The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has filed a preliminary objection to a suit instituted by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the governorship candidate of the party in Kogi State, Senator Dino Melaye, seeking an order of mandamus to compel the anti-narcotics agency to arrest and prosecute the President-elect, Senator Bola Tinubu over alleged forfeiture of some funds in his bank accounts over two decades ago in the United States.
In its notice of preliminary objection signed and filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja by its Director of Prosecution and Legal Services, Joseph Nbona Sunday, NDLEA submitted that the application by the PDP, which is the 1st applicant with Melaye as 2nd, is incompetent, adding that the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain it and as such, should be struck out.
Listing its grounds for the objection, the NDLEA said both PDP and Melaye “do not have a locus standi, they do not possess an interest peculiar to them and above the interests of all other Nigerians, the only underlying specific interest of the 1st applicant then becomes political in nature,” adding that the investigation and prosecution of Tinubu were targeted at removing him as a bonafide candidate in the February 25, 2023, presidential election.
While noting that the foundation of the PDP’s application was the proceeding of the US District Court of the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division in the US, “the judgment in the said proceeding was given “with prejudice”, adding 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 Cosmas Depunn said 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 has a healthy relationship with the government of the United States of America, the name of Tinubu “by whatever acronyms or combination of names has never featured in the exchanges we had with the United States of America.”
He further claimed 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.
While noting that though NDLEA relies on intelligence and information from foreign and domestic partners as well as public-spirited individuals, both PDP and Melaye have never for once since the establishment of the Agency in 1990 made or forwarded any complaint, information, and/or intelligence on Tinubu or any other person in Nigeria or outside the country relating to illicit activities on drug matters until 17th January 2023.
The litigation officer in the sworn affidavit among others, also made the following submissions:
“That this suit as presently constituted does not confer the court with jurisdiction.
“That the 1st applicant does not have locus standi to institute this suit as it does not possess interest peculiar to it and above the interests of all other Nigerians.
“That the only peculiar interest of the 1st applicant is to get rid of the 6th respondent as a candidate of a rival political party. The interest of the 1st applicant is political.
“That the 3rd respondent is an independent government agency that has no political colouration or affiliation. The court has to insulate the 3rd respondent from political controversies.
“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.”