Contempt: Obey court order or risk protest, HURIWA tells IGP

Sun, Dec 4, 2022
By editor


PROMINENT civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Saturday, warned that the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba must obey the order of Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon of the Federal High Court, Abuja which committed him to three months in prison for contempt. It said anything other than that makes a joke of the global image of Nigeria. 

HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, said the IGP will attract a large-scale protest if he fails to submit himself at the gates of the prison where he was sentenced to by the judge.

The group said the police boss acted in disobedience to a lawful order and must comply or get a stay of execution, adding that an appeal is not a stay of execution.

Recall that the court in Abuja on Tuesday, 29th November 2022, committed the IGP to prison for failure to obey an order to reinstate a police officer, Patrick Okoli who was unlawfully and compulsorily retired from the Nigeria Police Force about 30 years ago.

But Baba argued before the court that the orders should be set aside because he had not been appointed into office as Inspector-General of Police when the case was instituted and the reinstatement order in question granted.

He also claimed that steps had been taken by his predecessors toward complying with the reinstatement of Okoli and that his predecessors wrote to the Police Service Commission in 2015 for the reinstatement of Okoli and his promotion.

HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The argument of IGP Usman Baba is dead on arrival and is not a defence at all for the Nigeria Police Force and the Police Service Commission not to do what is right by complying with the order of the court to reinstate the wrongfully dismissed police officer.

“If assuming and not conceding that his predecessors did write the PSC in 2015, what has Baba done on the case since assumed office on April 6, 2021? Baba should not shift any blame in this matter; he has acted is in gross disobedience of a lawful order and must comply or get of stay of execution or risk public protest by us soon even if it is a one man protest to get him to comply because an appeal is not a stay of execution.

“Security agents or law enforcement agents must learn to uphold the law and not be the chief violators! The leaders of these law enforcement agencies must also learn to lead well by obeying court orders and not act rascally as is commonplace to most of them.

“This power-drunkenness explains why in a space of weeks, different courts have sentenced the IGP, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Faruk Yahaya and the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa to prison for the singular offence of contempt. It all goes to show that the Northern Moslems-dominated heads of security agencies have no regard for the rule of law. Where then does the hope of the common man lies if the court is so flagrantly disobeyed by these bigwigs of security agencies? The courts should not take it lightly but to follow the matter to the latter to set a warning precedents to trigger-happy and crime-loving security agents. Also, the IGP needs to know that appealing an order does not operate as a stay of execution.”