A federal high court sitting in Minna, Niger state, has ordered that the chief of army staff (COAS), Farouk Yahaya, be arrested and imprisoned for contempt of court.
The order, which was based on a suit marked NSHC/225/2019, involving Adamu Makama and 42 others versus the executive governor of Niger state and seven others, was issued due to blatant disregard of court judgment. A warrant of arrest was also issued against Olugbenga Olabanji, commandant of the training and doctrine command, Minna, over the same offence.
The motion for the issuance of the warrants was moved by Mohammed Liman, counsel to the plaintiffs/applicants. Liman had prayed to the court to send the army chief and commandant to the correctional centre for disobeying an order made on October 12, 2022.
“An order is made committing the Nigerian Army Chief of Staff General Farouk Yahaya, and the Commander Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Minna, i.e. 6th &7th respondents into the custody of the Correctional Centre for contempt of the order of this honourable court made on the 12/10/2022,” Justice Abdulmalik held in his ruling.
The judge added that they shall remain in the custody of the correctional centre until they purge themselves of the contempt.
The case has been adjourned to December 8 for continuation, follows other court orders that have seen heads of major government’s institutions sent to prison for contempt recently.
On Tuesday, the IGP was similarly sentenced to three months imprisonment by a federal high court presided by Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon for contempt of court. His sentence was as a result of a motion filed by one Patrick Okoli, a former inspector in the Nigerian Police Force, who said he was unlawfully and compulsorily retired.
In early November, a federal high court sitting in Abuja, similarly, ordered that the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) be committed to prison for contempt.
The order, which was later set aside, bordered on the inability of the anti-graft agency’s head to obey an earlier judgment by the court judgment.
However, the growing trend is said to underscore the depth of total disregard for the rule of law by those in top offices in the country. It is also believed to signify a change from the status quo that has protected top public office holders from being held accountable under the law.