By Uche Amunike
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), has given reasons why they neither arrested nor prosecuted the Nigerian President-elect, Bola Tinubu over a suit initiated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a governorship candidate of the party in Kogi state, Senator Dino Melaye, seeking an order of mandamus to force the anti-narcotics agency to arrest and prosecute him.
After the suit initiated by the PDP and Melaye, mandating the anti-drug agency to arrest and prosecute Bola Tinubu over allegedly forfeiting some funds in his bank accounts in the United States over two decades ago, the NDLEA filed a preliminary objection at the Federal High Court in Abuja, Wednesday, by its Director of Prosecution and Legal Services, Joseph Nbona Sunday, stating that the application by the PDP, which is the 1st applicant and Dino Melaye as 2nd applicant, is incompetent as the court lacks the jurisdiction to attend to it and so, should be dismissed.
Part of the reasons cited by the NDLEA for their objection was that both the PDP and Dino Melaye did not have the locus standi, nor did they have an interest peculiar to them and above the interests of Nigerians at large. They maintained that the reason for investigating and prosecuting Tinubu was merely targeted at removing him as a bonafide presidential candidate in the February 25th 2023 election.
The NDLEA stated: ‘Order of mandamus is an equitable remedy and should only be applied for in good faith and should not produce an indirect or underlying result. The Doctrine of Judicial Self-restraint precludes this Honorable Court from delving into matters with political coloration or matters aimed at getting direct or indirect political goals.’
‘While noting that the foundation of the PDP application was the proceeding of the US District Court of the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division in the US, it said “the judgment in the said proceeding was given with prejudice, adding that “the said proceedings and judgment have no judicial value”, and as such “the supposed cause of action of this suit as constituted is baseless and legally unsustainable.’
A litigation officer attached to the NDLEA’s Directorate of Prosecution and Legal Services, Chia Cosmas Depunn, filed a sworn affidavit supporting the anti-narcotics agency, where it stated that as an independent agency of government that was responsible for investigating, arresting and prosecuting people involved in drug trafficking and other such offences in the country, the agency maintained a good relationship with the United States government. He further stated that the name, Tinubu, ‘by whatever acronyms or combination of names has never featured in the exchanges we had with the United States of America.’
Depunn also noted that even though the NDLEA works with intelligence and information from foreign and domestic partners and public spirited individuals, both the PDP and Melaye have never made or forwarded any complaints, information or intelligence on Bola Tinubu or any other person concerning drug related matters, either in or outside the country, until January 17.