Journalism of Courage

Federal High Court convicts IGP, Usman Baba, sends him to prison for contempt

The IGP was sentenced as a result of a case filed by a police officer, CSP Patrick Okoli, who was unlawfully and compulsorily retired from the Nigerian Police Force in 1992 based on Decree No. 17 of 1984 which had been abolished.

By Samuel Akpan

Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon of a Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday convicted Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, and ordered him to be imprisoned for just three months for violating a legitimate court order.

The IGP was sentenced as a result of a case filed by a police officer, CSP Patrick Okoli, who was unlawfully and compulsorily retired from the Nigerian Police Force in 1992 based on Decree No. 17 of 1984 which had been abolished.

Persecondnews reports that the court ordered the payment of N10 million to the applicant, Okolie, who served in Bauchi State Police Command as a Chief Superintendent of Police, as special and general damages for the unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional impairment of the applicant’s rights and privileges as a senior officer of the Nigeria Police Force from 1993 till date.

The judge said: “This court even ordered that the Assistant Chief Registrar (Litigation) 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.

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“It is important to state that obedience to orders of the 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.

“The terms of the Orders of this court are clear and unambiguous. This court is satisfied that the respondent (presently and those before him) has had proper knowledge of the Orders of this Court, there is no denial of such knowledge and the receipt of Forms 48 and 49.

“The respondent filed a counter affidavit and was duly represented in court by different counsel, who stated how they had written several legal opinions which were not attended to. The refusal and failure of the respondent to comply with the orders of this court have been proved in this case.”

On IGP’s committal to prison, the judge ruled: “The respondent, in this case, the Inspector General of Police, in the person of Usman Alkali Baba, is to be committed to prison and detained in custody for a period of three months or until he has obeyed the order of this court, made on the 21st October 2011, in all things that are to be performed, whichever period is shorter.

“If at the end of the three months, the contemnor remains recalcitrant and still refuses to purge his contempt, he shall be committed for another period until he purges his contempt.”

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