By Lukman Olabiyi, Lagos
Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court, Lagos, has nullified the suspension of Mr Lee Edward Evans, a United States (US) trainer engaged by the Athletes Federation of Nigeria (AFN), for being unlawful and inconsistent with the natural and justice.
The court also quashed the sanctions imposed on the US trainer by the AFN and one Dr Ken Anugweje, while also restraining them from imposing any sanctions against the US trainer, who is also a consultant to the Lagos State, from practising his trade or profession in Nigeria.
The judge also made an order setting aside the report of the AFN’s anti-doping committee fair hearing panel held on February 17, 2014, for being devoid of fair hearing, speculative and being arrived at in a manner unknown to law.
Justice Faji also awarded the total sum of N46,430,000 in favour of the former Olympian, being the total money and special damages which he ought to have earned from the period of four years that his appointment was unlawfully suspended.
The US trainer, who is also a medical doctor, was suspended on February 17, 2014, by a panel set up by the AFN after he was alleged to have given a prohibited substance to an athletic, Cecilia Francis, who was said to be a minor.
Not satisfied with the outcome of the panel, the US trainer instituted the suit against the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the Minister of Sports, who is also the Chairman, National Sports Commission (NSC), the AFN and Dr Ken Anugweje, who were listed as first to fourth defendants in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/1211/2014.
In the suit, Mr Evans had asked for eleven reliefs which include: a declaration that the World Anti-Doping Code, being an international treaty, ought to be domesticated into the municipal laws of the National Assembly pursuit to Sections 1 and 12 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria. And a declaration that the ratification of World Anti-doping Code by the executive arm of the Federal Government of Nigeria, without more makes n an incipient, emergent and inchoate piece of legislation with no force of law that is applicable in Nigeria.
The AFN and Dr Ken in their defence urged the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s suit for lack of jurisdiction.
However, Justice Faji, in a judgment delivered on December 21, 2020, dismissed the defendants’ notice of preliminary objections and nullified the suspension of the US trainer and also granted the above-listed orders.