The Inspector General of Police has just been sentenced to three months imprisonment for contempt of court. His refusal to obey a court order made by the Federal High Court has earned him three months imprisonment according to trending report from the Federal High Court.
We in the Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) hereby applauds the justice system for this courageous decision which symbolizes that nobody is above the law. The Judiciary has exercised lawfully the judicial authority conferred on it by section (6) subsection (1) of the 1999 constitution.
This order of the Federal High Court must be obeyed with immediate effect- meaning that the IGP should surrender himself with his prison bag straight to the correctional center in Kuje. He should not treat this court order with ignominy or contempt.
We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to personally supervise the surrender of the IGP to the Federal Correctional Center, Kuje without any waste of time. Anything outside of strict compliance to this court order will mean that Nigeria has become a banana republic.
HURIWA recalled that the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, sentenced the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to three months in prison for flouting a 2011 court order.
The IGP’s committal followed a suit that was filed by a police officer, Patrick Okoli, who was unlawfully and compulsorily retired from the Nigerian Police Force.
The court also ordered the payment of N10 million to the applicant, being special and general damages for the unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional denial of his (Patrick’s) rights and privileges as a Senior Officer of the Nigeria Police Force from 1993 till date.
The media reports cited by HURIWA stated that the court in a ruling that was delivered by Justice M. O. Olajuwon, held that the police chief should be committed to prison and detained in custody for a period of three months, or until his office obeys an order made by the court since October 21, 2011.
Olajuwon noted that though the Police Service Commission recommended Okoli’s reinstatement into the NPF, a decision that was affirmed by the court, the IGP’s office, refused to comply with the order.
Olajuwon said, “If at the end of the three months, the contemnor remains recalcitrant and still refuses to purge his contempt, he shall be committed for another period and until he purges his contempt.”
HURIWA recalled that the Force spokesperson, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said that the police would soon respond to the verdict.
He said, “We will respond soon. It’s a matter between 1993 and 2011, when the incumbent IGP, Usman Baba, was not yet in office.”
HURIWA however faulted the assertion of the spokesperson of the Police on tje ground that the office of the IGP is statutory just as the Rights group said lawfully made court order if persistently breached by the Office of the IGP even if the holder of the office at the time of the genesis of the matter is no longer important because the office of the IGP is consistently occupied by officers meaning that if one IGP goes and the current occupant refuses to comply with a binding court order, he is nor to be excused on the nebulous ground that he did not originate the breach of the court’s order. HURIWA is therefore counselling the IGP to obey before complaining by complying with the judgment or get a stay of execution order quickly.
*Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko,
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).
November 29th 2022.