Contempt: Court Strikes out Okereke-Onyiuke’s Name


By , 07.28.2010 


Justice James Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday struck out the names of Director-General of Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE), Prof Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, and Secretary to the NSC Council, Mrs. Josephine Igbinosun, from the contempt proceedings filed by some aggrieved shareholders of African Petroleum (AP).


Justice Tsoho’s decision followed the oral application by their Counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), on the ground that the duo were never parties to the substantive suit before the court.In the application, which was not objected to by the counsel to the AP shareholders, Onyebuchi Aniakor, Olanipekun told the court that Okereke-Onyiuke did not refuse to honour the summons of the court but could not appear before it on July 22 because she was on national assignment.


He urged the court to vacate the bench warrant against her for being in court as well as strike her name and that of Igbinosun, already on bail on self-recognition out of the contempt proceedings, a request acceded to by Justice Tsoho after Aniakor raised no objection to.


But the judge adjourned hearing on the application by business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, to stay the bench order issued against him by the judge till October 20, 2010.Before adjourning the matter, Justice Tsoho had refused an earlier application by Dangote to stay proceeding on the matter pending an appeal lodged at the Lagos Division of Court of Appeal.


Dangote’s Counsel, Rickey Tafa (SAN), who affirmed that Dangote was out of the country contended that it was the law that when an appeal is filed, the lower court stays jurisdiction in order not to prejudice the outcome of the decision of the higher court. But in objection, Aniakor questioned the propriety of the motion filed by Dangote asking the court to halt the execution of a warrant of arrest issued against him for failing to appear before it to answer allegation of disobedience of court order.


He contended that Dangote must purge himself of the contempt before he could be heard.In his submission, Aniakor said Dangote should make himself available before the court first to be heard.In his short ruling, after hearing the submissions of both counsel, the judge refused the application for stay of proceedings.According to the judge, the court is uncomfortable to make a pronouncement on the issue of stay of proceedings, since there is a similar application at the Court of Appeal.


“The material issue in summary is to stay proceeding because of the fact that Dangote had filed a stay in the appeal court as well as an appeal against the order of the court. This is putting the court in a difficult position and amount to setting the court in collision with the appeal court, the application for stay hereby failed.


“The case is adjourned till October 20, for hearing of application for stay of the issuance of bench warrant on the first respondent,” he addedIt will be recalled that the Court had issued a bench warrant compelling Dangote to appear before it over contempt charges filed against him by the AP Shareholders.But Dangote later filed a motion for an appeal to that order as well as a stay of proceeding pending the determination of the appeal.






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