After two years of litigation, the Court of Appeal has affirmed the judgment of Justice Anwuri Chikere of a Federal High Court, Abuja, for the arrest and imprisonment of the Director-General of Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), Dr Alex Okoh over the Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON).
The Appeal Court found Alex Okoh and the BPE deficient in their appeal, and in want of empirical evidence to prove their case, and thereby upheld the judgment.
Persecondnews recalls that on December 17, 2019, an order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, was made for the arrest and imprisonment of Okoh over ALSCON, and the subsequent stay of execution order by the Federal Court of Appeal on the request of the embattled DG.
Specifically, Alex Okoh, Director General of the BPE is to be remanded in prison for thirty days for his repeated and calculated effort to impugn the integrity of the Supreme Court by flagrantly disobeying the unanimous decision of the Apex court since 2012.
While the BFI Group has continuously and repeatedly shown its belief in the rule of law and Nigerian judicial system, by taking all its grievances before the court as stipulated by law, the BPE under Alex Okoh has repeatedly shown its disdain and complete disregard for the rule of law by failing to obey a simple, direct, unambiguous but very unanimous judgment of the Supreme Court since 2012.
This calculated attempt of the BPE necessitated the decision of the BFI Group, a Nigerian-American consortium, and winner of the bid for ALSCON to approach the Federal High Court, even after securing a Supreme court judgment over six years earlier, to explain why an agency of government can be so powerful to the extent of flagrantly disobeying and disregarding the judgment of the nation’s Supreme Court.
The High Court, after intensive hearings, ordered that the DG, Alex Okoh be remanded in prison custody until his flagrant and consistent disobedience of the Apex Court judgment is sufficiently explained, or at best obeyed.
Okoh and the BPE had approached the Court of Appeal to stay the execution of the High Court’s judgment.
Speaking with newsmen on the judgment, the President of BFI Group, High Chief (Dr) Reuben Jaja noted:“This statement means finality for us, because the Appeals Court judgment basically validates all the issues that were in question.
“This means finality, it means ALSCON can move forward, it means Nigeria can finally put this strategic asset into use, it means our industrialization policy, particularly in the Niger-Delta region will now commence.
“Like I said, this judgment of the Appeal Court indicates finality to the long legal tussle. It would basically ensure that both parties understand that there is a limitation to legal tussle, and let us focus on helping our country to move forward.
“This is our administration, this government is serious with rehabilitating and refocusing the economy, and those of us who are in the private sector, and are positioned and willing to assist this government move forward must be given a chance to support not just this government but the country in general.’’
“This judgment has rekindled my confidence in my country, particularly the judiciary. The judiciary looked at the matters and left all the rhetoric and issues that aren’t vital to the assessment of the truth and facts and merits of the case so the judgment has given me a strong confidence as a businessman.
“Also it has reassured international investors who may be thinking of coming into Nigeria, that the Legal system is strong and bold enough to take action on any case whether it involves the government or private sector, and take decisions that are based on fairness, equity and fair play.
“This is a signal not only to domestic captains of industry, but also to industrialists in the international community, who had interest in our nation,’’ he said in a statement by Yemie Adeoye, the Media Adviser to the President, BFIG, Houston Texas, USA, and given to Persecondnews.
Jaja added: “However, for civil servants who are privileged to be saddled with the responsibility of managing or directing the affairs of our most strategic public agencies in this country, I would appeal to them to be patriotic citizens and place their nation first, and above all things.
“Think first of what you can use that privileged position to do for your country and not what your country can do for you, according to President JF Kennedy.
“This is serious because your legacy must be quoted by succeeding generations. We must leave something of value for the future because our children will be competing with the children from other nations around the globe. We must not by our actions or inactions today, put them at a disadvantage in the future.”