Major-General Muhammed Abubakar
A Federal High Court in Ibadan has ordered the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 2nd Mechanised Division, Ibadan, Major-General Muhammed Abubakar, to appear before him on October 30 or risk being committed to prison for contempt.
Justice Adejumo Obaseki gave the order during the hearing of a contempt application filed by Alhaji G.O Fagbohun on behalf of himself and the Olukola Oganla family.
The family had approached the court to press for contempt charges against Abubakar following his refusal to cause the release of a plot land as ordered by the court in an enrolled consent judgment delivered in 2005.
The said the land, measuring 8.572 hectares forms part of the expanse of land used as old shooting range by the army at Letmauck Barracks in Ibadan.
The GOC incurred the wrath of the judge when his lawyer told the court that the GOC enjoyed immunity under the Armed Forces Act.
Counsel to the GOC, Abubakar Temil, had told the court that his client came to know about the matter through the contempt motion. He reminded the court that as an army officer, the GOC enjoys immunity under the law.
A visibly enraged judge had given it back to the counsel, “the GOC does not have immunity in criminal matters. To whom does he have allegiance if not Nigeria? Although this case was initially a civil matter, it has become a criminal matter since the GOC disobeyed a court judgment. To use the language you understand, it has become a guardroom affair.
“I am coming from Makurdi, where you have your formations and where your men rise to the occasion when they have matters. This is not a magistrate court; it is a Federal High Court and the GOC must respect this court. If soldiers have immunity, why did Governor Babatunde Fashola stop one of you who flouted traffic law in Lagos recently?
“You said you are a lawyer, but you seem to have forgotten the law. You should go and pick up your law books and read about what contempt means because you seem to have forgotten your law since you joined the army.
Counsel to the family, Abiodun Amole, had observed that it was an insult on the court for the contemnors, particularly the GOC, not to send Colonel M.K Mohammed as a representative in a committal matter, adding that the GOC was proving to be above the court.