Obey before complaint, HURIWA tells IGP, as police boss gets three-month jail
Police not aware of order on reinstatement of dismissed officer, says spokesman
Rights group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), yesterday, said a Federal High Court order committing Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, to a three-month imprisonment must be obeyed with immediate effect.
It called on the IGP to surrender himself straightaway to the correctional centre in Kuje and not treat the order with contempt.
“We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to personally supervise the surrender of the IGP to the Federal Correctional Centre, Kuje, without any waste of time. Anything outside of strict compliance to this order will mean Nigeria has become a banana republic.
“HURIWA is, therefore, counselling the IGP to obey before complaining, by complying with the judgment or getting a stay of execution order quickly.,” it noted.
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja committed Baba to the three-month imprisonment over alleged refusal to obey a sister court judgment reinstating a police officer, Patrick Okoli, who was compulsorily retired.
The court, in a ruling on contempt proceedings brought by Okoli’s lawyer, Arinze Egbo, also cautioned Baba against non-compliance with the earlier court judgment.
Justice Olajuwon warned that if the IGP fails to purge himself of the contempt, he would be liable to another three-month jail term. Okoli, in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/637/2009 had sued the IGP as a sole respondent in the matter.
The plaintiff, who prayed the court to order his reinstatement, said he was unlawfully retired in 1992 by the Police Council, currently known as Police Service Commission (PSC), while serving in Bauchi State Command as a Chief Superintendent of Police, among others. He said his compulsory retirement, under Decree 17 of 1984, was illegal.
Justice Okorowo, in a judgment delivered on October 21, 2011, gave an order of mandamus compelling the respondent (IGP) to do his duty according to law.
He directed the IGP to comply with the orders of the PSC, as contained in its letter of May 5, 2009 (with Ref. No. PSC/CSP/01/11/295A), directing him to reinstate Okoli and present for recommendation of the commission, the IGP’s recommendation for promotion of the applicant from 2013 till date, among others.
However, following non-compliance with the judgment, Okoli’s counsel filed Forms 48 and 49, supported by affidavit before Justice Olajuwon, praying the court to convict and sentence the IGP for failure to obey the court judgment delivered by Justice Okorowo.
Delivering the ruling, Justice Olajuwon said: “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, to prevent the authority and administration of law from being brought to disrespect and protect the dignity of the court.”
BUT the police high command said, yesterday, that it was not aware of any court order during the current IGP’s tenure. Police spokesman, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi, said: “The Nigeria Police Force wishes to state emphatically that the office of the IGP, Usman Alkali Baba, did not disregard 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.
“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 Inspector General of Police 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.”