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Court Orders Release Of Suspended Central Bank Governor's Passport ***Awards N50m Damages To Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

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The Nigeria Police and the Department of State Services (DSS) have been restrained by a Federal High Court in Lagos from arresting or harassing suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

The court also ordered the DSS to release Sanusi’s passport and award him N50m in exemplary damages.

Sanusi’s passport was seized on February 20 when he arrived at the Lagos international airport, hours after he had been suspended by President Goodluck Jonathan over allegations of “financial recklessness”.

The CBN ex-governor, in separate suits, challenged his suspension and asked  the court to restrain the police and the SSS from arresting, detaining or otherwise harassing him.

During the hearing of the rights’ suit on March 31, Monday, the respondents – the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, the Police, and the SSS – made different claims.

The agency SSS accused Sanusi of financing terrorism, which the ex-governor denied.

The SSS counsel, Moses Idakwo, said Sanusi’s interaction with SSS officials lasted less than an hour and did not constitute a violation of his rights.

He also said that the provisions of Section 6 of the National Security Agencies’ Act empowered the SSS to impound the international passport of suspects pending the conclusion of investigations.

It is not clear how this fresh allegation by the SSS is related to the dubious claims by Reno Omokri, the Special Assistant to the president.

A journalist investigation had exposed how Omokri, using a non-existent alias, Wendell Simlin, created a document linking Sanusi with financing the terrorist Boko Haram group.

The document was later shown to have been created by Omokri, with several Nigerians calling for his sack. The presidency has kept mum since the scandal was exposed.

On Monday, however, Sanusi’s counsel, Kola Awodehin, accused the SSS of falsehood in its new claim against the bank chief, saying the agency had no shred of evidence.

The counsel to the AGF, Fabian Ajogwu, had objected to the suit, urging the court to strike it out for want of jurisdiction.

He argued that the provisions of Section 254 (c) 1 (d) of the 1999 Constitution ousted the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

He noted that the case before the court borders on the applicant’s employment, saying that labour-related cases are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Industrial Court, NIC.

The counsel urged the court to strike out the suit.

Ajogwu also argued that the applicant should not, by the suit, seek to restrain the respondents from performing their constitutional duties.

He argued that Sanusi was being investigated based on the FRCN’s claims. He said the suspended bank chief was being investigated in accordance with the provisions of the law, which the respondents had a statutory duty to perform.

Citing the dictum of retired Justice Niki Tobi of the Supreme Court in the case of Adeniran vs Alao, Ajogwu submitted that a perpetual injunction would be everlasting and could not be granted by a court of law.

While the AGF said Sanusi was being investigated based on the FRCN investigations, the police said it was not investigating the CBN ex-governor.

The counsel to the police, David Abuo, said nobody ever reported Sanusi to the police.

He however aligned with Ajogwu, saying the case should be struck out as it seeks to bar government agencies from performing their duties.

However, responding to the respondents’ preliminary objection, counsel Awodehin submitted that the court was vested with the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

He argued that the suit had nothing to do with the terms of employment of the applicant or industrial relations, since it was not a case of the applicant against the Central Bank of Nigeria.

He argued that the applicant never sought an order of perpetual injunction, adding that the reliefs he sought were qualified.

Awodehin also argued that the different submissions by the three respondents showed that laws were being violated in Sanusi’s treatment.

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