The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has filed a preliminary objection to a suit instituted by the Peoples Democratic Party and a chieftain of the party, Dino Melaye, against the president-elect, Bola Tinubu.
The applicants are seeking an order of mandamus to compel the anti-narcotics agency to arrest and prosecute Tinubu over the alleged forfeiture of some funds in his bank accounts in the United States over two decades ago.
In its notice of preliminary objection signed and filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday, April 26, 2023, by its Director of Prosecution and Legal Services, Joseph Sunday, the agency submitted that the application by the PDP and Melaye, as first and second applicants, was incompetent, adding that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain it and as such, should be struck out.
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Listing its grounds for the objection, the NDLEA argued that neither PDP nor Dino Melaye had the legal right to institute the suit.
It said “the only underlying specific interest of the first applicant then becomes political in nature,” adding that the investigation and prosecution of Tinubu were targeted at removing him as a bona fide candidate in the presidential election.
The agency argued that an order of mandamus was an equitable remedy and should only be applied in good faith and should not produce an indirect or underlying result.
“The doctrine of judicial self-restraint precludes this honourable court from delving into matters with political colouration or matters aimed at getting direct or indirect political goals”.
While noting that the foundation of the PDP application was the proceeding of the US District Court of the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division, it said the judgment in the said proceeding was given “with prejudice.”
It added that “the said proceedings and judgment have no judicial value,” and as such, “the supposed cause of action of this suit as constituted is baseless and legally unsustainable.”
In an affidavit in support of the agency’s preliminary objection, a litigation officer attached to its Directorate of Prosecution and Legal Services, Chia Depunn, said that as an independent agency of government saddled with the responsibility to investigate, arrest and prosecute persons involved in drug trafficking and other related offences in Nigeria, the NDLEA had a healthy relationship with the government of the United States of America.
It stated further that the name of Bola Tinubu “by whatever acronyms or combination of names” had never featured in the exchanges it had with the US.
Depunn further claimed that the name of Tinubu had also not featured in the radar and database of the agency as a person arrested, investigated, or prosecuted in connection with drug or other related offences.
The agency noted that though it relied on intelligence and information from foreign and domestic partners as well as public-spirited individuals, PDP and Melaye had never, since the establishment of the agency in 1990 made any complaint on Tinubu relating to illicit activities on drug matters until January 17, 2023.
It, therefore, maintained that the suit was baseless.