Court summons IG over alleged contempt

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By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA — The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, has ordered the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, to appear before him tomorrow to explain why he should not be committed to prison over his persistent refusal to respect court orders.

The court summon was sequel to a Form 49, a contempt of court proceeding  initiated against the Police boss by Lagos-based human rights activist and constitutional lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN.

Abubakar was accused by Falana of disobeying the judgments of three separate High Courts in Abuja which barred police from intervening in the activities of a Non-Governmental Organisation, NGO, the Peace Corps of Nigeria.

Specifically, the Inspector General was said to have bluntly refused to lift the purported ban placed by the police on Peace Corps since 2009, in spite of declarative orders by various courts of competent jurisdictions.

Consequently, aside asking the court to hand a two-year jail sentence to the IG to serve as an example to others in positions of authority, Falana further persuaded the court to invite the IG to appear and explain to the Chief Judge why the court orders were not obeyed.

A Federal High Court had on September 29, 2011, prohibited the Inspector General of Police, his officers, men, privies and agents from proscribing, harassing, intimidating or in any manner violating the fundamental rights of the Peace Corps of Nigeria, being a registered entity in the country.

The police was, however, alleged to have ignored the court verdict and continued to clamp down on the lawful activities of the corps with indiscriminate arrest of its officers and closure of its offices in the states of the federation.

Falana also claimed that Form 48, being a notice of consequences of disobeying a lawful court order served on police since last year, was ignored, a situation he said prompted the contempt charge upon which the court had ordered the IG to appear.

Similarly, national commandant of the Peace Corps, Ambassador Dickson Akoh, at a media briefing in Abuja at the weekend, confirmed that more of his men had been arrested by police, while official vehicles were seized in addition to closure of their offices, contrary to subsisting court orders.

Akoh told newsmen that police commissioners in the states were claiming that the Inspector General of Police had not given them orders to allow the operations of Peace Corps in line with existing court judgments.

The commandant described the action of police as uncivilized, barbaric, provoking and unwarranted, noting that the police had not appealed against the various judgment that barred it from stopping Peace Corps operations in the country.

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