AGF, CDS, others escape prison over contempt

A gavel and sound block used by judges
A gavel and sound block used by judges in court

Barking Ladi (Plateau) The Attorney General (AG) of the Federation, Chief of Defence Staff and Director General (DG), State Security Service narrowly escaped being sent to prison on Wednesday for Contempt of court.Also fortunate to escape being sent to prison is the STF Commander, Maj.-Gen. Augustine Chukwudi-Agundu, facing fundamental Right charges in a High Court in Barkin Ladi Local Government of Plateau.They failed to obey a court order to produce a suspect and applicant allegedly in their custody.

The applicant, Mr Dalyop Bulls, was reportedly arrested on Nov. 11, 2017 by military personnel attached to the Operation Save Haven (OPSH) known as Special Tasks Force (STF) and thereafter nothing was heard of him by the parents.

Irked by the attitude of the security operatives, who up till date have not filed any charge against him, he (Bulls) through his counsel, Mr Gyang Zi, filed a fundamental Right suit against them (operatives) before Justice Samson Gang, of State High Court, Barkin Ladi.Justice Gang had, on April 4, gave an order to the AGF, Chief of Defence Staff, SSS and The STF Commandant, who are 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th respondents respectively, to produce Bulus in Court on the next adjourned date, May 23 but they failed to comply.News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that when case came up for hearing on Wednesday, Zi told the Court that respondents had failed severally in producing Bulus in Court and applied for their committal to prison for disobeying the court.“My Lord, as you can the applicant is still not in Court today simply because the respondents deliberately refused to heed to your order made since April 4.

“This is a clear case of contempt in the face of the court. Consequently, we hereby humbly apply that the court should invite the AGF, Chief of Defense Staff, the DG of SSS and STF Commander to come and show cause why they should not be committed to prison for failure to obey court order.“This is a fundamental Right case which is sue-generic looking at order 11 rule 1 of Administration of Criminal Justice. So the issue of contempt must be heard first before any other submission can be entertained, “ Zi argued.Zi argued that whether the respondents have counsels representing them or not, they were duty bound to comply with the court order and urged the court to grant the application.Responding, Mr I.K. Randa, counsel to the Chief of Defence Staff and STF Commander, objected to the application, arguing that the order was give in their absence but now that they have come, they should be allowed to come in proper.

“We don’t think it’s proper for him (Zi) to blankly make such an application when we are just knocking on the door of the court to be opened for us to come in formally and ventilate the issue.“Beside, this is not a court of summary trial. We, as lawyers, will never be happy to see that the court, which is our field and farm, is despised.

“If we condone that, it means we shall soon be out of Job.“I would humbly urge your Lordship to dismiss the application, which should have been made formally in writing and not verbally in accordance with the rule of this court, “ Randa argued.After listening to the arguments of the parties, Justice Gang dismissed the application and ordered that it should be made formally in writing by way of applying for Form 48 in accordance with the rule of the Court.

“The application for contempt is not before this Court not until it’s formally put before it in writing, applying for form 48.“Until then, the respondents can’t be committed to prison,  l so ruled, “ the judge declared.NAN reports that the judge adjourned the case to July 2 for hearing of motion filed by the respondents counsels. (NAN)

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