Mr. Olukoya Ogungbeje, a Nigerian lawyer has begun legal moves to scuttle the trial of allegedly corrupt judges. But the move is being vigorously challenged by the Federal Government.
On Tuesday, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), on Tuesday, raised questions on Ogungbeje’s legal attempt to stop the prosecution of five judges accused of fraud.
Ogungbeje on Oct. 28 approached a Federal High Court in Abuja through an ex-parte application, seeking an order to restrain further action against the judges.
The applicant asked the court to stop President Muhammadu Buhari, the Department of State Services (DSS) and others from re-arresting or taking any “untoward action” against the five judges.
However, delivering a bench ruling, Justice Gabriel Kolawole of Federal High Court, Abuja, held that the motion was shrouded with complexities.
He said that a number of issues, including the locus standi of the plaintiff, would have to be concluded before any vital pronouncement could be made on the prayer.
He also said that the applicant should put the respondents on notice by effecting service on them.
The plaintiff had sought an order of interim injunction restraining the respondents and their agents from further arresting, intimidating and arraigning the judges pending the determination of the suit.
The plaintiff had filed the ex parte application following his apprehension that the judges could soon be arraigned in court.
The Federal Government had already filed criminal charges against Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court and Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court.
President Buhari, Director-General of the DSS, the Attorney-General of the Federation, and the Inspector-General of Police are the respondents.
The other respondent in the suit is the National Judicial Council.
However, Mr Chiesonu Okpopo, counsel to the President had raised three grounds of objection to the suit.
These are contained in a notice of preliminary objection dated Nov. 3 and brought pursuant to Section 6 (6) (a) and (b) of the 1999 constitution.
Okpopo averred that the applicant did not disclose his locus standi to initiate and maintain the suit.
He also said that there was no dispute pending between the applicant and the respondents in the suit.
“The applicant’s suit as constituted and conceived is a mere academic exercise,” he said.
The President and the AGF, who are the 1st and 4th respondents respectively, accompanied the preliminary objection with a written address, with a sole issue for the court’s determination.
They had asked the court to decide whether the applicant has the locus standi to initiate and maintain the suit.
“My Lord, it is our humble submission that a calm perusal of the affidavit in support of the applicant’s originating motion, shows clearly that he did not disclose any personal injury he suffered by the act complained of,” the respondents said.
NAN reports that the respondents attached copies of the Search Warrant which authorised the DSS to raid the homes of the judicial officers.
Consequently, they urged the court to decline the plaintiff’s prayer.
The judge adjourned hearing in the suit until Dec. 14.