IGP, AGF risks contempt charge over alleged disregard to court order

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Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Monday ordered that the warrant of release issued in favour of two Nigerians detained by Police since October 5 be served on the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Alkali Baba Usman, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami and four others.

The Judge had on November 5, 2021, ordered the IGP, the AGF, Joseph Egbunike (DIG) and the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), Abuja to immediately release Jude Osuhor and Happiness Chekube Edifie who have been in detention at the FICID, Abuja since October 5 this year.

Justice Ekwo’s order of Monday for fresh service of the earlier order on the IGP and AGF was occasioned by a complaint by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, MrJibrin Okutepa (SAN), lawyer to Jude Osuhor and Happiness Efifie, that the police have refused to obey the court order.

Okutepa, who sounded bitter, complained to the court that the IGP and other respondents in the fundamental rights enforcement suits by his clients had been served with the court’s November 5 release order, but that they have disregarded the order.

He said although the case was adjourned for hearing, the respondents refused to obey the court’s order to release the two detainees and also refused to appear in court.

“The order of this court was served on the respondents since November 5, the IGP has refused to release them. We have applied for From 48 to initiate a contempt charge against him and commit him to prison.

“I don’t know why the IGP and DIG, would turn themselves into Executive sabotage of court order.

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“I want to apply for the court to order the IGP to come here and show cause why he should not be sent to prison for disobeying a court order.”

In a short ruling, Justice Ekwo said he would rather allow the IGP and other respondents to obey the court’s order and come to defend the case pending against them.

“I am minded to make an order to give the respondents ample time to comply with the court order and to enable them to appear in court to defend the pending cases,” the judge said.

He then ordered the court’s Deputy Registrar, Litigation to bring to the notice of the IGP and other respondents the pendency of the suits and “the order of this court made on November 5.”

The judge then adjourned till December 8 for a hearing.

In the two suits marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1289/2021 and FHC/ABJ/CS/1290/2021, the applicants are challenging their continued detention by the respondents over their alleged complicity in the death of Osuhor’ wife, Vivian.

Named as respondents in both cases are the IGP, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), DIG Joseph Egbunike, Ms. Loveth Edifie, the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), Abuja and the AGF.

Jude Osuhor and Happiness Efifie were arrested in Lagos on October 2, 2021, by operatives of the Nigeria Police Force from the FCID in Abuja.

Happiness is the immediate younger sister of the deceased and had lived with her late sister and her husband for years in their Lagos home.

According to court documents, Jude and Happiness were transferred from Lagos to Abuja on October 4 and were initially granted bail on October 5, 2021.

They returned to Lagos after administrative bail granted them by the police, but were re-invited by DIG Joseph Egbunike of FCID, Abuja on October 5 and have since then been held in police custody in Abuja.

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