30 years after CSP Okoli’s sack: Judge slams 3-month jail term on IGP, Police not aware of court order

The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba has been sentenced to three-month imprisonment for contempt.

Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja gave the verdict Tuesday in a matter involving a dismissed police officer, CSP Patrick Okoli.

The IGP was slammed with the sentence for disobeying a valid court order.

In his ruling, Justice Olajuwon held that the IGP should be committed to prison and detained in custody for a period of three months or he obeys an order made since October 21, 2011.

The action followed a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/637/2009 filed by Okoli who alleged unlawful and compulsory retirement from the Force June 1992.

The Judge noted that though the Police Service Commission (PSC) recommended Okoli’s reinstatement into the Police, a decision that was affirmed by the court, the IGP, refused to comply with the order.

 “It is unfortunate that the chief enforcer of the law is one who has deliberately refused to comply with the same law. It is important to state that obedience to orders of the court is fundamental to the good order, peace and stability of a nation.

“It is a duty which every citizen, who believes in peace and stability of the Nigerian state, owes the nation and the court has a duty to commit the individual who has failed to carry out the order of the court for contempt, so as to prevent the authority and administration of law from being brought to disrespect and to protect the dignity of the court,” the court averred.

“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 until he purges his contempt,” Justice Olajuwon held.

The court also ordered the payment of N10million to the applicant, being special and general damages for the unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional denial of his rights and privileges as a Senior Officer of the Nigeria Police Force from 1993 till date.

I’m law abiding – Alkali

Reacting to the court’s ruling in a statement Tuesday, the Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said the IGP did not disregard the court order or the rule of law, saying the police boss was not aware of any order to that effect.

Adejobi said: “The Nigeria Police Force wishes to state emphatically that the office of the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, psc(+),NPM, NEAPS, fdc, CFR, did not disregard court order or 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 Inspector-General of Police reiterates his commitment to upholding the rule of law and synergizing with the judiciary to ensure quick dispensation of justice for an improved criminal justice system.”

Okoli’s plight

The officer, had several times through his wife, Mrs. Comfort Okoli, cried out on the plight of her husband.

Narrating his ordeal in an interview with LEADERSHIP in 2020, she said:  “They retired him in 1986, so he went to court and won, and they reinstated him in 1987.  They retired him again around 1992 and again he went back to court and they gave a judgement he should be reinstated but they did not.

“They never told us the reason why he was dismissed up till now. We are still going to court and I want the Nigerian police to pay him his entitlements as directed by the court. The court judgement even said they should pay him N10 million as damages and other things,” she said.

The police officer was at different times in Niger, Edo, Cross River, Rivers, Kano, Lagos, Kaduna and Bauchi states before his dismissal as CSP.

Related content you may like