NDLEA asks court to strike out suit seeking Tinubu’s arrest, prosecution over drug case

THE National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has asked the Federal High Court, Abuja, to dismiss a suit instituted by the Peoples Democratic Party and a chieftain of the party, Dino Melaye, against the President-elect, Bola Tinubu.

The duo are seeking an order of mandamus to compel the anti-narcotics agency to arrest and prosecute Tinubu over the alleged forfeiture of some money in his bank accounts in the United States over two decades ago.

In a preliminary objection filed on Wednesday, the director of prosecution of the NDLEA, Joseph Sunday, said the application by the PDP and Melaye was “incompetent” and that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain it.

The NDLEA said the suit should be struck out because it was “political in nature”, and was not in the interest of Nigerians. Rather, Sunday said, it was targeted at removing Tinubu as the bonafide winner of the February 25, 2023 presidential election.

The agency described an order of mandamus as an equitable remedy that 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,” the suit reads.

A litigation officer attached to the NDLEA directorate of prosecution, Chia Depunn, stated in an affidavit supporting the preliminary objection that the NDLEA has a “healthy” relationship with the US government and affirmed that Tinubu’s name has never come up in any drug-related exchanges between the two countries.

He added that the name of Tinubu “has 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 affidavit read, “That this suit as presently constituted does not confer the court with jurisdiction. That the 1st Applicant does not have the locus standi to institute this suit as it does not possess any interest peculiar to it and above the interests of all other Nigerians.






     

     

    “That the suit is baseless, frivolous and brought in bad faith with the sole aim of achieving a political objective using the instrumentality of the court process. That the facts and circumstances of the case require the court to apply the doctrine of judicial self-restraint.

    “That the Order of Mandamus must be applied in good faith to promote the public interest. That the Order of Mandamus should not produce an indirect or underlying result.

    “That the suit was not a criminal indictment or charge. That the standard of proof in civil forfeiture is based on the balance of probabilities. That the standard of proof in a criminal indictment, charges and proceedings is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. That the burden of proof in criminal procedure is much higher than that of civil procedure.”

    The NDLEA said the application by the PDP was “dead and legally unsustainable”, and urged the court to dismiss it with substantial cost.

    Nurudeen Akewushola is an investigative reporter and fact-checker with The ICIR. He believes courageous in-depth investigative reporting is the key to social justice, accountability and good governance in society. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 on Twitter.

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