The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday threatened to jail a police lawyer, Simon Lough, for violation of competent court order. The court, however, dismissed an application filed by the police seeking a stay of execution of an order, allowing Senator Ademola Adeleke, to travel to the United States of America (USA) for medical check-up.
The trial Judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo dismissed the application of the police for lacking in merit. Justice Ekwo had, on May 6, granted leave to Adeleke to travel to the USA on May 7 and to return on June 9 to enable him to undergo an urgent medical check-up. He equally ordered Adeleke to honour an invitation of the police on May 6, having restrained the police from arresting him. Adeleke was, however, arrested on the day he went to honour the police invitation and was consequently arraigned the next day before a Magistrate Court in Mpape area of Abuja on a five count charge, bordering on alleged false statement and forgery.
Adeleke, who is the Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2018 governorship election in Osun State was however granted bail and had travelled abroad for the check-up.
To prevent the Senator from the medical trip, the police approached the court with an application for stay of execution of the ruling, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal at the Court of Appeal. The police also want the court to restrain Adeleke from acting upon and enforcing the ruling, until the appeal is determined. In the appeal, hinged on five grounds, the police said the statutory duties of the police would be disturbed if the ruling of the court is executed, while the appeal is pending, since Adeleke, who knows he was about to be charged for forgery and false declaration would have escaped from the country.
The police submitted that the failure of the court to grant the application would render the decision of the Appeal Court nugatory if the appeal succeeds. In his ruling, Justice Ekwo held that from the submissions of the police counsel, Adeleke had travelled and is now attending to medical check-up in the USA, “which means that the application is spent”. By this development, he said there is nothing to stay as injunction is not normally granted over completed act.
The Judge said: “The issue here is not merely that of granting an injunction over a completed act but whether a party can disobey an order of court and come before the same court, seeking for its discretionary power.” He added that the police refused to comply with the order of the court made on May 3 and to have reason for not complying, the police resorted to self help by arraigning Adeleke before the Magistrate court on May 7, just to stop him from traveling “It is obligatory on every person to obey the order of court. This court stands to commit Mr Lough to prison custody for this blatant act of impunity and contemptuous disobedience.
“The exercise of restraint by this court in not dealing with the learned counsel for the complainant/ applicant (Lough) forthrightly is to demonstrate to the learned gentleman that the best of use of power is to restrain,” Ekwo held.
He said by arraigning Adeleke on the day he was granted leave to travel for medical check up in an inferior court has acted disdainfully and thereby derailed the authourity of the court, which he said is a condemnable act. “It must be noted therefore that when positive order of the court is flouted, it is the court that is unduly taunted”. He described Adeleke’s arrest by the police and his arraignment as a very dubious manoeuvre of judicial system in order to avoid compliance with the order of the court.
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