The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has asked a federal high court in Abuja to dismiss a suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against President-elect Bola Tinubu.
The PDP and Dino Melaye, a chieftain of the party, had filed an order of mandamus to compel the NDLEA to arrest and prosecute Tinubu over an alleged forfeiture of funds relating to narcotics trafficking in the US.
In a preliminary objection filed on Wednesday, Joseph Sunday, director of prosecution of the NDLEA, said the application by the PDP and Melaye is “incompetent” and that the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain it.
The anti-narcotics agency said the suit by the opposition party should be struck out because it is “political in nature”, adding that it is not in the interest of Nigerians.
The NDLEA said it was targeted at removing Tinubu as a bonafide candidate in the February 25, 2023 presidential election.
The agency argued that an order of mandamus is 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,” the suit reads.
‘LEGALLY UNSUSTAINABLE’ APPLICATION
In an affidavit supporting the preliminary objection, Chia Depunn, a litigation officer attached to the NDLEA directorate of prosecution, said the agency has a “healthy relationship” with the US government, and that Tinubu’s name has “never featured in the exchanges” in a drug case between the two countries.
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“The NDLEA has a healthy relationship with the government of the United States of America, the name of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu by whatever acronyms or combination of names has never featured in the exchanges we had with the United States of America,” he said.
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”.
“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,” the affidavit reads.
“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 is “dead and legally unsustainable”, adding that the court should “dismiss this suit with substantial cost”.