Court Awards N 50m Damages For Sanusi, Restrains Police, SSS From Arresting Him!

A Federal High Court in Lagos, presided over by Justice Ibrahim Buba on Thursday restrained the Nigeria Police and the Department of State Services from arresting or harassing Malam Lamido Sanusi, the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The court also awarded the embattled Central Bank Governor N 50 million in exemplary damages and ordered that the Federal Government should offer a public apology to him.
While dismissing the preliminary objection raised by the Attorney General of the Federation, Justice Buba ruled that henceforth, Lamido Sanusi must not be arrested without due process. It will be recalled that Sanusi’s passport was seized on February 20, as he arrived theMurtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, hours after he was suspended as CBN Governor by President Goodluck Jonathan.
He filed suits in which he challenged his suspension, and asked for enforcement of his fundamental rights as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.
On February 21, the court granted an interim order, restraining the respondents from arresting, detaining, or harassing the applicant pending the determination of the substantive suit.
The interim order was sequel to an affidavit of urgency filed by the applicant on the same date.
On Monday, the court adjourned to April 4 ruling on the preliminary objection raised against the restraining order by the SSS and the police.
The court has now ruled, saying the government and its agencies have no basis to arrest or harass Malam Sanusi Lamido. The court also frowned at the seizure of the CBN Governor’s travelling documents.
During the hearing of the rights’ suit, on Monday, the respondents – the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF; the Police; and the SSS – made different claims.
The agency SSS said it was investigating Mr. Sanusi for allegedly financing terrorism.
The SSS counsel, Moses Idakwo, said Mr. Sanusi’s interaction with SSS officials did not last for up to an hour and did not constitute a violation of his rights.
He said the provisions of Section 6 of the National Security Agencies’ Act empowered the Service to impound the international passport of suspects pending the conclusion of investigations.
On Monday, however, Mr. Sanusi’s counsel, Kola Awodehin, accused the SSS of falsehood in its claim against his client as he said the agency had no shred of evidence.
The counsel to the AGF, Fabian Ajogwu, in his objection to the suit prayed the court to strike it out for lack of jurisdiction. He claimed that Section 254 (c) 1 (d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) ousted the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
He noted that the case before the court borders on the applicant’s employment, saying that labour -related cases are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Industrial Court, NIC.
“Section 254 (c) 1 (d) of the Constitution vests exclusive jurisdiction on the National Industrial Court, with respect to civil causes or matters touching on employment, labour or industrial relations.
“We respectfully urge the court to hold that it has no jurisdiction to entertain the reliefs sought by the applicant,” he said.
Ajogwu also argued that the applicant should not try to use the suit as a means of restraining the respondents from performing their constitutional duties.
He argued that Mr. Sanusi was being investigated based on the FRCN’s claims and that he was being investigated in accordance with the provisions of the law, which the respondents had a statutory duty to perform.
While the AGF said Mr. Sanusi was being investigated based on the FRCN investigations, the police said it was not investigating the suspended Governor.
David Abuo, counsel to the Nigerian Police said nobody ever reported Sanusi to the police.
He however agreed with Ajogwu’s submission saying the case should be struck out as it seeks to bar government agencies from performing their duties.
In response to the preliminary objections of the defendants however, Kola Awodehin submitted that the court was vested with the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
He argued that the suit had nothing to do with the terms of employment of the applicant or industrial relations, since it was not a case of the applicant against the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He argued that the applicant never sought an order of perpetual injunction, adding that the reliefs he sought were qualified.
“It cannot be suggested that the applicant is restraining the respondents from performing their duties, but they must be restrained from doing so without due process of the law.
“The seizure of the applicant’s international passport by the third respondent is a derogation of his freedom of movement. The first to third respondents give conflicting reasons as to the complaint made against the applicant. This conflict goes to show that they acted without due process of the law.”
“The allegation against the applicant as to funding of terrorism is an afterthought by the respondents which is not backed by facts, as there is no reasonable suspicion that the applicant committed any crime,” he said.

Author: NewsAdmin

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