A Federal High Court in Lagos has restrained the Nigeria Police and the Department of State Services from arresting or harassing the suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, ordered the DSS to release Lamido Sanusi’s passport and award him N50m in exemplary damages.
Sanusi’s passport was seized on February 20 when he arrived at the Lagos international airport, hours after he had been suspended by President Goodluck Jonathan over allegations of “financial recklessness”.
The CBN ex-governor, in separate suits, challenged his suspension and asked the court to restrain the police and the SSS from arresting, detaining or otherwise harassing him in the end of February.
During the hearing of the rights’ suit on March 31, Monday, the respondents – the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) the Police, and the SSS – made different claims.
The agency SSS accused Sanusi of financing terrorism, which the ex-governor denied.
The SSS counsel, Moses Idakwo, said Sanusi’s interaction with SSS officials lasted less than an hour and did not constitute a violation of his rights.
He also said that the provisions of Section 6 of the National Security Agencies’ Act empowered the SSS to impound the international passport of suspects pending the conclusion of investigations.
It is not clear how this fresh allegation by the SSS is related to the dubious claims by Reno Omokri, the Special Assistant to the president.
A journalist investigation had exposed how Omokri, using a non-existent alias, Wendell Simlin, created a document linking Sanusi with financing the terrorist Boko Haram group.
Sanusi’s counsel, Kola Awodehin, accused the SSS of falsehood in its new claim against the bank chief, saying the agency had no shred of evidence.
The counsel to the AGF, Fabian Ajogwu, had objected to the suit, urging the court to strike it out for want of jurisdiction.
He noted that the case before the court borders on the applicant’s employment, saying that labour-related cases are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Industrial Court, NIC.
Ajogwu also argued that the applicant should not, by the suit, seek to restrain the respondents from performing their constitutional duties. Sanusi was being investigated based on the FRCN investigations, he added.
In turn, the police said it was not investigating the former CBN chief at all. The counsel to the police, David Abuo, said nobody ever reported Sanusi to the police.
He, however supported Ajogwu’s claim that the case should be struck out as, he said, it seeks to bar government agencies from performing their duties.
Sanusi’s counsel Awodehin, however, opposed this argument saying that the court was vested with the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
He argued that the suit had nothing to do with the terms of employment of the applicant or industrial relations, since it was not a case of the applicant against the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Awodehin also argued that the different submissions by the three respondents showed that laws were being violated in Sanusi’s treatment.
It will be recalled that Sanusi was suspended by Jonathan over allegations of misconduct of the Central Bank. The former CBN governor, however, rejected the claims against him, insisting he was removed for revealing corruption in Nigeria.
Simpa Saint Samsons
CEO, S.O.S21 Pictures International, Inc