BY INNOCENT ANABA
LAGOS — A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, restrained the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar and the Department of State Services, DSS, from arresting a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Ogun State, Prince Buruji Kashamu on the basis of a petition written against him.
Justice Okong Abang, the trial judge, also restrained the Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service; Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, and former Ogun State governor, Mr. Gbenga Daniel from prosecuting the applicants.
The court awarded N50,000 as cost against Daniel.
Kashamu, had in the suit, prayed the court to declare that the allegations contained in a petition dated December 18, 2009, by a group – “Concerned Citizens of Ogun State” – to the police, DSS, Customs and NDLEA were false.
In the petition, the group alleged that Kashamu was under the United States, FBI, investigation bordering on criminality, narcotic smuggling, among others; was indicted by a grand jury and was declared a fugitive by a US Federal High Court.
Kashamu had argued that the said allegations were subject of previous investigation by the International Police (Interpol) and litigation in competent courts, which exonerated him, adding that they were “rehashed” by his political opponents allegedly led by Daniel “in a maliciously contrived attempt to breach the applicant’s fundamental right to liberty and freedom of association.”
Justice Abang in his judgment, 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.
“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 court added that his restraining the police was an exception to the principle that the force cannot be restrained from carrying out its constitutional responsibility.
“The findings made in this case are based on peculiar facts and circumstances. This is a 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.
“Upon being served with the court processes, the sixth respondent only briefed a counsel that appeared in court once and later abandoned the proceeding. I think the suit of the applicant deserves to succeed,” the court said.
Kashamu had claimed that the allegations were a campaign of calumny against him to create the impression that he is a criminal, adding that the petition was actuated by malice.