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Why we can’t arrest, prosecute Tinubu, says NDLEA

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, has filed a preliminary objection to a suit instituted by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and a chieftain of the opposition party, Senator Dino Melaye, seeking an order of mandamus to compel the anti-narcotics agency to arrest and prosecute the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, over alleged forfeiture of some funds in his bank accounts over two decades ago in the United States.

In its notice of preliminary objection signed and filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday by its Director of Prosecution and Legal Services, Joseph Nbona Sunday, NDLEA submitted that the application by the PDP, which is the 1st applicant, with Melaye as 2nd, is incompetent, adding that the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain it and, as such, should be struck out.

Listing its grounds for the objection, the NDLEA said both PDP and Dino Melaye “do not have a locus standi, they do not possess an interest peculiar to them and above the interests of all other Nigerians, adding that the investigation and prosecution of Tinubu were targeted at removing him as a bona-fide candidate in the February 25, 2023, presidential election.

The agency argued: “Order of mandamus is an equitable remedy and should only be applied for 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.”

While noting that the foundation of the PDP application was the proceeding of the US District Court of the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division in the US, it said “the judgment in the said proceeding was given with prejudice, adding that “the said proceedings and judgment have no judicial value”, and as such “the supposed cause of action of this suit as constituted is baseless and legally unsustainable.”

In a sworn affidavit in support of the NDLEA’s preliminary objection, a litigation officer attached to its Directorate of Prosecution and Legal Services, Chia Cosmas Depunn, said that
as an independent agency of government saddled with the responsibility to investigate, arrest and prosecute persons involved in drug trafficking and other related offences in Nigeria, the agency has a healthy relationship with the government of the United States, saying the name of Tinubu “by whatever acronyms or combination of names has never featured in the exchanges we had with the United States of America.”

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