Pathetic! Federal High Court Begs IGP and Abba Kyari to obey Court Orders and produce suspect.

Background

The facts contained below are from reliable information, credible reports and from certified true copies of Court documents obtained.

Mr. Nanpon Sambo (“Mr. Sambo” or “the Defendant”) was charged before the Federal High Court, Jos Division, on the allegation of illegal possession of firearms. This was in Charge No. FHC/J/106C/2016: Federal Republic of Nigeria v. Nanpon Sambo.

While Mr. Sambo was still standing trial, he was subsequently whisked away sometime in February, 2019 by men of the Nigeria Police Force believed to be from the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), and has since then been detained in Police custody. He has equally not been charged to any Court of law in Nigeria for any alleged offence since his arrest in February, 2019.

On the 11th day of March, 2019 and subsequently on the 4th of April, 2019, the Court, presided over by Honourable Justice D. V. Agishi, made Orders directing the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and Abba Kyari (the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of IRT) to produce the Defendant in Court for the continuation of his trial. The said Orders were served on the IGP and Abba Kyari through the office of the Officer in Charge of Legal matters (O.C. Legal) but these Orders were ignored and/or disobeyed by the IGP and Abba Kyari. On the respective dates the Defendant was to be produced, there was no official explanation from the Police to the Court to shed light on the reasons behind the arrest and long detention of Mr. Sambo.

Consequently, on 16th day of May, 2019, the Honourable Judge directed that a letter be directly written to the Office of the IGP attached with copies of the Court Orders earlier made and served, intimating him of the development and again directing that Mr. Sambo be produced in Court. By a letter dated 17th June, 2019, addressed to the IGP, the Office of the Registrar of the Federal High Court, Jos Division wrote and informed the IGP of the situation and accordingly communicated the Court’s Order that Mr. Sambo be produced in Court on the 26th day of June 2019. On the said 26th June, 2019 the IGP and Abba Kyari again failed to produce Mr. Sambo in Court, in flagrant disobedience to the Orders of Court. The matter was thereafter adjourned to the 3rd day of July, 2019.

On the 3rd of July, 2019 when the matter came up, the Defendant was still not produced. Counsel representing the Defendant, D. G. Dashe Esq. moved the Court on the strength of relevant provisions of the law. Based on Counsel’s application and compelling submissions, the Court made fresh Orders directing the IGP and Abba Kyari to personally appear in Court on 25th September, 2019 to show cause why the consequences of contempt of Court should not be taken out against them for flagrant disobedience to previous Court Orders. The IGP and Abba Kyari were further Ordered to produce the Defendant at the Registry of the Court in Jos for documentation and transfer to Jos Prison, where the Defendant would be detained pending the resumption of the Court from the annual vacation, for further proceedings.

It was our information on good authority that on 9th July, 2019, the said recent Order of 3rd July, 2019 was served on the IGP and Abba Kyari through the usual channels.

Pathetic!

It is indeed a terrible development that a Defendant standing trial in Court would not be produced to face his trial in spite of several Court Orders directing that he be so produced in Court. It is equally unheard of that a Court of competent jurisdiction would make an Order and subsequently follow it up with a letter, more or less pleading that its Orders be complied with. Beyond the seeming disregard for the authority of the Court, it further shows the commendable determination of the Court to stand by the citizens and ensure that constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights are not breached or threatened, especially in continuous fashion. Acts by law enforcement agencies under the control of the Executive arm of Government which tend to undermine the powers of the Courts is an affront to the Constitution and is against the whole tenets of the rule of law.

Breach of Rights

The law is clear that every person standing trial (even convicted persons) still have certain rights to enjoy. In fact, it is the right of every suspect to be allowed to face trial in Court for any allegation of crime. Any attempt to deny an accused person an opportunity to face trial for no justifiable reason is a breach of fundamental right as contained in Sections 35(4) and 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). The failure to produce Mr. Sambo has the immediate effect of stalling the progress of his pending criminal trial before the Court. Such failure also runs contrary to Section 159 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015. It is in recognition of the psychological effect and other associated risks of being held for long without trial within a reasonable period that the Constitution made provisions to deal with such.

The IGP and Abba Kyari need to act urgently.

It must be mentioned that the IGP and his IRT (led by Abba Kyari) are doing a great job in combating crimes in Nigeria. It is shocking and ordinarily surprising that the Police would appear to be reluctant to produce a suspect, such as Mr. Sambo in Court. This is unusual. The Nigeria Police Force is a creation of the law and must at all times act in line with the law. It is therefore important that urgent steps be taken to see to strict compliance with the Orders of Court by producing the Defendant and ensuring that he be transferred to Jos Prison as Ordered by the Court. In addition, the IGP needs to see to it that a response letter be written to the Court before the next adjourned date, 25/9/2019, showing utmost courtesy and submission to the authority of the Court. That way, public confidence in the system would be restored and preserved.



Stephen Azubuike
Author: Stephen Azubuike
Stephen is a Legal Practitioner, Consultant, Mediator and Social Entrepreneur. He is the Managing Attorney at Splendour Legal Consultants. He has successfully argued cases from the High Courts of various jurisdictions to the Appellate Courts. Desirous of implementing new legal solutions, he founded Stephen Legal, a firm in the business of providing innovative legal insights and easy solution in this information age. Stephen also serves as a volunteer at Prof. Pat. Utomi’s Centre for Values in Leadership in Lagos, given his passion for capacity building and leadership development.
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