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Sanusi financing terrorism, FG, SSS tell court

Mallam Lamido Sanusi

The Federal Government and State Security Service have accused the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Lamido Sanusi, of financing terrorism.

They made the allegation in their counter-affidavits before a Federal High Court opposing a suit instituted by Sanusi, who is seeking a perpetual injunction to restrain the SSS and the police from arresting him.

Sanusi’s lawyer, Mr. Kola Awodein, who raised the allegation in open court on Monday, denied it, describing it as an afterthought which government came up with after seizing his clients passport.

He said, “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 allegations against the applicant as to funding of terrorism, is an afterthought by the respondent, which is not backed by facts, as there is no reasonable suspicion that the applicant committed any crime.

“The law clearly defines how such duties should be performed, and so, I invite your lordship to hold that the applicant has a cause of action against the respondent.”

Government had seized Sanusi’s passport after it suspended him as CBN governor in March. Following that, he had instituted the suit to restrain the security agencies from further arresting or harassing him.

The Attorney-General of the Federation, represented by Dr. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), and Mr David Abuo and Mr. Moses Idakwo, representing the police and the SSS respectively asked the court on Monday to dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction.

The AGF, the Inspector-General of Police and the SSS are the first to third respondent respectively.

The AGF’s counsel, Ajogwu, argued that the applicant could not by his suit, seek to restrain the respondents from performing their constitutional and statutory duties.

Ajogwu said, “My Lord, this suit is speculative, hypocritical  and an attempt to shield the applicant from the machinery of the administration of justice, which the Federal Government has kick-started.

“My lord, we respectfully submit that the applicant is not entitled to a grant of perpetual injunction, restraining the respondents from performing their constitutional duties.”

Ajogwu, while moving his preliminary objection to the suit,  argued that the suit bordered on employment and such the provisions of section 254 (c) 1 (d) of the 1999 Constitution had vested jurisdiction to entertain such suit on the National Industrial Court.

“Section 254 (c) 1 (d) of the Constitution vest 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 sort by the applicant, and strike out the suit,” he said

He also quoted Justice Niki Tiki Tobi (a retired Justice of the Supreme Court) as saying, “A court cannot grant perpetual injunction on a mere prima facie case; the applicant’s suit is basically an action to shield him from the machinery of administration of justice, which has been kick-started by the respondents.”

“I therefore, urge your lordship, like the Biblical Pontius Pilate, to wash his hands off this case, as it is not the affairs of this honourable court,” he said.

Abuo and Idakwo, also associated themselves with Ajogwu’s submissions.

But Idakwo added  that it was absurd for the applicant to argue that an interaction with the SSS for less than an hour, amounted to a violation of his rights.

He maintained that 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.

He therefore urged the court to strike out the applicant’s suit.

But Awodein said it was untrue that his client was trying to prevent the security agencies from performing their duties.

He said, “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 allegations against the applicant as to funding of terrorism, is an after thought by the respondent, which is not backed by facts, as there is no reasonable suspicion that the applicant committed any crime.

“The law clearly defines how such duties should be performed, and so, I invite your lordship to hold that the applicant has a cause of action against the respondent.

He maintained that that the court was clearly vested with jurisdiction to hear the suit.

He insisted that the suit had nothing to do with the terms of employment of the applicant or industrial relation as submitted by Ajogwu.

He argued that the applicant in his originating summons, never sought for an order of perpetual injunction, adding that the reliefs sought were qualified.

He urged the court to dismiss the preliminary objection of the respondent, and uphold the case of the applicant.

Justice Ibrahim Buba after taking parties’ argument adjourned ruling till April 3.

The court had on February 21, granted an interim order of injunction, restraining the respondents from arresting, detaining, or harassing the applicant, pending the determination of the motion on notice.

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