A reversal of roles, in which the law is enforced against the chief law enforcer, may be witnessed in Lagos State on August 11, 2016 as a Magistrates court is set to determine an application for the committal to prison of a sitting Commissioner of Police for alleged contempt.
The magistrate, Mrs. M.O. Olajuwon has summoned the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, to appear before her on that day to show cause why he should not be committed to prison.
Mrs. Olajuwon, sitting at the Ebute Metta district of the court, had on April 22 ordered the release of a truck belonging to the employer of two of the defendants in a criminal case before her. She had observed, in her ruling, that the Police did not oppose the owner’s application for the release of his truck.
About four months after the order was granted, Police authorities have continued to keep the truck in their custody in apparent disregard for the court. The owner, Yunusa Amuda, who is not a defendant in the case, had through his counsel Akeem O. Aponmade argued before the Magistrate that the detention of his truck was having negative effects on his business and the truck, more so that the release of the truck would not jeopardise the ongoing trial.
In her ruling, the Magistrate held thus: “The charge before the Honourable court is that of conspiracy and stealing and it is against the Defendants not the truck said to be in the custody of the Police.” The ruling went further: “For the above reason and the fact that the prosecution is not opposing the application, Order of the Honourable Court is as prayed but with condition. This Honourable Court hereby orders the release of the Applicant’s Fiat Articulated truck with Registration Number AAA 247 XJ presently in the custody of the Police to the Applicant forthwith. The Applicant is however to produce the vehicle if and when needed by this Honourable Court.”
Mrs. Olajuwon thereafter adjourned the matter to April 18.
To date, the Police have failed to release the truck. All efforts made by Mr. Amuda and his Counsel to have the vehicle released have been frustrated by officials of the Police, purportedly acting on the orders of the Commissioner of Police.
This situation compelled Mr. Amuda to file Form 48 against Mr. Owoseni. However, in a show of contempt, the Police, in spite of Form 48, continued to defy the order of the Magistrate.
In the Form 49, issued under Order IX Rule 13 of the Lagos Magistrates’ Rules, the Police chief has been notified that the applicant will on August 11 apply to the court “for an order for your committal to prison (for having disobeyed the order of this court made on the 22nd day of March 2016, requiring you to release the Applicant’s articulated truck with registration number AAA 247 XJ presently in the custody of the Police to the Applicant forthwith.
“And further take notice that you are hereby to attend the court on the first-mentioned day to show cause why an order for your committal should not be made.”
Meanwhile, when NEWSVERGE contacted the Police Commissioner over the weekend, he declined speaking claiming he cannot comment on issues like that on a Saturday, saying he would prefer to see any document that indict him on a week day.
“You cannot expect me to comment on issue like this on a Saturday, and as a matter of fact, I don’t know what you are talking about.
“If you have any document or Court order against me, bring it to my office. Thank you.” Said Owoseni.