A pressure group, the Incorporated Trustees of Laws and Rights Awareness Initiative, has sued the Lagos State Attorney-General Adeniji Kazeem for stopping the trial of two Indians, Messrs Deepak Khilnan and Sushil Chandra, for alleged $8.8m fraud.
Lagos State had in 2015 charged Khilnani, a chartered accountant, along with Chandra, for allegedly defrauding Gree Fuels Limited of $8,776, 862.
The Attorney-General, on July 13, filed a nolle prosequi in the case, leading to protests by some lawyers.
But the group, made up of 28 lawyers led by Olayinka Olu-Daniels, in its originating summon, is contending that the Attorney-General acted ultra vires and against the constitution.
In a motion filed on September 11 by their counsel, Olumide Babalola, the claimant sought an injunction to restrain the defendant and his officers from further exercising the powers given under Section 211 (1) (C) of the Constitution unless and until they are able to satisfy the court that such exercise is in the public interest, interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process as provided under Section 211 (3) of the Constitution.
It asked for a declaration that the exercise of the defendant’s power of nolle prosequi under Section 211 (1) (C) of the Constitution cannot be activated in the absence of any formal explanation by the defendant to the court.
According to the group, such explanation ought to satisfy the requirement of public interest, interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process as provided under Section 211 (3) of Constitution and
It sought “a declaration that the exercise of the defendant’s prayer is not, under Section 211 (1), (2), subject to the defendant’s discretion, whims and caprices”.
The claimant therefore urged the court to determine “whether or not by the interpretation and construction of Section 211 (1), (2) and (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the defendant can validly exercise his powers of nolle prosequi thereunder without regard for the public interest, the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process”.
The plaintiff wants the court to hold “that the exercise of the defendant’s power of nolle prosequi was not exercised in the interest of the public, justice and it in itself constituted an abuse of court process in violation of Section 211 of the Constitution;” and that the claimant is entitled to relief sought if the issues raised for determination of the court are resolved in its favour.
The plaintiff sought two reliefs from the court.
“A declaration that the defendant cannot validly exercise his powers under Section 211 (1) (c) of the Constitution, except in the public interest, in the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process;
“A declaration that public interest, the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process as stipulated under Section 211 (3) of the Constitution are the basic considerations to be satisfied by the defendant before exercising his powers under section 211 (1) (c).”
In an affidavit deposed to in support of the originating summon by Daniel John Daniel, the plaintiff averred that the defendant, by a letter dated April 30, 2015, through the office of the Director Public Prosecution (DPP) issued a legal advice indicting the two Indians and recommended them for prosecution.
It stated that based on the legal advice, the suspects were charged before a Lagos High Court in suit number ID/1544/2015 by the state government.
The deponent averred further that members of the claimant named in the motion, led by Olayinka Ola-Daniels and numbering about 28 legal practitioners, appeared before the court as amicus curiae on July 13 when the suit was about to be struck out and expressed reservation on the unconstitutionality of the notice of discontinuance.
The claimant, therefore, prayed the court for a definite pronouncement on the questions distilled for determination as it will help strengthen social justice, constitutional governance, federalism, the rule of law and due process of the laws of the country.
It contended that it would be in the interest of democracy, justice, rule of law and the people of the state to grant the reliefs sought.