Who Can Arrest And Take Inspector-General Of Police To Prison?

Yesterday, Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon of the Federal High Court, Abuja sentenced the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Usman Alkali Baba to three months imprisonment for disobeying a valid court order.

Justice Olajuwon was ruling in a suit filed by Patrick Okoli, a former police officer who claimed he was unlawfully and compulsorily retired from the Nigerian Police Force. The Judge held that the IGP should be committed to prison and detained in custody for a period of three months, or until he obeys an order of the court made on October 21, 2011.

The IGP is not the only top government official to be found in contempt of the court in recent times.

Recall that earlier this month, Justice Chizoba Orji of a High Court of the same Federal Capital Territory, convicted the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, for contempt of court in relation to his agency’s failure to comply with an earlier order of the court.

Justice Orji held that, “the Chairman Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is in contempt of the orders of this honourable court made on November 21st 2018 directing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abuja to return to the applicant his Range Rover (Super charge) and the sum of N40, 000,000.00 (Forty Million Naira).  “Having continued willfully in disobedience to the order of this court, he should be committed to prison at Kuje Correctional Centre for his disobedience, and continued disobedience of the said order of court made on November 21st 2018, until he purges himself of the contempt”.

In that judgment, Justice Orji told the Inspector-General of Police to ensure that the order of the honourable court is executed forthwith, i.e. that the EFCC Chairman is taken to Kuje prison to serve the sentence. That order, as we all know, did not come to pass.

Yesterday’s sentence will almost be seen as comic because it is the same IGP that is expected to ensure that he himself is taken to jail for contempt.

Who in this case is expected to carry out the judge’s order, since the main man is the subject? Which policeman can arrest his IG and take him to prison? As we say in local parlance, “Who born monkey?”

So are these contempt judgments jokes, since they cannot be carried out?

The Inspector-General has responded to the court order same yesterday, saying the Police is not aware of court order on the reinstatement of the dismissed officer, and insisting that he as IGP would never disregard court ruling or rule of law.

In a statement, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the Force Public Relations Officer, noted that the current case, “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”.

The IGP is said to have now 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.

I am not sure what is expected to happen now, since the court order is in place. Does the IGP have the right to be investigating a matter but has not started serving the three-month jail term? Does he need to appeal while his people are investigating? Is this period not another contempt of court order? But the biggest question is, “WHO CAN ARREST THE INSPECTOR-GENERAL AND TAKE HIM TO PRISON?”

The suit as filed by Okoli, the sacked police officer in 2009, with the IGP as sole respondent prayed the court to order his reinstatement, on the ground that, he was unlawfully retired in 1992 by the Police Council, presently known as Police Service Commission, PSC, while serving in Bauchi State Command as a chief Superintendent of police.

He said his compulsory retirement, under Decree 17 of 1984, was illegal and Justice Donatus Okorowo, in a judgment delivered on October 21, 2011, directed the IGP to comply with the orders of the PSC, as contained in their letter of 5th May 2009, directing him to reinstate Okoli into the Nigeria Police Force and to present for the recommendation of the commission, the IGP’s recommendation for the promotion of the applicant from 2013 to date.

Justice Olajuwon, who for the records is a woman, was very emphatic in committing the IGP yesterday. Hear her:

“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 the court is fundamental to the good order, peace and stability of a nation. It is a duty which every citizen, who believes in the 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,” she said.

She said court orders are not to be obeyed at the whims and caprices of the respondent and the rule of law is only supreme when parties, no matter the status, obey the court order, adding that, “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 refusal and failure of the respondent to comply with the orders of this court have been proved in this case. 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. 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.”

Very strong words from Justice Olajuwon. However, judging from our experience in obeying court orders and judgments, they may just be words for the record. Let us be proved right.



One Comment on “Who Can Arrest And Take Inspector-General Of Police To Prison?”

  1. There are a lot of grey areas in this IGP story Epa.

    It is trite that agents of law enforcement in Nigeria are the most visible ambassadors of law breaking in Nigeria.

    This Buhari/Osibajo junta has succeeded in sustaining these truth:

    The judiciary is not an arm of government but the armpit of the executive which is one of 2 arms of government in Nigeria

    Laws in Nigeria only crush the powerless and exalt the powerful.

    When the foundation of a country is faulty, what can the righteous lintels do?

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