Lawyer files N50b suit against Buhari, DSS, others over judges’ arrest
EMU leader, Nwankwo urges President to resign
A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje, has filed a N50 billion suit before the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, against President Muhammadu Buhari, the Department of State Services (DSS), its Director-General, Lawal Daura, and others over alleged violation of judges’ rights.
Other defendants in the suit No. FHC/ABJ CS/809/16, filed on October 14, include the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and the National Judicial Council (NJC).
Ogungbeje, in the suit, alleged that the arrest of the judges without recourse to the NJC was unlawful and amounted to humiliation of the affected persons.
He added that the DSS operations violated the rights of judges under sections 33, 34, 35, 36 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution.
The plaintiff has sought 10 prayers, among which is an order awarding N50 billion against the defendants as general and exemplary damages.
He also asked the court to award additional N2 million as the cost of the suit, to issue an order compelling the DSS to return to the judges the said sums of money recovered from them and to grant a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from arresting, inviting, intimidating or harassing the judges with respect to the case.
In another development, an elder statesman and Chairman, Eastern Mandate Union (EMU, Dr. Arthur Agwuncha Nwankwo, has called for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari from office.
He said the clampdown on the nation’s judiciary on “the pretext of fighting corruption” was the last death knell on Nigeria’s coffin.
In a statement he issued in Enugu at the weekend, Nwankwo said: “Much as I do not and have never encouraged corruption, I have always stated that neither Buhari nor those around him possess the physical or intellectual capacity to drive the change needed in Nigeria. I agree that the judiciary, like every other sector in Nigeria, is a victim of corruption. There are specified procedures to deal with this type of issue; but to simply wake up and order the arrest of serving judges is the height of official recklessness and corruption.
“Muhammadu Buhari must understand that the judiciary is not a parastatal of the Federal Government. It is an independent arm of government. The Federal Government must, as a matter of urgency, refrain from this assault on the judiciary and save Nigeria the agony of the looming doom.”
Justifying his call for the resignation of President from office, Nwankwo, who said he had listened and read reports suggesting that it was “corruption” and not judiciary that was on trial, stressing that no matter how the action was rationalised, it does not retract from the truth that the sanctuary of justice had been desecrated.
“Is it now that Muhammadu Buhari realised that the judiciary is corrupt? During his first sojourn as a military dictator, Buhari set up special military tribunals; handpicked judges and instructed them on what to do.”