The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has asked a federal high court in Abuja to dismiss a lawsuit filed against President-elect Bola Tinubu by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The PDP and Dino Melaye, a party leader, filed an order of mandamus to compel the NDLEA to apprehend and prosecute Bola Tinubu for alleged forfeiture of funds related to narcotics trafficking in the United States.
Joseph Sunday, director of prosecution for the NDLEA, stated in a preliminary objection filed on Wednesday that the application by the PDP and Melaye is “incompetent” and that the court lacks the authority to hear it.
The anti-drug agency stated that the opposition party’s lawsuit should be dismissed because it is “political in nature” and not in the best interests of Nigerians.
The NDLEA stated that the petition aimed to disqualify Tinubu as a legitimate presidential candidate in the February 25 election.
The agency argued that an order of mandamus is an equitable remedy that must be applied in good faith and must not generate an indirect or underlying effect.
The lawsuit states, “The doctrine of judicial self-restraint prohibits this honourable court from engaging in matters with political overtones or matters with direct or indirect political objectives.”
In an affidavit supporting the preliminary objection, Chia Depunn, a litigation officer attached to the NDLEA directorate of prosecution, stated that 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 involving the two nations.
“The NDLEA has a healthy relationship with the government of the United States of America, and the name of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, by whatever acronyms or combination of names, has never been mentioned in our communications with the U.S. government,” he said.
He stated that Tinubu “has not appeared on the agency’s radar or in its database as a person arrested, investigated, or prosecuted for drug or other related offences.”
“This lawsuit in its current form does not confer jurisdiction on the court. That the 1st Applicant lacks Locus Standi to file this lawsuit because it does not have an interest distinct from and superior to those of all other Nigerians, according to the affidavit.
“That the lawsuit is without merit, frivolous, and brought in bad faith for the sole purpose of achieving a political objective through the court system.” That the case’s specific facts and circumstances necessitate the court to apply the doctrine of judicial restraint.
“The Order of Mandamus must be utilised in good faith to advance the public interest. That the Order of Mandamus should not have a secondary or indirect effect.
That the lawsuit was not a criminal accusation or indictment. The standard of proof in civil forfeiture is the preponderance of the evidence. That in criminal indictments, charges, and proceedings, proof must be beyond a reasonable doubt. That the burden of proof is significantly greater in criminal procedure than in civil procedure.”
The NDLEA stated that the PDP’s application is “dead and legally untenable,” adding that the court should “dismiss this suit at great expense.”