A contempt charge seeking to commit Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, to two years imprisonment for persistent violation of court ordest issued in 2014 has been shifted to April 17 for hearing.
However, the court imposed a fine of N5,000 on the IGP for filing his counter affidavit out of time causing the adjourned of the hearing of the charge.
At the resumed hearing Tuesday, counsel to the police chief, Seidu Jubril told Justice Silvanus Oriji that the contempnor had disengaged with a counsel, O.M. Atoyebi.
Jubril further told the court that the Commissioner of Police in charge of Legal Services, Mr. David Igbodo is to henceforth represent IGP and that he had on Monday filed a counter affidavit against the originating summon.
A drama however ensued when Justice Oriji demanded for the whereabouts of the IGP, Idris, who was ordered to personally appear before the court.
The counsel who was taken aback informed the Judge that the IGP was out of Abuja at the time he was leaving office.
The Judge, who was not pleased with the explanation asked the counsel whether the IGP was not aware that he ought to be in court today, but the counsel promised to convey the court’s feeling to the appropriate authority.
Counsel to the Peace Corps, Nweze Okechukwu, who initiated the contempt charge against the IGP faulted the police chief for failure to obtain leave of the court to regularize the counter affidavit that was filed out of time.
At this stage counsel to the IGP agreed that he needed leave of the court and applied to the court for an adjournment which the court granted with a fine of N5,000.
Justice Oriji subsequently adjourned till April 17 for hearing of the matter.
The Judge had in a ruling at the last sitting ordered the IGP to be in court yesterday, to show cause why he should not be committed to prison for his disobedience to the lawful order of the court made on March 26, 2014 stopping Police from interfering with the activities of the Peace Corps.
In his preliminary objection against the contempt charge argued by his counsel David Igbodo, the IGP claimed that he was not personally served with form 48 in relation to the contempt charge.
He prayed the court to void the contempt charge and set it aside on the ground that the form 48 summoning him to appear in court was served on the commissioner of Police in charge of legal matters at the Force Headquarters.
But Justice Oriji in his ruling slammed the IGP for employing technicality and delay tactics to frustrate the charge against him.
The Judge imposed a fine of N25,000 on the Police Chief and ordered him to personally appear in court on the adjourned date.
The Peace Corps of Nigeria through its counsel, Joshua Yakubu Musa, (SAN) had approached the Abuja High Court praying it to commit the IGP Idris to prison for two years for flouting the judgment of the court delivered on March 26, 2014.
The Senior Counsel submitted that in spite of the restraining order against Police not to interfere with operations of the Corps court, the police have refused to obey the court order by sealing up its head office in Abuja, among others.
The counsel claimed that since March 26, 2014, when the court verdict was handed down, the police have neither appealed against the judgment or allowed the rule of law to prevail
In the 2014 judgment, Police was fined N12.5m as compensation for the principal officers and men of the corps who were arbitrarily arrested across the country and detained in various cells.
The proscription order placed on the corps by Police was also voided and set aside by the court in the 2014 judgment on the ground that the defendants (Police) have no power under the law to ban or proscribe any organization, including the Peace Corps lawfully registered by the federal government as a youth organization.
It will be recalled that a former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi (SAN) had filed another contempt charge against the Police boss for disobeying the Federal High Court order that Police should unseal the Peace Corps office in Abuja.
The new judgment was handed down by Justice John Tsoho of the federal high court Abuja.