The National Industrial Court in Abuja has threatened to jail the Inspector General of Police, Alkali Baba Usman, over his persistent disobedience to order of the court.
The reaction of the court followed a suit instituted by four senior-rank police officers from courses 33, 34, and 35 who were compulsorily and unlawfully retired from police service.
The affected officers who sued the IGP on behalf of themselves and other affected members of Course 33, 34, and 35 are chief superintendents of Police, Egong Egwu Egong, Omeh Felix Okechukwu. Paul Obot Umoh and Superintendent of Police, Galadima Bello who
In the suit marked NICN/ABJ/21/M/2023 argued by Edwin Okoro on behalf of the retired police officers, the court had nullified the premature retirement of the senior police officers numbering about 20 and ordered the IGP and the Police Service Commission to immediately reinstate them.
However, the police boss and the Force Secretary who are the key defendants in the legal action were said to have bluntly refused to comply with the reinstatement order of the court.
The legal advice of the legal department of the Force Headquarters advising the IGP to comply with the order of the court was also said to have been rebuffed prompting Edwin Okoro, counsel to the aggrieved plaintiffs, to report the violation of the court order by IGP to the Industrial Court for remedy.
In an enrolled order issued by the court and endorsed by Justice Oyebiola Oyewumi, the court gave the IGP May 2 to appear before it and purge himself of contempt of court or be committed to prison in line with the provisions of the law.
The court held that the action of the IGP undermines the rule of law and is unbecoming of a senior official of the Federal Government official and an affront to the 1999 Constitution.
Justice Oyewumi in the enrolled order said that the IGP, no matter his rank, was not above the law and would be made to respect the law when he acts as someone above the law.
Justice Oyewumi in the enrolled order held that “it is evidently clear that the respondents, the Inspector General of Police and the Force Secretary have flouted the order of this court made on February 27, 2023, to appear before the court to show course why they should not be held in contempt of this court for their flagrant disobedience to the decision of the court even when their legal department had issued legal advice urging the IGP to comply with the decision of the court.
“It has become the attitude of government officials which include Nigeria Police Force to persistently flout or disobey orders of the court as if they are living outside of this nation or above the provision of the 1999 Constitution which operates as a guide to curb action and Inactions of the State in the country and it’s operators.
“The same Constitution has given courts in this clime, including this court, the inherent power to enforce the constitutional provisions ditto rule of law, against authorities and the people in the State called Nigeria.”
Rejecting the excuse by the defendants as lacking in merit and verbose, the Judge rebuked the possibility of the country becoming a Banana Island stating that “ a situation where the courts are degraded by disobedience to their orders would engender danger to the rule of law and God forbid that this clime will become like the proverbial Banana Republic.
“God forbid that and I say that again. It is in view of that that I discountenance the excuse, except the reason put forth respecting the Inspector General of Police. I emphatically disregard the excuse respecting the Force Secretary, Assistant Inspector General of Police Hafiz Inuwa.
“It is in view of this that before I proceed to hold them in contempt of this court, I give both the Inspector General of Police Usman Alkali Baba, and the Force Secretary, Assistant Inspector General of Police AIG, Hafiz Inuwa, the second chance of appearing before this court to show cause why this court should not proceed to find them guilty of being in contempt of this court.”
Justice Oyewumi thereafter fixed May 2, 2023, for the IGP and the force secretary to appear before the court.