The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday struck out the suit filed against President Muhammadu Buhari and five others, challenging the October 8, 2016, arrest and detention of two Justices of the Supreme Court and four others by the operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS).
Joined as defendants along with President Buhari in the suit are the Director General of DSS, DSS, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The Plaintiff, an Abuja based lawyer and Human right activities, Olukoya Ogungbeje had dragged Buhari and four to court, challenging the legality of the arrest and detention of the judicial officers as well as confiscation of their properties including monies.
He prayed the court to declare the arrest and detention as unlawful, illegal and a breach of the fundamental rights of the judicial officers and also asked the court to award the sum of N50 billion in favour of the judges for the humiliation they suffered as a result of the arrest.
Besides, the plaintiff urged the court for an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the defendants, their agents and privies from further arresting, intimidating, harassing, inviting, humiliating, detaining, forceful invasion of the residential houses or disturbing the judicial officers in any unlawful manners.
The president and the AGF, filed a preliminary objection, challenging the locus standi of the plaintiff to institute the court action without the consent of the affected judicial officers.
The two defendants in the objection raised by their counsel, Habiba Chime, urged the court to strike out the plaintiff’s suit on the grounds that he did not disclose what he personally suffered by way of injury on the issue that brought about his suit.
Also, they told the court that the plaintiff’s action is malicious, frivolous, vexatious, lacking in merit and constituted and abuse of the civil process of the court.
Similar objection was also raised by the DSS and its DG, who also argued that the plaintiff lacked legal capacity to institute the case and urged the court to strike out the case with substantial cost.
In his judgment, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, agreed with the defendants that the plaintiff lacked locus standi to institute the court action on behalf of the judicial officers without their consent.
In the judgment read by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, Justice Kolawole, who has now been elevated to the court of appeal, said that the plaintiff was unable to persuade him that he has the locus standi to fight the battle of the affected judges, who are still alive and have no disability to approach the court to enforce their rights which the conduct of the DSS and its DG had breached by their arrest, detention and confiscation of their properties.
The judge however disagreed that the plaintiff was a busy bodied but a legal practitioner who is generally concerned of the Gestapo style deployed by DSS operatives without recourse to the NJC to assault the base of the independence of the judiciary as the 3rd arm of government by their actions of October 8, 2016.
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