President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), have questioned the right of a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje, to stop the prosecution of
five of the eight judges’ whose houses were recently raided by operatives of the DSS across the country.
Ogungbeje had on October 28, approached a Federal High Court in Abuja through an exparte application, seeking an order restraining President Buhari, the Department of State Service and others from re-arresting or taking any “untoward action” against five five embattled judges.
However, delivering a bench ruling after Ogungbeje’s counsel, Mr. Ayo Ogundele, moved the ex parte application, Justice Gabriel Kolawole had held that he needed to resolve a number of issues including the locus standi of the plaintiff in an inter-party hearing before he could make a pronouncement on the prayer.
The plaintiff had sought, “An order of interim injunction restraining the respondents, their agents, servants, privies, men, officers or anybody deriving authority from them by whatever name called from further arresting, intimidating, arresting, inviting, seizing or taking any untoward action against the arrested and affected honourable judges and judicial officers pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”
The plaintiff had filed the ex parte application following his apprehension that the judges arrested in various parts of the country betweencould be arraigned in court any time soon since the Federal government has already filed criminal charges against Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court and Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court.
But rather than grant the prayer sought by Ogungbeje, the judge directed that the motion on notice seeking similar prayer be served on the respondents.
He ordered that five of the six respondents, comprising President Buhari, Director-General of the DSS, Mr. Lawal Daura; the DSS; the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami; and the Inspector-General of Police, to appear in court on November 15 to show cause why the interim restraining order against further arrest of the judges should not be granted.
The sixth respondent to the suit is the National Judicial Council.
In a notice of preliminary objection dated November 3 and brought pursuant to Section 6 (6) (a) and (b) of the 1999 constitution, President Buhari through his council Chiesonu Okpopo, raised three grounds for objection to the suit.
“The applicant did not disclose his locus standi to initiate and maintain the suit.
“There is no lis between the applicant and the respondents in this suit.
“The applicants suit as constituted and conceived is a mere academic exercise.”
The 1st and 4th respondents (Buhari and AGF), also accompanied the preliminary objection with a written address, with a sole issue for the court’s determination.
The Federal Government is asking, “whether the applicant has the locus standi to initiate and maintain the suit.”
Citing the case of Adesanya and the President in defining the term locus standi, the respondents argued: “in our legal system the law is settled without any authority to the contrary that before a litigant can invoke the judicial powers of this honourable court as enshrined in Section 6 (6) (b) of the 1999 constitution, he must show clearly that his ‘Civil Rights and Obligations are affected or would be affected by the act complained of.
“My Lord, it is our humble submission that a calm perusal of the affidavit in support of the applicant’s originating motion, shows clearly that he did not disclose any personal injury he suffered by the act complained of.
The respondents equally attached copies of the Warrant to Search with which the DSS used to raid the homes of the judicial officers.
Consequently, they urged the court to decline the plaintiff’s request.
Meanwhile, Justice Kolawole yesterday adjourned the suit, and ordered the plaintiff to file his responses to the respondents preliminary objection and written address.