A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, has sentenced the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba to three-month imprisonment for disobeying a past court order.
The court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice M. O. Olajuwon, held that the IGP should be committed to prison and detained in custody for a period of three months, or until he obeys an order it made since October 21, 2011.
The IGP’s committal followed a suit that was filed by a police officer, Mr. Patrick Okoli, who was unlawfully and compulsorily retired from the Nigerian Police Force.
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.”
“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,” Olajuwon said.
According to her, court orders are not to be obeyed at the whims and caprices of the respondent and the rule of law is only supreme when parties, no matter the status, obey the court order.
“The terms of the Orders of this Court are clear and unambiguous,” she maintained.
The court had also ordered the payment of N10million to the Applicant, being special and general damages for the unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional denial of his rights and privileges as a Senior Officer of the Nigeria Police Force from 1993 till date.
Meanwhile, the Force Spokesperson, Olumuyiwa Adejobi affirmed that the Police would soon respond to the verdict.
“We will respond soon. It’s a matter between 1993 and 2011, when the incumbent IGP, Usman Baba, was not yet in office,” he said.
The court judgement reads, “This court has bent backward over and over again for the respondent.”
“This Court even ordered that the Assistant Chief Registrar (Litigation) write to the respondent to inform him of the pendency of this matter, which he did and the proof of receipt of same in the office of the respondent is before this court.”
“it is unfortunate that the chief enforcer of the law is one who has deliberately refused to comply with the same law.”
“It is important to state that obedience to orders of the court is fundamental to the good order, peace and stability of a nation.”
“It is a duty which every citizen, who believes in peace and stability of the Nigerian state, owes the nation and the court has a duty to commit the individual who has failed to carry out the order of the court for contempt, so as to prevent the authority and administration of law from being brought to disrespect and to protect the dignity of the court.”
“This court is satisfied that the respondent (presently and those before him) has had proper knowledge of the Orders of this Court, there is no denial of such knowledge and the receipt of Forms 48 and 49.”
“The respondent filed a counter affidavit and was duly represented in court by different counsel, who stated how they had written several legal opinions which were not attended to.”
“The refusal and failure of the respondent to comply with the orders of this court have been proved in this case.”
“The respondent, in this case, the Inspector General of Police, in the person of Usman Alkali Baba, is to be committed to prison and detained in custody for a period of three months or until he has obeyed the order of this court, made on the 21st October 2011, in all things that are to be performed, whichever period is shorter.”
“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 until he purges his contempt.”