A civic group has petitioned the National Judicial Council, NJC, to investigate Mohammed Yunusa, a judge of the Federal High Court, Lagos with a history of granting perpetual injunction restraining the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, from investigating suspects in corruption cases.
The petition follows a review of the judgements and judicial pronouncements of judges across the country carried out by non-governmental organization, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, HEDA.
According to the petition dated December 21, 2015 and signed by Olarenwaju Suraju, the Chairman of the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, CSNAC, CSNAC, Mr. Yunusa is in the habit of granting “arbitrary injunction to Political Exposed Persons (PEPs) and other accused persons against the law enforcements agency.”
According to CSNAC, the latest of such injunctions by Mr. Yunusa, which disregarded legal precedents by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, was delivered on October 30, 2015 in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1471/2015 between Simon John Adonmene & 3 others versus EFCC.
The applicant (Mr Adonmene), sought the following from the court:
• A Declaration that the Respondent whether by itself, staff, agents, employees, servants, officers and men under its supervision, direction and/or control is not entitled to howsoever invite, interrogate, intimidate, harass, arrest, detain, arraign, restrict the movement of the 1st Applicant and other officers of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Applicants without lawful justification.
• An Order of Mandatory injunction restraining the Respondent by itself, staff, agents, employees, servants, officers and men from howsoever inviting, interrogating, detaining, harassing, intimidating, arresting, arraigning, and/or further inviting, detaining, harassing, intimidating, arresting, and/or declaring the 1st Applicant and /or any of the directors, staff, officers and agents of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Applicants as wanted persons.
• An Order of perpetual injunction restraining the Respondent, by itself, staff, agents, employees, servants, officers, and men from howsoever freezing, confiscating, depriving and/or further freezing, confiscating, depriving the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Applicants of access to, possession of and use of their assets and the funds in their account Nos 1018826127, 0020593842, 1771258695 and 1013983247 maintained with United Bank for Africa Plc., Sterling Bank Plc., Skye bank Plc. and Zenith Bank Plc. respectively.
• A declaration that the Respondent and/or any of its staff, agents, employees, servants, officers, and men under its supervision, direction, and/or control is not entitled to and/or authorized by law to issue any directive(s) to any/all banks in Nigeria, in particular, United Bank for Africa Plc., Sterling Bank Plc., Skye Bank Plc., and Zenith bank Plc., to freeze the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Applicants’ account Nos 1018826127, 0020593842, 1771258695 and 1013983247 maintained with the said banks and/or howsoever continue to freeze the said accounts, without the leave of a court of competent jurisdiction.
CSNAC said Mr. Yunusa granted all the above prayers of the applicant which effectively means EFCC has been perpetually restrained from investigating the applicants.
According to CSNAC Mr Yunusa’s ruling is an aberration as the Supreme Court had ruled in several cases that the granting of perpetual injunctions against law enforcement agencies is a violation of their constitutional powers to investigate and prosecute those suspected to have been involved in criminal acts.
“In Kalu v FRN (2014) 1 NWLR (pt. 1389) 526 Para D-H, the court held that interference with powers given to law officers by the constitution to carry out criminal investigations cannot be departed from by court injunctions. Also in Alhaji Sani Dododo v EFCC (2013) 1 NWLR (pt. 1336) 510 Para A-C, the Court of Appeal held per Nwodo JCA as follows:
“The EFCC Act and the ICPC Act are enactments towards achieving the goal of abolishing corruption. The drive to abolish corrupt practices by established enactment and statutory provisions must not be extinguished in construction of the statutes. The intendment of the legislation must be conveyed and its provisions complied too.”
Describing Mr Yunusa’s action as a “gross abuse of his powers as a judicial officer, the organization argued that by granting the perpetual injunction, Mr Yunusa has stripped the EFCC of its constitutional powers and the power vested upon it by the Economic and Financial Crimes (Establishment) Act, LFN 2004, a Federal Legislation.
According to CSNAC, the review also showed that Mr Yunusa had granted similar questionable injunctions in favour of other PEPs being investigated for corruption by law enforcement agencies.
Some of such cases, according to the group, are:
1. Suit No. FHC/L/CS/487/14 – FRN v. Michael Adenuga
2. Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1342/15 – Senator Stella Odua v. AG Federation, EFCC, ICPC and IGP.
3. Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1285/15 – Jyde Adelakun & Anor v. Chairman EFCC & Anor.
4. Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1445/15 – Dr. Martins Oluwafemi Thomas v. EFCC
5. Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1269/15 – Honourable Shamsudeen Abogu v. EFCC & Ors.
6. Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1012/15 – Hon. Teeth Dauzia Loya v. EFCC
“These decisions, based on his Lordship’s refusal to abide by judicial precedents laid down by the apex court, will undoubtedly serve as a leeway for unscrupulous and corrupt individuals, who will stop at nothing to truncate their arrest, investigation and prosecution by the appropriate law enforcement agencies, to render our criminal law ineffective, as well as allowing corruption fester in the society.
“In the light of the above, CSNAC is therefore by this petition requesting that the council carries out its constitutional role by immediately summoning Honourable Justice M. N. Yunusa on this matter and thereby ensuring that sanity is restored in the exercise of powers by judicial officers,” the petitioner said.
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