24 hours after a Maiduguri High Court declared as unlawful the continued detention of Inuwa Bwala, publisher of National Trail Newspaper and ordered his immediate release alonside his driver , the Borno state police command has refused to obey the court order.
The police action is a flagrant disregard for the rule of law in Nigeria and the police institution must be called to order says Barr.Zanna Hamza , lawyer to Mr Bwala
Justice Hadiza Ali Jos, of Maiduguri High Court Number 14 had on Monday ruled that it was illegal for the Borno state police command to detain Messrs Inuwa Bwala and Muhammed Audu, his driver, for about two weeks without trial.
The judge had also faulted the police for keeping the publisher and denying him access to his medication which resulted in causing his diabetic condition to relapse into crisis.
She specifically ordered that the two applicants be released unconditionally while asking the applicants and the police as respondents to appear in court on 7th of February for the full hearing of their substantive application.
But 24 hours after the applicant’s lawyer, Barrister Zanna Hamza, had presented the court order, the state commissioner of police, Mr. Damian Chukwu, was said to have refused to grant the journalist and his driver bail to go home.
“As we are speaking right now my clients are still in Police detention”, Barrister Hamza.
“We have no option other than toeing the next line of action which is filing a contempt proceeding. And this has been secured and filed”.
The Lawyer said the police had not advanced any reason for flouting the court order after duly receiving a copy of the court order on Monday noon.
“We are at the state police headquarters on Monday and we left there at about 7pm. The bailiff served them the court order before noon. But they said they were not willing release them.
The police, according sources is set to also challenge the court older in court.
But according Mr Bwala’s counsel, “the police is just trying to put the cart before the horse. You have to obey the court order first before anything else. You can’t use an aspiration to hold the execution of an order from a court with competent jurisdiction. You have to obey the court order first”.
“This is a slap on the face of the court and the Judiciary”, he said.
“If police, as a law enforcement organ of government, that is supposed to protect rights of citizens and ensure rule of law, could turn to not obeyed valid court order, then we don’t know where we are heading in this country. Public institutions must learn to obey decisions of the court”.