Court Berates Civil Defence Corps for Contempt

A Federal High Court, Lagos, berated the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), popularly called Civil Defence Corps, for its failure and refusal to obey a court judgment.

The court presided over by Justice Sule Hassan, berated the contemptuous act of the agency, while delivering ruling, over an argument that arose while attempting to arraign a businessman, Mr. Kingsley Ibeto.

NSCDC through its lawyer, Ezeilo Chioma (Mrs.), had brought the businessman to court for arraignment on a two-count charge bordering on alleged dealing in petroleum product without authority.

But Ibeto’s lawyer, Babatunde Adeyanju, had objected to the reading of the charge, saying that NSCDC has refused and failed to obey an order made by Justice Hadiza Rabiu-Shagari, ordering the agency to release his truck to him with immediate effect.

Justice Rabiu-Shagari, on June 28, while delivering judgment in the suit instituted by the businessman against NSCDC, ordered the agency to immediately release a Mack truck marked XM 347 AAA, to the businessman.

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However, attempt by the NSCDC, in urging the court to take the plea of the businessman on the alleged offences was met with strong objection by the businessman’s lawyer, who told the court that NSCDC had acted contemptuous to an order of the court.

He said: “I objects to the arraignment on the ground that the order of the court on June 28, by Justice Shagari has not been complied with.

“The charge before the court us an abuse of court processes. The order of the court is not just of an ordinary person. We therefore urges the court to dismiss the charge”.

Responding, the prosecutor, Mrs. Ezeilo told the court that the order was on civil suit, while the case before the court is illegal dealing in petroleum product without appropriate license, which is contrary to section 3(6) of miscellaneous offence act, Cap. M17, Laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004, and punishable under section 1(7) of the same act.

But the presiding judge in his ruling said: “I notice that the counsel to the applicant file a suit for release of a Mack truck with registration number X M347 AAA, the prosecution were served with the processes but did not file any counter or oppose the application.

“I see that my learned brother, Justice Shagari on June 28, ordered that the truck be released to the applicant forthwith. This court cannot grant an indulgence to the prosecution.

“The prosecution is in contempt with the order of the court. Therefore, the arraignment of the defendant cannot go on until the order is obeyed. This court shall adjourn for report of compliance, and the defendant should go. Consequently, the matter is adjourned till July 25, for report of compliance”.

After the court proceedings, attempt by the operatives of the agency to arrest the businessman was strongly opposed by his lawyer.

The situation which led both party to return to court for clarification of the ruling, where by the presiding judge, Justice Hassan, reemphasized that the order made by Justice Shagari on June 28, must be fully complied with before the prosecutor (NSCDC) could take any further step.

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