* I Wasn’t Aware of Court Order, Says Baba
A Federal High Court in Abuja has convicted Inspector General of Police (IGP) Usman Baba and sentenced him to a three-month jail term for failing to obey a judgment reinstating Patrick Okoli, who was compulsorily retired as a police officer.
In a ruling yesterday, Justice Bolaji Olajuwon ordered that should the IGP fail to comply with the judgment and purge himself of the act of contempt, he would be liable to a further term of three months’ imprisonment.
Justice Olajuwon held that the IGP, who was aware of the 2011 judgment, did not deny having knowledge of the orders contained in the judgment.
The judge also held that the IGP blatantly refused to carry out the orders of the court, as contained in the judgment.
He added: “This court has bent backwards over and over again for the respondent (the IGP).
“This court even ordered the Assistant Chief Registrar (Litigation) to 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 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,” she said.
Justice Olajuwon held that court orders are not to be obeyed at the whims and caprices of the respondent as the rule of law is only supreme when parties, no matter their status, obey the court order.
The ruling was on a committal proceedings initiated by Okoli to enforce the court’s judgment given in October 2011.
Okoli had sued to challenge his compulsory retired in 1992 by the Police Council (now Police Service Commission, PSC) while serving in the Bauchi State Command as a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP).
The Police Council claimed to have acted under Decree 17 of 1984, a decision Okoli challenged.
But Baba has denied knowledge of the court order for which he was convicted for contempt.
A statement yesterday in Abuja by the Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), said: “The Nigeria Police Force wishes to state emphatically that the office of IGP Usman Alkali Baba did not disregard a court order or rule of law as the office is not aware of any court order, during the current IGP’s tenure, with respect to a matter making the round in the media that the IGP disobeyed a court order for the reinstatement of a dismissed officer of the Force.
tenure, with respect to a matter making the round in the media that the IGP disobeyed a court order for the reinstatement of a dismissed officer of the Force.
“It is instructive to note that the case in point concerns an officer who was dismissed as far back as 1992, a few years after the current IGP joined the Nigeria Police Force, based on available facts gleaned from the reports. The most recent judgment on the matter was given in 2011, which should ordinarily not fall under the direct purview of the current administration of the Force. Thus, the news is strange and astonishing.
“The IGP has, however, directed the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Force Legal Unit to investigate the allegation in a bid to ascertain the position of the court and proffer informed legal advice for the IGP’s prompt and necessary action.
“The IGP reiterates his commitment to upholding the rule of law and synergising with the Judiciary to ensure quick dispensation of justice for an improved criminal justice system.”
The Nation online