale traders who under the ECOWAS treaty and the African charter on human and people’s rights are entitled to trade freely on legitimate and lawful goods upon payment of due taxes and duties.
He added that the order should be set aside because the transportation of goods by air cargo is highly expensive and only ostentatious goods can be exported or imported through that mode of transportation. He said more than 99 per cent of goods that are imported and exported amongst West African countries can’t afford that.
He, therefore, asked the court to grant his client’s the relief that the first respondent (Nigerian Customs Service) acted unlawfully as it violates the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the African charter on Human and Peoples rights and the revised treaty of Economic Community of West African States.