Contempt: IGP Seeks Legal Advice On Imprisonment Order

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Usman Baba, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), has instructed the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Force Legal Unit to provide him with competent legal counsel regarding the Federal High Court of Abuja’s sentencing of three months in prison for “disobeying a court order.”

The IGP was ordered to be sent to prison and held in custody for a period of three months by Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon. The police chief announced this in a statement written by the force’s public relations officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, yesterday.

The court’s decision came as a result of a lawsuit brought by Patrick Okoli, a former police officer, who claimed he was forcibly and illegally retired from the Nigeria Police Force in June 1992.

A Federal High Court in Abuja was said to have ordered the reinstatement of Okoli in a judgement on October 21, 2011 but the office of the IGP was said not to have complied.

However, in a statement on behalf of the IGP on Tuesday, Adejobi said the police boss did not disregard court order or the 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”.

“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 judgement 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 statement read.

Adejobi also said the IGP will continue to uphold the rule of law and synergise with the judiciary to ensure quick dispensation of justice for an improved criminal justice system.

Earlier in November, Justice Chizoba Oji of a High Court Abuja convicted the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa for contempt and ordered that he should be committed to prison at Kuje Correctional Centre, Abuja.

The judge held that Bawa was in contempt of the order of the court made on November 21, 2018, directing the commission to return to an applicant, his Range Rover and the sum of N40 million.

However, Justice Oji in a subsequent ruling set aside the conviction of Bawa after hearing an application brought by the EFCC chairman.

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