Following his committal to prison for three months by an Abuja Federal High Court for contempt, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Usman Baba Alkali has reacted to the order.
Presiding Judge, Justice M. O. Olajuwon, had on Tuesday, November 29 this year issued the committal sentence.
But the IGP has now described the sentencing as ”strange and astonishing”, insisting that he is not aware of the court order.
The committal came in the wake of a suit filed by a police officer, Patrick Okoli, who was unlawfully and compulsorily retired from the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
However, a statement by Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Olumuyiwa Adejobi, quoted IGP Alkali as saying that he did not disregard the rule of law as the Force was unaware of any court order to that effect.
The statement read: “The Nigeria Police Force wishes to state emphatically that the office of the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, 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 judgment 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 statement said the IGP had directed the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Force Legal Unit to investigate the allegation to ascertain the court’s position and proffer informed legal advice to the IGP for 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.”
But, a legal practitioner, Festus Ogun, has called on the IGP to immediately submit himself to Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS) officers for imprisonment, stressing that he is not above the law.
According to Ogun, “the IGP is not above the law. He must immediately submit himself to the correctional officers. If he fails, refuses or neglects to obey the valid court order, it presupposes that the laws in Nigeria are only applicable to poor and ordinary citizens.”
Justice Olajuwon had held that the IGP be imprisoned and detained in custody for three months or until he obeys an order made on October 21, 2011.
The Judge frowned at the situation where despite a court ordering Okoli’s reinstatement into the Police Force and the Police Service Commission (PSC) also recommending the same, the IGP refused to comply with the order.
The court also ordered that N10 million be paid as special and general damages to the applicant (Okoli).