LEGAL IDEAS FORUM

DSS SEEMS NOT TO HAVE LEARNT FROM HISTORY: NIGERIA DESCENDING TOWARDS ANARCHY

Despite the order of the Federal High Court for Sowore to be released, DSS has remained adamant. To my mind keeping Sowore is unconstitutional and a grave violation of his right to personal liberty. Court ordered that Sowore should be remanded for 45 days, ordinarily therefore, he ought to have been released automatically by reason of lapse of time since their application for the renewal of the remand order was refused. But they are still keeping him even contrary to court order
Similar thing happened in 2016 and because of the many orders that the DSS were yet to comply with then, Federal High Court, Abuja, refused to grant the pending applications brought by the DSS until all the orders of the court were obeyed. Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, as a vacation judge, told the DSS Counsel GOA Agbadua when he brought an application for a remand warrant that it would be wrong for the court to grant an application of the DSS when it had no regard for orders of the Court. That he had ordered that retired Air Commodore Umar Mohammed, who was arraigned before him, to be remanded in Kuje Prison pending the hearing of his bail application. “But the DSS decided to keep him in its custody against the order of the court.’’ Dimgba also cited another instance when he ordered the service to produce some accused persons in court but noted that the DSS had yet to comply.
The court will not grant any application of the DSS until there is sufficient proof that all orders of the court have been obeyed.` `It will be counter-productive for the court to take this application and grant the reliefs sought by the DSS. “This court hereby adjourns this application sine die until the applicant’s counsel files an affidavit deposing to the fact that all outstanding orders of this court on the DSS have been complied with.’’ the judge ruled. 
If we are to to still take a stroll down memory lane, The Nigerian Military were lambasted on this same issue of disobedience to court orders by the Court of Appeal in the case of Nigerian Army v Mowarin (1992) 5 NWLR Pt 235 P. 345 CA. In this case the Nigerian army detained Mowarin. On application by Olisa Agbakoba, Esq (now SAN), the court ordered for her release but the Army refused to release her. Rather, they filed an appeal against the order for her release and also filed a motion for stay of execution. The Court of Appeal held to the effect that a flagrant flouting of an order of the court by the executive (now DSS) is an invitation to anarchy. “The same contemnors have come with very unclean hands supplicating before this Court for a grant of favor that would, as it were, legalise their contempt. I would like the applicants to a sinner who prays to God to assist him in the commission of his sins. Just as God will not listen to such supplication, this Court would not grant such a prayer.”
It is submitted that disobedience to court orders is an anathema to, and desecration of the sanctity of, rule of law. It is an aberration in a democratic setting. Perhaps there is no better way of putting it than calling in aid the words of Wali J. S. C. In the case of EZEKIEL HART V. EZEKIEL HART (1990) NWLR (Pt.126) 276 wherein the eminent law lord observed:
 “To allow Court orders to be disobeyed would be to tread the road toward anarchy. If orders of the Court can be treated with disrespect, the whole administration of justice is brought into scorn.  if the remedies that the Courts grant to correct. wrongs can be ignored, then there will be nothing left for each person but to take the law into his own hands. Loss of respect for the Courts will quickly result into the destruction of our society.'”
An erudite judicial icon, Nnaemeka J. S. C. in his concurring judgment in the same Hart’s case above said and I quote:
 “I would like to state that obedience to orders of court is fundamental to the good order, peace and stability of the Nigerian nation. The ugly alternative is a painful recrudescence of triumph of brute force or anarchy – a resort to our old system of settlement by means of bows and arrows, matchets and guns or, now, even more sophisticated weapons of war. Disobedience to an order of court should, therefore, be seen as an offence directed not against the personality of the Judge who made the order, but as a calculated act of subversion of peace, law, and order in the Nigerian society. Obedience to every order of court is therefore a duty which every citizen who believes in peace and stability of the Nigerian State owes to the nation.”
Standing on the foregoing, I urge the DSS to release Sowore Forthwith.

About the author
O. G chukkol is a law student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. A prolific writer and political commentator

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