Arrested Judges: Group Drags DSS, AGF to Court

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• Wants court to bar prosecution of arrested judges
• Seeks prohibition of ‘sting operations’
• Asks DSS to restrict operations to ‘internal security’
A civil society organisation, Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to declare as unlawful the raid and arrest of judges by the Department of State Services (DSS).
LEDAP also seeking an order of injunction barring the planned charge and arraignment of some of the arrested judges.

In a suit brought against the DSS and Attorney-General of the Federation, the group argued that the judges cannot be charged and arraigned in court without the authorisation of the National Judicial Council (NJC).

In a motion on notice for interlocutory injunction filed at the Federal High Court Abuja yesterday, LEDAP sought “an order restraining the respondents (DSS and AGF) from filing any charge in court or arraigning before any court or arresting and/or detaining, inviting for questioning or searching the office or residence of any of the judicial officers unless with the authorisation and referral of the National Judicial Council (NJC) pending the hearing and determination of the originating summons filed in this suit.”

In the originating summons filed along with the motion for injunction, the group is seeking the following orders:
• A declaration that the statutory functions of the 1st defendant is the prevention and detection of crime against the internal security of Nigeria, and the protection and preservation of non-military classified matters concerning internal security of Nigeria.

• A declaration that the 1st defendant is not authorised under its enabling law, namely, the National Security Agencies Act or any other law in force to engage in the investigation and prosecution of corruption, economic, or financial crimes in any form or manner, or in the investigation and prosecution of any crime whatsoever against any criminal suspect in Nigeria.

• A declaration that the statutory functions of the 1st defendant is to collect intelligence information on crimes against internal security and non-military classified matters concerning internal security of Nigeria and to pass such information to the appropriate agency authorized by law to investigate and prosecute such crimes, namely, the Nigerian Police Force created under the Police Act, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission created under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, the Independent Corrupt Practices  and Other Related Offences Commission created under the ICPC Act, the National Agency on the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons created under the National Agency on the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons Act, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency created under the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act; and in matters concerning serving judicial officers of any of the courts mentioned in section 6(5) of the 1999 Constitution, to the NJC established under section 153(1)(i) of the 1999 Constitution and authorized under section 158 (1) and paragraphs 20 and 21 of Part 1 Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution to exclusively deal with matters relating to judicial officers.

• A declaration that the raiding and search of residences of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder by the staff of the 1st defendant in the night of  October 7, 2016 on allegations of corruption and economic crimes was outside the statutory functions of the 1st defendant and therefore ultra vires and unlawful.

• A declaration that the search of the residences of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder by the staff of the 1st defendant on  October 7, 2016 without search warrants or properly issued search warrants and at night, and their arrests without warrants, were unlawful and constituted breach of their rights to personal liberty, privacy, family life and presumption of innocence.

• A declaration that the search of the residences and arrest of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder on October 7, 2016 by the staff of the 1st Defendant without prior recourse to, and authorisation of, the NJC was ultra vires, and constituted an unwarranted encroachment by the defendants on the independence and integrity of the judiciary, which are guaranteed under section 6 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 26 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.

• A declaration that the arrest, charge and purported arraignment of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder or any judicial officer by the 1st defendant before the Magistrate Court of the Federal Capital Territory or any court whatsoever were ultra vires and unlawful.

• An order directing the 1st defendant to forthwith cease, terminate, and withdraw any charge, information, arrest or invitation of any of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder or any other judicial officer on any matter relating to corruption or economic and financial crimes or any crime whatsoever.

• An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st defendant from engaging in the arrest of any suspect for any crime in Nigeria unless it strictly relates to crime against the internal national security of the nation, namely, the crimes of treason and treasonable felony.

• An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st defendant from undertaking the prosecution of any offence whatsoever of any crime in Nigeria as prosecution of offences is not part of its statutory functions under the National Security Agencies Act or any other law in force in Nigeria.

• An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st and 2nd defendants, and through the 2nddefendant as the chief law officer of the federation, all other law enforcement agencies from arresting, inviting for arrest, searching the residences, charging, arraigning and/or prosecuting or otherwise dealing with any judicial officer of any of the courts mentioned in section 6(5) of the 1999 Constitution without first obtaining the authorisation of the NJC.

• An award of N1 million against the 1st defendant in favour of each of the judicial officers listed in the schedule hereunder as general and exemplary damages on grounds stated in the particulars of damages hereunder.