Contempt: Court vacates order sentencing IGP to 3 months in prison

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A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday, vacated its ruling that convicted and sentenced the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Usman Alkali Baba, to three months in prison for contempt.

Trial judge, Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon had in the ruling she delivered on November 29, held that the IGP should be committed to prison and detained in custody for a period of three months or until he obeyed an order the court made since October 21, 2011.

The IGP’s committal followed a suit by a police officer, Mr. Patrick  Okoli, who was unlawfully and compulsorily retired from the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, in 1992.

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However, at the resumed proceedings in the matter, yesterday, Justice Olajuwon vacated the committal order on the premise that evidence before her indicated that the IGP has substantially complied with the earlier order the court made for Mr. Okoli to be reinstated.

She held that in view of the development, the court was minded to give a sympathetic consideration to an application the IGP filed to set aside his conviction and sentence.

“In view of the substantial compliance with the order of the court and the assurance of ensuring full compliance, the order commuting the applicant, IGP, Usman Alkali Baba, is hereby set aside,” Justice Olajuwon held.

The judge had before she ordered the committal of the IGP to prison, noted that the court had in another judgment that was delivered on October 21, 2011, by Justice Donatus Okorowo, which ordered the IGP to comply with a directive from the PSC, which okayed Okoli’s reinstatement.

Meanwhile, the IGP, in a counter-affidavit he filed before the court, argued that the PSC was responsible for the promotion and reinstatement of any police officer, adding that remuneration of such officer, was the responsibility of the Federal Government through the CBN and the Accountant General of the Federation.

He told the court that the service-file of the applicant could not be traced in the Police database, a situation he said prevented him from recommending the Applicant for promotion.

The IGP said he did not disobey the order of court as the applicant has not attended the Mandatory Management Course, which would enable him to be promoted to the management rank.

His argument was dismissed by the court, which maintained that he must comply with the judgment that ordered Okoli’s reinstatement.

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