Contempt: Court orders Police to arrest Onovo

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—Following the refusal of the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ogbonaya Onovo, to appear before it yesterday, an Abuja High Court sitting in Maitama, has ordered the Federal Capital Territory Police Command to ensure that he was arrested and produced in court on September 7.

Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, who was irked by the absence of the police boss in court yesterday, however, acceded to a request by a police lawyer, CSP Henry Njoku, who pleaded for more time to enable the force put its house in order.

CSP Njoku, who yesterday maintained that the police-chief would not intentionally undermine the honour and integrity of the Nigerian judiciary by holding its orders to contempt, added that the police authority got to know about the pendency of the suit, as well as the warrant of arrest against the IG, via Newspaper publications.

According to him, “my Lord, I was at the registry of this court yesterday (Wednesday) after reading the publication titled ‘Court orders the arrest of the IG of police.

“The registrar, one Mr Malik, then showed me a bench warrant directed against the IG, and informed me that a copy of it was served on the FCT Police Command for eventual execution.

“I think my lord that there is an avoidable lacuna in respect of this case as the respondent will not do anything intentionally to undermine the honour and integrity of this court in particular and the judiciary in general.

“In the circumstance, my lord, we most humbly and passionately apply for a very brief adjournment to enable us to regularize appearance and perfect the orders of this court.

“With regards to section 36 of the 1999 constitution, it will amount to a great injustice if the respondents are not given fair hearing in this case,” he insisted.

However, counsel to the applicants, Mr Asekome Oteiku, while refuting claims by the police that it was yet to be properly intimated about the court order, prayed the high court judge to go ahead and preserve the sanctity of the judiciary and the rule of law by ensuring that its orders were strictly complied with.

In his short ruling after listening to both counsels, Justice Adeniyi held thus: “There is enough proof before me to show that the warrant of arrest issued against the IGP on August 30 was duly served on the FCT police command.

However, I shall in the over-stretched interest of justice accede to this request, though grudgingly, but at least nobody from today can claim ignorance of this order."

“This case bothers on the issue of life and death and Order 4 Rule 3 of this court calls for its speedy disposal. The constitution does not give anybody, no matter who he is, the right to keep Nigerian citizens in custody indefinitely.

“The law that made him IG is no respecter of anybody, am guided by the procedures of this court and he must also be properly guided. The records before me show that he was properly served.

“Consequently, I hereby set down this case till September 7 to await the compliance of the respondent”.

It would be recalled that the high court on August 30, ordered the arrest of the IG, over his alleged refusal to comply with a summon issued to him by the court in a case of unlawful detention of two police corporals, Onyebuchi Eze and Kenneth Chikwe.

The court equally ordered all the law enforcement agencies in the country to comply with the directive, adding that he should be detained under prison custody until yesterday.

Justice Adeniyi had, ab-initio, ordered the police boss to personally appear before him to show cause why he should not be committed to prison for allegedly violating four separate court injunctions, allegedly served on him on August 9, 12, 18 and 20, 2010, with regards to the continued detention of the two accused persons.

The duo alongside one Mr. Austine Duru where on October 7, 2009, arrested by operatives of the State Security Services, SSS, at Owerri, the Imo State capital, for allegedly collaborating with suspected kidnappers in Anambra State and subsequently transferred to the Force Headquarters in Abuja.

Though they are yet to be arraigned before a competent court over the alleged crime since they were arrested in 2009, a human right organization, the International Human Rights Initiative, however, took the case to court after the 1st accused person, (Onyebuchi Eze), was said to have developed appendicitis while under detention and was denied medical attention by the police.

The right body applied to the court for an order directing the Nigerian Police to grant him conditional bail to enable him to go for a surgery, a request that was acceded to by the high court and refused by the police authorities.

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Comment by obi amaefule on September 6, 2010 at 11:37am
i wonder wot the president is saying this.
why is everybody silent on this matter?
this clearly shows that the laws and orders are not everybody.
this shows that everybody is not equal b4 the law as always presumes.
this is absolutely unacceptable, if those at the top are not obeying the laws they want or force others to obey
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Comment by EMMANUEL ORU UDE on September 3, 2010 at 4:29pm
Na who go arrest am? common trader wey dey inside market they no fit arrest am
Comment by Pharez on September 3, 2010 at 1:17pm
pls UGOCHUKWU NNAMAH the fact that we are talking about kidnapping here does not give the police boss the right to disrespect the law court. he should respect himself and show up in court.
Comment by Nkem Eli on September 3, 2010 at 12:38pm
Oga JUDGE please go arrest IGP by ur self if dont have regard for the police authority.
Comment by ADENIJI ADEWALE on September 3, 2010 at 12:18pm
I was once a police officer and the force will forever remain my constituency irrespective of whatever. However, the law is no respecter of anyone irresepective of ones position. Even the president of a country is under the law of such country for without the rules and laws of the land, he might not be there in the first place. The Inspector General of police have no right under the law not to hacken to whatever order given a court. It does not matter if the men concern are members of the Nigeria police force. The IG does not have the right to detain them indefinitely. The laws of the land supercede whatever the police acts says. The corporals concerned remain innocent of the crimes alledged they have committed until the contrary is proved beyond reasonable doubt. It takes one to have been a victim to know police detain members of the force indiscriminately without regards for their fundamental human right. I was in the same vein detained in the past by a commissioner of police for seven days over a girlfriend issue. This happens everyday in the force and guys are detained indiscriminately against the law of the land. In a nutshell,IG must show up in court or be arrested and brought before the judge. Who will do that is the question on my lips because of Nigerian factor? In a sane society, even a president of a country will appear before a judge to asnwer for a charge against him or as a witness. It is only in Nigeria that public servants see themselves as lords rather than a servant that they are.
Comment by Anthony Unukpo on September 3, 2010 at 10:20am
Never will it happen in Nigeria that a police commissioner would walk into the IG's office to arrest him. It will be very easy for a Nigerian born British to be king of England than for the police boss to be arrested & brought to court. IMPOSSIBLE!!!
Comment by Fadeyi Abey on September 3, 2010 at 9:58am
This is sign and song of victory over those people that has non valant attitude to rules nad laws that bind a country of 154 million people,so no one above the law men.
Comment by OVUSIKE OGBARA on September 3, 2010 at 8:59am
the police Ig, had better answer the call because if any of those persons dies, he will account for it.
Comment by UGOCHUKWU NNAMAH on September 3, 2010 at 8:52am
the court should stop this bulshit and let us all re-build Nigeria they should know that we are talking about kidnapping here and i do not see reason why the IG will be in court in regards to the arrested of officers that support this kidnaping thing

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