PRESS RELEASE: LEDAP SUES DSS, AFG OVER OF ARREST JUDGES, SEEKS INJUNCTION TO STOP THEIR ARRAIGNMENT

Lagos October 24, 2016: Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has asked the Federal High Court Abuja to declare as unlawful the raid and arrest of judges by the State Security Services, and an order of injunction stopping the planned charge and arraignment in court of some of the arrested judges. The group claims in the suit that the judges cannot be charged and arraigned in court without the authorization of the National Judicial Council (NJC).
In a motion on notice for interlocutory injunction filed at the Federal High Court Abuja today, LEDAP seeks for “an order restraining the defendants/respondents (DSS and AGF) from filing any charge in court or arraigning before any court or arresting and/or detaining, inviting for questioning or searching the office or residence of any of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder or any other judicial officer in Nigeria unless with the authorization and referral of the National Judicial Council (NJC) pending the hearing and determination of the originating summons filed in this suit.”
In the originating summons also filed along with the motion for injunction, the court is asked to make the following orders:
  1. A DECLARATION that the statutory functions of the 1st defendant is the prevention and detection of crime against the internal security of Nigeria, and the protection and preservation of non-military classified matters concerning internal security of Nigeria.
  2. A DECLARATION that the 1st defendant is not authorized under its enabling law, namely, the National Security Agencies Act or any other law in force to engage in the investigation and prosecution of corruption, economic, or financial crimes in any form or manner, or in the investigation and prosecution of any crime whatsoever against any criminal suspect in Nigeria.
  3. A DECLARATION that the statutory functions of the 1st defendant is to collect intelligence information on crimes against internal security and non-military classified matters concerning internal security of Nigeria and to pass such information to the appropriate agency authorized by law to investigate and prosecute such crimes, namely, the Nigerian Police Force created under the Police Act, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission created under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, the Independent anti-Corruption and related Practices Commission created under the Independent anti-Corruption and related Practices Commission Act, the National Agency on the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons created under the National Agency on the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons Act, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency created under the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act; and in matters concerning serving judicial officers of any of the courts mentioned in section 6(5) of the 1999 Constitution, to the National Judicial Council established under section 153(1)(i) of the 1999 Constitution and authorized under section 158 (1) and paragraphs 20 and 21 of Part 1 Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution to exclusively deal with matters relating to judicial officers.
  4. A DECLARATION that the raiding and search of residences of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder by the staff of the 1st Defendant in the night of 7th October 2016 on allegations of corruption and economic crimes was outside the statutory functions of the 1st defendant and therefore ultra vires and unlawful.
  5. A DECLARATION that the search of the residences of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder by the staff of the 1st defendant on 7th October 2016 without search warrants or properly issued search warrants and at night, and their arrests without warrants, were unlawful and constituted breach of their rights to personal liberty, privacy, family life and presumption of innocence.
  6. A DECLARATION that the search of the residences and arrest of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder on 7th October 2016 by the staff of the 1st Defendant without prior recourse to, and authorization of, the National Judicial Council was ultra vires, and constituted an unwarranted encroachment by the defendants on the independence and integrity of the judiciary, which are guaranteed under section 6 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 26 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
  7. A DECLARATION that the arrest, charge and purported arraignment of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder or any judicial officer by the 1st defendant before the Magistrate Court of the Federal Capital Territory or any court whatsoever were ultra vires and unlawful.
  8. AN ORDER directing the 1st defendant to forthwith cease, terminate, and withdraw any charge, information, arrest or invitation of any of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder or any other judicial officer on any matter relating to corruption or economic and financial crimes or any crime whatsoever.
  9. AN ODER of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st defendant from engaging in the arrest of any suspect for any crime in Nigeria unless it strictly relates to crime against the internal national security of the nation, namely, the crimes of treason and treasonable felony.
  10. AN ORDER of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st defendant from undertaking the prosecution of any offence whatsoever of any crime in Nigeria as prosecution of offences is not part of its statutory functions under the National Security Agencies Act or any other law in force in Nigeria.
  11. AN ORDER of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st and 2nd defendants, and through the 2nd defendant as the chief law officer of the federation, all other law enforcement agencies from arresting, inviting for arrest, searching the residences, charging, arraigning and/or prosecuting or otherwise dealing with any judicial officer of any of the courts mentioned in section 6(5) of the 1999 Constitution without first obtaining the authorization of the National Judicial Council.
  1. AN AWARD of N1 million Naira against the 1st defendant in favour of each of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder as general and exemplary damages on grounds stated in the particulars of damages hereunder.
The arrested judges and justices named in the schedule of the suit are:
  1. Hon Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
  2. Hon Justice Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
  3. Hon Justice Mohammed Ladan Tsamiya formerly of the Court of Appeal
  4. Hon Justice Innocent Umezurike OFR former Chief Judge of Enugu State
  5. Hon Justice Kabiru Auta former judge of High Court of Kano State
  6. Hon Justice Muazu Pindiga of High Court of Gombe State
  7. Hon Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court Abuja
  8. Hon Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court Abuja
The grounds postulated upon which the order for injunction is sought include:
  1. The defendants/respondents plan to charge, arraign, arrest and detain the said judicial officers despite the fact that in most of the cases, no complaint has been laid against the said judicial officers by the defendants to the NJC, the body constitutionally mandated to regulate and manage judicial officers.
  2. There is need to preserve the status quo ante until the substantive suit herein is determined.
  3. If the said judicial officers are charged to court before the determination of the originating summons, the crux of the entire substantive suit will be defeated and any judgment the plaintiff/applicant may obtain in its favour will be nugatory. If the said judicial officers are charged and arraigned in court, they will be subjected to undue intimidation, opprobrium, and further denied their right to presumption of innocence under section 36(5) of the Constitution (as amended). They will suffer great loss and damage that cannot be compensated, assuages or redeemed by monetary damages because their reputation as long servicing judicial officers would be jeopardized for no just case, by a body not constitutional mandated to disciple them.
  4. The balance of convenience is in favour of the plaintiff/application because the defendant/respondent will lose nothing if they are restrained from charging, arraigning, and in effect, tarnishing the image and good names of the judicial officers. The defendants can in any event go ahead with such charge or arraignment if at the end of hearing of the substantive summons it was found by this honourable court that the defendants indeed have the legal powers to arrest and arraign the said judicial officers without the authorization of the NJC. On the other hand, if the defendants/respondents go ahead to arraign the judicial officers before the suit is determined and it was later found that there was no legal authority for them to do so without authorization of the NJC as the plaintiff claimed in the originating summons herein, the judicial officers would have suffered irredeemable damage to their reputation, career and rights.
  5. The plaintiff/applicant has signed an undertaken and filed along with this application, to compensate the defendants/respondents should it be discovered at the end of the day that the injunction sought is frivolous.
No date has been fixed by the court.
Chino Obiagwu
National Coordinator & Lead Counsel, LEDAP

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