A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday restrained the Nigeria Police, the Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service; Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and other security agencies from arresting a chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party in Ogun State, Buruji Kashamu.
The aborted arrest was sequel to a petition by a group known as ‘Concerned Citizens of Ogun State’, who alleged, among others, that Kashamu had been declared a fugitive in the United States of America.
Justice Okon Abang, while delivering judgment on the suit instituted by Kashamu with respect to the allegations, held that going by the facts before him, there was no evidence that the applicant committed any of the offences mentioned in “the ill-motivated” petition.
The judge added that his restraining the police is an exception to the principle that they could not be restrained from carrying out their constitutional responsibility.
Kasahamu had instituted the suit for the enforcement of his fundamental rights to personal liberty following the petition written by ‘Concerned Citizens of Ogun State’.
The group had allegedly claimed in the petition that Kashamu was being investigated by the US FBI for crimes, including, narcotic smuggling and that he had been declared a fugitive by a US Federal High Court after a grand jury in the US allegedly indicted him.
Justice Abang also awarded the sum of N50,000 against former Ogun State Governor, Gbenga Daniels, who was joined as the sixth defendant in the suit.
Kashamu claimed in the suit that his political opponents allegedly led by Daniel had written the petition “in a maliciously contrived attempt to breach the applicant’s fundamental right to liberty and freedom of association.”
Through his suit, Kashamu had sought a declaration that the allegations contained in the petition dated December 18, 2009, to the police, SSS, Customs and NDLEA was false.
The applicant stated in the suit that the allegations were subject of previous investigation by the International Police and litigation in competent courts, which, according to him, exonerated him.
Abang held in his judgment that since there was no evidence backing the allegations, failure to restrain the security agencies from arresting or prosecuting the applicant could lead to the violation of his rights.
He held, “I think that the court can restrain the first to fifth defendants from acting on the petition which may lead to the violation of the applicant’s fundamental rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement.
“The findings made in this case are based on peculiar facts and circumstances. This is case where the court will have expected the sixth respondent (Daniel) to come forward and prove the allegations made by him against the applicant. But this is not the case.”