Appeal court stops BPE DG’s committal to prison

The Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Alex Okoh
The Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Alex Okoh

The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, has ordered a stay-of-execution of the committal order issued by the Federal High Court Abuja for the remand of the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Alex Okoh, in prison custody for a minimum of 30 days for serial disobedience and contempt of the court.

Justice Anwuri Chikere gave the order after Mr Okoh refused on several occasions since July 6, 2012 to respect the Supreme Court order on the ownership controversy involving the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON).

ALSCON, located at Ikot Abasi in Akwa Ibom State, has been the subject of an ownership struggle between UC RUSAL and Nigeria-American consortium, BFIGroup since the government privatised the firm in 2004.

UC RUSAL was disqualified by the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) for violating bid guidelines. BFIG had gone head to win the bid with an offer of $410 million.

But, BPE cancelled the outcome of the bid in controversial circumstances, triggering a bitter legal tussle that ended in July 6, 2012 with a unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court, which directed the BPE to rescind its decision to cancel the bid and hand over the company to BFIG.

Despite multiple court rulings, the privatisation agency refused to respect the apex court’s order and transfer ownership of the firm to BFIG.

In April 2019, BFIG initiated contempt proceedings against the BPE and Mr Okoh.

The judge ruled that the continued refusal to obey the Supreme Court order by BPE and Mr Okoh was a fundamental violation of the rule of law, “which portrays the government as lawless.”

Justice Chikere ordered that Mr Okoh be remanded in prison for at least 30 days until he purges himself of the continued disobedience of the court and further contemptuous conduct.

Reprieve

But, following an appeal No. CA/A/117/M/2019, filed before the Appeal Court, a panel of three, consisting Justice S. J. Adah, Justice R. M. Abdulahi and Justice M. B. Idris in, on Monday, directed a stay of execution of the order pending the hearing and determination of the motion fixed for January 20, 2020.

The restraining order reads in part: “An order restraining the respondent, the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court, Abuja, their servants, agents, law enforcement agents and persons acting for or on behalf of the Respondent from enforcing, attempting to enforce arrest or imprisoning the 2nd Respondent/Applicant pursuant to the ruling/committal order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Coram Chikere J. dated 17th December, 2019 in the suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/583/2004 BFI Group Corporation v Bureau of Public Enterprises, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed by the Appellants/ Applicants.”


Advertisement

PT Mag Campaign AD

Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.

Donate


TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...



BE THE FIRST TO KNOW! Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

DOWNLOAD THE PREMIUM TIMES MOBILE APP

Now available on

  Premium Times Android mobile applicationPremium Times iOS mobile applicationPremium Times blackberry mobile applicationPremium Times windows mobile application

All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.