Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola (SAN) has kicked against the action of officers of the Nigeria Police for allegedly denying his Rivers State counterpart, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi access to the State House.
He also provided justifications for the decision of the state government to appeal the judgement of the Court of Appeal, which absolved ex-Chief Security Officer to General Sani Abacha, Major Hamza al-Mustapha and another suspect, Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan for alleged complicity in the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.
The governor yesterday explained the standpoints while giving account of stewardship to mark his 2,300th day in office at the Lagos Television Complex, Agidingbi, noting that the lowliest citizens could not be denied access to his house.
Fashola, who addressed a wide range of stakeholders including party leaders, civil society practitioners, human rights activists and community leaders among others, said the action of the police officers was a breach of Amaechi’s rights to freedom of movement.
He explained that the question about the police and denial of access to the Rivers State Government House “is not a matter of my opinion. It is a matter of commonsense; even the lowliest citizen cannot be prevented from access to his house.
“If such a citizen is now denied an access to his house, it will be a breach of fundamental human rights to freedom of movement. But as I always said, none of the fundamental human rights is absolute.”
He explained a citizen’s right to movement could be restricted if, for instance, police come “to arrest you for reasonable allegation. Your right to freedom of expression does not extend to making utterance to damaging people’s reputation without justification.
Such right is not absolute, and you can face criminal libel and civil defamation.
“Your right to freedom of association does not allow you to be member of secret cult.
There is a law that prevents citizens from being a member of secret cult. None of these rights is absolute. Each of the rights creates corresponding duties. Your rights to transact business must stop where my right to move on the roads begins. You cannot turn our motorway to shops just because you have the right to do business.”
But the governor argued that the clause that entrenched fundamental human rights in the 1999 Constitution “is a corresponding exchange of rights and responsibilities. The better we understand this the more progress we will make.”
On Kudirat’s murder, the governor said the the judgement of acquittal of Major Al Mustapha for charges of conspiracy and murder by the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal had indeed generated some mixed reactions.
He explained that the state government appealed the judgement because the 1999 Constitution “permits a further appeal to the Supreme Court; because the state government places the highest premium on every human life and because the families of the victims deserve every right to agitate the matter to the final court.”
Just as the accused, Mustapha and Shofolahan who was Kudirat’s personal assistant, were entitled to fair hearing, Fashola said the state government has appealed on behalf of Kudirat’s family members to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the governor listed a number of projects, which he said, have been executed in the 100 days, citing a 41.06 percent pass rate, according to him, represented an improvement over the 39 percent pass rate recorded in 2012.
He explained that a 7 percent pass rate was recorded in 2007 when he assumed office as the governor of the state, though the trend had changed to what he described as an excellent rate of 41.06 percent recorded in 2013.
He mentioned other scorecards include the arrest of a notorious gang of five robbers who had been terrorising the Lagos Island and the apprehension of the kidnap gang that abducted a number of people including Chairman of the Ejigbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Kehinde Bamigbetan.
According to the governor, their arrest was made possible due to the commitment and dedication of the officers in the Lagos Police Command after almost a month of surveillance that eventually led to the arrest of the criminals.
He added that over 200 inner city roads across the state “are currently in various stages of construction progress. As we complete work on a number of them this year, we expect to see improved connectivity and reduced journey times.”
He cited the five ferries, which he said, the state government had revived from the lagoon “are in various stages of repairs and we expect to see three of them back in service later this year and the remaining two to join early next year.
“This will add to the 59 ferries we have licensed for 44 operators who are already providing service. The monthly passenger ridership on our waterways is now 1,788,370 passengers per month from 495,010 passengers per month in 2010 and the numbers are still growing. I am also pleased to report that work is moving towards conclusion of the Osborne and Mile Two Jetties preparatory to making them fully functional in a short while