By G9ija

A lawyer, Emmanuel Ekpenyong, has appealed against a Federal High Court (FHC) judgment which held that his suit filed against some sections of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020, was not binding on the National Assembly (NASS).

Justice James Omotosho of FHC, Abuja, had, on April 18, nullified some sections of CAMA, 2020 which were considered to infringe on the fundamental human rights of the Nigerian citizens, following a suit filed by Ekpenyong.

Ekpenyong, an Abuja-based legal practitioner, had in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1076/2020, sued the National Assembly, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the Attorney-General for the Federation (AGF) as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.

In the originating summons dated and filed on Aug. 31, 2020, the lawyer prayed the court to determine whether the provisions of Sections 839, 842, 843, 844, 845, 846, 847, 848 and 851 of CAMA infringed on his rights to thought conscience, and religion as enshrined in Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), among others.

Delivering the judgement, Justice Omotosho agreed with Ekpenyong that the powers granted to CAC to regulate and administer Incorporated Trustees in Nigeria under Sections 839, 842, 843, 844, 845, 846, 847 and 848 of CAMA 2020 infringed on his right to freedom of thoughts.

The judge, who held that the lawyer had locus to institute the suit, struck down Sections 839, 842, 843, 844, 845, 846, 847, 848 and Section 851 of CAMA 2020, declaring same to be null and void, having been inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution.

Omotosho, however, agreed with the NASS argument that since Ekpenyong did not serve the legislature with pre-action notice in line with Section 21 of the Legislative Houses Power and Privileges Act, the suit was incompetent against the legislative organ.

Meanwhile, in his notice of appeal dated April 28, the lawyer sued the National Assembly, CAC and AGF as 1st to 3rd respondents respectively.

He argued that the trial judge erred in law when he held that his suit was incompetent against the NASS (1st respondent) because he failed to serve a three-month’s pre-action notice on the legislative body.

He further argued that the provisions of Section 46(1) of the constitution did not make service of pre-action notice on government agencies and statutory bodies, including the NASS, a condition precedent before he can apply to the trial court to enforce his fundamental human rights provided in Chapter IV of the constitution.

He said Paragraph 3(b) and (c) of the Preamble to the Human Rights Rules provided that the overriding objectives of the rules was for the purpose of advancing but never for the purpose of restricting the applicant’s rights and freedoms.

Ekpenyong, who sought four reliefs, prayed the court for an order allowing his appeal.

“An order of this honourable court setting aside the part of the judgment of the trial court which held that the action of the appellant is incompetent against the 1st respondent (NASS) because the appellant did not serve the 1st respondent with a pre-action notice pursuant to Section 21 of the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act.

“An order of this honourable court that the appellant’s suit is competent against the 1st respondent.

“An order of this honourable court that the judgment of Justice J.K. Omotosho of the Federal High Court Abuja Division delivered on April 18, is binding on the 1st respondent,” the application read.

No date has been fixed for the matter.