A leading human rights group has raised alarm over the
whereabouts of Aliyu Tasheku, suspected to have been an informant to the State
Security Service and whom the Nigeria Police have detained since October last
In a worldwide alert, Amnesty International, an international
human rights organisation, said Mr. Tasheku, who was transferred on May 4, 2011
from the police Force Criminal Investigations Department in Area 10, Garki,
Abuja to Maiduguri, Borno State, is being held in “incommunicado detention”, a
sign that “he may be at risk of extrajudicial execution”.
“On 12 May human rights defenders enquiring about Aliyu Tasheku
were told by police at GRA police station [in Maiduguri] that he was no longer
there,” read a petition from the organisation.
“The police refused to disclose his whereabouts, saying only
that he had been “taken to an unknown place.
“Aliyu Tasheku is being denied access to anyone outside his
place of detention, including his lawyers, doctor, family or friends.”
The organisation is also asking the Inspector General of Police,
Hafiz Ringim, to respect the ruling of a Chief Magistrate Court given in Abuja
on March 28, 2011, which ordered Mr. Tasheku’s release.
It is now eight months since Mr. Tasheku has being locked up.
This is despite Binta Mohammed, presiding over Chief Magistrate Court one in
Abuja, summoning Mr. Ringim to appear before the court to explain why he should
not be committed to prison for disobeying the court’s order.
The Police boss, along with two other junior police officers,
Ezekiel Rimans and Bala Inusa of the Police legal department, ignored several
prior notices and neither released Mr. Tasheku on bail nor did they remand him
in Prison custody as the court ordered.
But a look at Police contempt for the judiciary shows that Mr.
Ringim is only towing the line of others who have gone before him.
In the past 12 years since the return to civil rule in 1999, the
Nigeria Police has had six Inspectors General of Police who have, on several
occasions, disobeyed court orders and detained Nigerians for endless months.
Reports of numerous cases of contempt of court have trailed
Nigeria’s number one law enforcement agency. From Musiliu Smith (1999-2002),
Mustafa Balogun (2002-2005), Sunday Ehindero (2005-2007), Mike Okiro
(2007-2009), Ogbonna Onovo (2009-2010), to the current Inspector General of
Police, Hafiz Ringim, Nigeria is yet to produce an exemplary officer after the
heart of the judiciary.
The worst of the lot
Undoubtedly, the police head with the worst record to is Ogbonna
Onovo, Nigeria’s 14th indigenous police boss and the one with the shortest stay
Mr. Onovo, at different times within his 14 months in office,
had multiple petitions written against him over his disregard for the
Arguably the most celebrated case is that of Olukayode Adeniyi,
an Abuja High Court judge, who on August 30, 2010 ordered the immediate arrest
and committal to prison of Mr. Onovo for severally disobeying the court’s order
to release Onyebuchi Eze, a police corporal who, with two other suspects,
Austin Duru and Kenneth Chikure, had been in police detention for several
months on allegations of kidnapping and armed robbery in Anambra State.
Mr. Onovo’s travails culminated in his appointment being
terminated by President Goodluck Jonathan a week later, on September 8, 2010.
But Mr. Onovo just lived up to the pattern of abuse of his
predecessor. In at least two separate instances, Mr. Okiro had disobeyed orders
given by Suleiman Belgore, an Abuja High Court judge; and David Ochimana of a
Chief Magistrate Court in Abuja.
On April 17, 2008, Mr Belgore had ordered Mr. Okiro to release
N50m and other property seized from Kogi businessman, Isah Manfred. The order
was ignored even after the Attorney General of the Federation, Michael
Aondoakaa, in a letter dated April 28, asked Mr. Okiro to obey the court. Four months
later in August, Mr. Belgore summoned the erring IG to answer why he should not
be committed to prison for his flagrant disobedience.
Similarly, at the Magistrate Court on October 9, 2008, Mike
Ozekhome, counsel to Kenny Martins and Ibrahim Dumuje, both of the Police
Equipment Foundation, had asked Mr. Ochimana to commit Mr. Okiro to prison for
repeatedly disobeying the court’s order mandating the police to allow his
clients access to the organisation’s vehicles parked at the National Stadium in
Mr. Okiro however got away with his antics under late President
Umar Yar’Adua who appointed him and kept him till he attained the compulsory
retiring age of 60 years.
Before Mr. Okiro, there was Sunday Ehindero, who though a lawyer
by training, also paved the way for the judiciary to be looked down upon.
Mr. Ehindero had refused to obey an August 10, 2005 order of a
Federal High Court judge, Abimbola Ogie, asking the Police to enforce the
receivership of Pacers Multi Dynamics Ltd, a subsidiary of Sanderson Venture
located in Ikeja, Lagos, in favour of Universal Trust Bank which was owed over
Two months later, on October 20, Mr. Ehindero is reported to
have stated the police would no longer obey court orders to enforce
receivership of companies.
Also on May 30, 2006, Mr. Ehindero was summoned before Stephen
Adah of the Federal High Court in Abuja to defend himself on why he should not
be committed to prison for disobeying the court order given a month earlier to
allow Al-Mustapha Jokolo, the deposed Emir of Gwandu in Kebbi State who was
banished to Nassarawa State, receive medical attention at the national hospital
as well as to produce him before the court.
Mr. Ehindero’s end as IG was however better than that of his
predecessor, Mustafa Balogun, the ex-convict IG who was found guilty of
embezzling billions of Naira in Police funds.
On March 21, 2002 a London based construction company, Aspen
Bridges Limited, had prayed a Federal High Court in Abuja to commit Mr. Balogun
and the Attorney General of the Federation, Kanu Agabi, to prison for refusing
to obey a Lagos State High Court judgment ordering the IG, the AGF and the
Police Service Commission to pay the company about N576.7 million arising from
the construction of over 300 police housing units across the country.
Smith led the way
But leading the fold of contemptuous Inspectors General since
the inception of democracy is Musiliu Smith. He set the pace for others after
him to flout court orders.
In late July 2001, legal icon Rotimi Williams on behalf of 26
Toll operators asked Justice Abubakar Jega of a Federal High Court in Lagos to
commit Mr. Smith, and Minister of Works and Housing, Tony Anenih, to prison for
refusing to obey the court’s January 22, 2001 order restricting them from
seizing 15 toll plazas across the country belonging to private operators who
had won contracts to manage them.
Mr. Jega, who chided the continued contempt of the court by the
agents of government, had said then: “a government which came through the rule
of law, under a democracy should not be seen as the one to undermine it.
“It is also the duty of the court to intervene where it appeared
might is used to defeat right.”
Sadly though, 12 years on, the head of the country’s
constitutionally empowered law enforcement agency has still not got it right,
as the present Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ringim is showing Nigerians.