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February 26, 2024
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Court fixes March 21 to hear contempt proceedings against new ICPC chair

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By Taiye Agbaje

A Federal High Court, Abuja, has fixed March 21 for the hearing of motion for committal to prison against Dr Musa Aliyu, SAN, the newly appointed Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

Justice Bolaji Olajuwon adjourned the matter because counsel for the applicants, Faruk Khamagam, and the ICPC’s lawyer, David Agwu, stepped out of the courtroom when the matter was called.

However, shortly after some other cases had be heard, Khamagam called the attention of the court to their matter.

The lawyer, who apologised for not being around when their suit was called, said he was before a sister court, presided over by Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia.

He said since their matter before Justice Olajuwon was second to the last on the cause list, he made arrangement with Agwu to inform him when it was getting to their turn.

“But incidentally, he (Agwu) went out to ease himself too when the matter was called,” he said.

He told the court that the ICPC had just served on him their preliminary objection and a counter affidavit and that they planned to respond.

The commission’s lawyer, on his part, said the applicants had not even served them with the motion for committal.
According to him, we got wind of it surreptitiously through the media.

Khamagam, who responded that the motion was served on the commission, said the court record would speak for itself through the proof of service.

Justice Olajuwon then directed parties to ensure they serve one another necessary applications against the next adjourned date.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the applicants, Nkrah Marine Limited and Eno Jonah Williams, the CEO of the company (judgment creditors), had filed the motion for committal marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1347/2021.

In the motion dated Nov 1, 2023 and filed Nov. 2, 2023, ICPC, First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited and Zenith Bank Plc were listed as 1st to 3rd judgment debtors/respondents respectively.
It sought an order committing the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the first judgment debtor/contemptnor to prison for having refused to obey the orders of the court made against him on Jan. 18, 2022.

The order directed him to remove the restrictions placed on the judgment creditors’ bank accounts Nos: 2657858013, 4573142058 and 4573142027 domiciled with FCMB, and Acc. No. 1000576777 domiciled with Zenith Bank Plc.

The order also mandated the ICPC chairman to pay to the judgment creditor, N5 million in damages, “until he purges himself of the contemptuous acts by fully complying with the judgment and order of this court.”

But in a preliminary objection dated Feb. 5 and filed Feb. 7, the ICPC prayed for two orders.

The commission sought “an order of the court declining jurisdiction to entertain the contempt proceeding as same is incompetent having not been initiated by due process of law.

“An order of the court declining jurisdiction to entertain the contempt proceeding and dismissing same for being incompetent and an abuse of court process in view of Appeal, No. CA/ABJ/CV/445/2022 and CA/ABJ/CV/445/2022 pending before the Court of Appeal, Abuja.”

NAN earlier reported that Mr Eric Ifere, the lead counsel to the applicants, had threatened to proceed with the pending motion for committal to prison against Dr Aliyu if he failed to obey an order of court.
Ifere gave the warning in a letter dated Jan. 17 and addressed to Aliyu.
“On Jan. 18, 2022, the Federal High Court, Abuja, made an order directing you to remove the restrictions placed on the judgment creditors’ bank accounts numbers: 2657858013, 4573142058 and 4573142027 domiciled with First City Monument Bank (FCMB) and account number: 1000576777 domiciled with Zenith Bank Plc and pays the judgment creditors N5,000, 000 in damages.
“On 4th July 2022, the same Federal High Court delivered a ruling refusing the 1st judgment debtor’s request for a stay of execution of its judgment.
“Further, it directed you to remove the judgment creditors’ account restrictions immediately.
“Regrettably, you have neglected and refused to obey the honourable court’s judgment and orders to date.
“Consequently, the judgment creditors have commenced contempt proceedings against you,” the letter read in part.
Ifere urged Aliyu to review the decision by lifting the restrictions and paying the damages before the hearing date for the contempt proceedings.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Sadiya Hamza

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