A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr
The suit, with file number FHC/ABJ/CS/809/16, was instituted against the President, the Department of State Services (DSS), and its Director-General (DG), Lawal Daura, among others for violating the rights of the judges.
On October 8 and 9, the DSS operatives had ransacked the houses of seven judges of the Supreme, Appeal and High courts and arrested them on allegations of corruption.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, and the National Judicial Council (NJC), are co-defendants in the suit filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja, on October 14.
Ogungbeje, who said the judges' arrest without recourse to the NJC was unlawful and amounted to humiliating them, noted that the DSS operations violated the rights of judges under sections 33, 34, 35, 36, and 41 of the Constitution.
He sought 10 prayers, among which is an order awarding N50bn against the defendants as "general and exemplary damages".
Ogungbeje also demanded to be awarded N2 million as the cost of the suit.
Other prayers sought by the Plaintiff include an order compelling the DSS to return to the judges the sums of money recovered from them and perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from arresting, inviting, intimidating, or harassing the judges with respect to the case.
"The 1st (President Buhari), 2nd (DG of DSS), 3rd (DSS), 4th (AGF), and 5th (Inspector-General of Police) respondents against there is no petition by the affected to the 6th respondent (NJC)," a 39-paragraph affidavit he deposed to support the suit read.
"That the 6th respondent is the only body empowered by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to discipline judges and judicial officers in Nigeria.
"That the judiciary is an independent arm of government in Nigeria and separate from the executive and the legislature.
"That this illegal and unconstitutional action by the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th respondents have been roundly condemned by the Nigerian Bar Association.
"That the 2nd (DG of DSS), 3rd (DSS), and 5th (IGP) respondents carried out their action which brazenly infringed upon the rights of the affected five judges without lawful excuse or recourse to the 6th respondent," the affidavit stated.
The arrested judges include Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and John Okoro of the Supreme Court; Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja, and Justice Muazu Pindiga of the Federal High Court, Gombe Division.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba’s residence was also searched but was shielded from being arrested by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
Others who had been placed on suspension by the NJC before their arrest include a former Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice I. A. Umezulike, the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division, Justice Mohammed Tsamiya; and judge of the Kano State High Court, Justice Kabiru Auta.