As part of measures to avoid serving a three months jail terms, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, has directed the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Force Legal Unit to proffer informed legal advice to him on the order of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja that sentenced him for disobedience.
The order of the court followed a suit filed by a former police officer, Patrick Okoli who claimed he was unlawfully and compulsorily retired from the Nigeria Police Force in June 1992.
A Federal High Court in Abuja was said to have ordered the reinstatement of Okoli in a judgement on October 21, 2011 but the office of the IGP was said not to have complied.
The court also ordered the payment of N10 million to the applicant, being special and general damages for the unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional denial of his (Patrick’s) rights and privileges as a Senior Officer of the Nigeria Police Force from 1993 till date.
The court in a ruling that was delivered by Justice M. O. Olajuwon, held that the police chief should be committed to prison and detained in custody for a period of three months, or until his office obeys an order made by the court since October 21, 2011.
Olajuwon noted that though the Police Service Commission recommended Okoli’s reinstatement into the NPF, a decision that was affirmed by the court, the IGP’s office, refused to comply with the order.
The judge said, “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 and until he purges his contempt.”
The ongoing consultations by the police boss was confirmed through a statement released by the Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi hours after Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon issued the order that the IGP be committed to prison and detained in custody for a period of three months.
Adejobi said the police boss did not disregard court order or the rule of law as “the office is not aware of any Court Order, during the current IGP’s tenure, with respect to a matter making the round in the media that the IGP disobeyed a Court Order for the reinstatement of a dismissed officer of the Force”.
“It is instructive to note that the case in point 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 judgement on the matter was given in 2011 which should ordinarily not fall under the direct purview of the current administration of the Force. Thus, the news is strange and astonishing.
“The IGP has however 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,” the statement read.
Adejobi also said the IGP will continue to uphold the rule of law and synergise with the judiciary to ensure quick dispensation of justice for an improved criminal justice system.