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IGP, DIG Egbunike, others risk jail for allegedly disobeying court order in Enugu

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A Federal High Court sitting in Enugu has threatened to jail Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba and the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Joseph Egbunike for their alleged disobedience to court order.

Others affected are Inspector Thomas Amonke and one Mr. Ifeanyi Ossai.

They are respondents in Suit No: FHC/EN/CS/96/2021 before the Federal High Court, instituted by Akpa Francis, Obinna Mamah and Joshua Ogbonna who were applicants through their council, Eric Ogudu.

The Court presided over by Justice I. N Buba, had on July 1, 2021, ordered the police who were first to third respondents, to stay all actions and release the applicants forthwith, having been granted bail by the court.

But eight days after the court made the order, the respondents had yet to comply.

The court also on Wednesday, ordered the respondents to appear before the court to show why its orders were disobeyed and why they should not be committed to prison.

When the matter came up on Thursday, the respondents were not in court which forced the presiding Judge, Justice Buba to declare that henceforth, his court would cease to entertain any police case pending before him until the police start obeying court orders.

Speaking on behalf of over 15 lawyers representing the applicants, Valentine Umeha, told journalists that their clients were in court seeking to enforce their fundamental rights to life, liberty and dignity, via the notice of application filed on June 30, 2021, in Suit No. FHC/EN/CS/96/2021.

He said “In line with Order IV of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules, 2009, the applicants also filed a motion exparte praying for bail and interim order directing the Police to stay all actions relating to and/or connected with the complaints of the applicants.

“Following the grant of the motion exparte, the bailiff of the court armed with the duly drawn order and other originating processes, proceeded to FCID Enugu Annex office of the first to third respondents, being the address endorsed for service of the processes on the said respondents.”

He explained that after placing calls on the DIG Egbunike, the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of the FCID Annex Enugu, Mr. Kasumu refused to accept service of the court order and accompanying processes.

“The bailiff of court in adherence to the rules of service of court processes, dropped the court order and the processes in the office of the police officer but he instructed his men to lock the bailiff and the applicants’ lawyers in the police premises insisting that the bailiff and the lawyers can only be allowed to go if he takes back the court order together with other processes.

“Being constrained and in grave danger, the helpless bailiff picked up the processes and left with the applicants’ lawyers who acted as pointers to the bailiff.

“Notwithstanding the above, the bailiff proceeded to Abuja and on July 2, 2021, he effected personal service of the order of court and the originating processes on the above named police officers who are the first to third respondents in the suit pending in court,” he said.

It was gathered that despite the service of the court order directing the Police to release the applicants having been granted bail, the police have refused to release the applicants on bail nor stay further action on the matter.

Upon reporting to the court the refusal of the D.I.G Joseph O. Egbunike to release the applicants as directed, the court on July 7, 2021, ordered the officer incharge of Police Legal Department, State CID Enugu to appear before it to explain why the police will disobey the order.

Also, the applicants through their lawyers have initiated committal proceedings against the IGP, DIG Egbunike and Insp. Amonke by filing in court Form 48 which has been served on the officers.

It was gathered the applicants were arrested following a comment they were said to have made in a WhatsApp platform ‘Enugu Political Arena’, which was said to have offended some politicians.

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