The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has asked Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos to withdraw himself from a fresh suit filed by Senator Buruji Kashamu.
Kashamu, in the new suit, is seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the NDLEA and the Attorney General of the Federation from seizing his property.
The new suit came after the failed effort by the NDLEA to extradite Kashamu to the United States of America, where he is said to be wanted for alleged drug-trafficking offences.
Justice Buba had, on June 23, 2015, reaffirmed a May 27, 2015 order of Justice Okon Abang of the same court restraining the NDLEA and others from extraditing Kashamu.
In the new suit, Kashamu said he had got winds of the moves by the NDLEA and the AGF to seize or take over his properties, including a 24-flat housing estate at Egbe and several hectares of land on Lekki Peninsular, Lagos, worth over N20bn.
He claimed to have acquired the properties by dint of hard work and legitimate business as opposed to the respondents’ allegation that the properties were acquired with proceeds of drug-trafficking.
His lawyer, Mr. Ajibola Oluyede, claimed that allowing the respondents to seize Kashamu’s property would occasion a breach of his fundamental right to own property as provided under section 43 and 44 of the Constitution.
Already Justice Buba had, by an interim injunction dated June 29, 2015, restrained the respondents and their privies from interfering with Kashamu’s right to own property either in Nigeria or anywhere else, pending the determination of the main suit.
But at the resumed proceedings on Tuesday, the NDLEA appeared in court with an application seeking to discharge the interim injunction.
The NDLEA’s lawyer, Mr. J. N. Sunday, claimed that the interim injunction was granted against public policy, adding that it amounted to tying the hands of Federal Government agencies from discharging their legitimate mandate.
The anti-narcotics agency also asked Buba to disqualify himself from the case, saying it was afraid that since Buba had adjudicated over Kashamu’s previous case and given judgment, it might be impossible for him to reach a different conclusion in the fresh case, which stemmed from the earlier case.
On his own part, counsel for the AGF, Mr. Oyin Koleosho, in a preliminary objection, challenged the court’s jurisdiction to hear Kashamu’s suit.
The counsel, who described Kashamu’s new suit as a “tortuous act,” which is not within Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution, said the judge had no jurisdiction to entertain matters bordering on landed property title.
Describing the suit as an abuse of court processes, Kolesoho urged Justice Buba to strike out the suit for failing to disclose any reasonable cause of action.
Justice Buba adjourned the case till September 30, 2015 to enable the parties to regularise their processes.
From The Punch