Dissolution of agency leadership: Court starts contempt proceedings against Wike and others

Dissolution of agency leadership: Court starts contempt proceedings against Wike and othersA National Industrial Court in Abuja started a contempt case against FCT Minister Nyesom Wike and other individuals on Wednesday due to their alleged disobedience of several court directives.

Alhaji Faruk Abubakar's position as the managing director and CEO of Abuja Markets Management Limited (AMML) was upheld by the court.

This came about as a result of the minister's decision to include the MD of AMML to the list of heads of agencies that were disbanded on September 27.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Wike resigned the positions of 21 parastatals, agencies, and government businesses under the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) on September 27 in a statement. AMML was among the 21 parastatals that were affected.

Alhaji Abubakar filed a contempt charge against FCTA, AMML, and Abuja Investments Company Limited (AICL), listing them as the second through fourth defendants, respectively. Among them is Engr. Yakubu Abbas, the former acting MD of AMML.

The application was captioned "Notice of Consequences of Disobedience to Order of Court" and was filed on November 3 in Form 48, dated and marked: NICN/ABJ/62/2023.

It was filed in accordance with Order IX Rules 1-3 of the Judgment Enforcement Rules, Section 72 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act of 2004, and the court's inherent jurisdiction.

"Take notice that you (the defendants) will be guilty of the contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prison unless you (the defendants) obey the orders and directions contained in the judgment of court on July 20 and the order of this Honourable Court made on July 26," the motion states.

According to NAN, Abubakar's attorney, Faruk Khamagam, wrote to Wike on September 28 after the dissolution to apprise him of the unusual circumstances surrounding the agency's leadership and the legal battle that preceded his nomination as minister.

In the letter, Khamagam informed Wike of a number of court rulings that upheld Abubakar's position as the AMML's substantive MD.

The charge of contempt against the minister and others was that they were operating against the industrial court's July 20 orders prohibiting them from carrying out the alleged letter terminating Abubakar's job as the MD of the AMML.

Judge R.B. Haastrup had ordered the defendants to hold off on implementing the letter they had sent on July 17 terminating Abubakar Usman Faruk's employment as the M.D. of AMML until after the opposing motion had been heard and decided.

The judge further directed the defendants to maintain the status quo ante until the parallel move on notice was heard and decided, and to refrain from interfering in any manner with the management, business, or corporate operations of the AMML.

Additionally, according to NAN, Justice Donatus Okorowo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, restrained the FCT Minister, the FCTA, and others in the suit bearing the case number: FHC/ABJ/CS/499/2023 from dissolving and reconstituting the AMML Board by political decree or press release without first adhering to the CAMA, 2020 procedure. This ruling was rendered on July 10.

The FCT Minister's and the FCTA's authority are exceeded, the court ruled.

Abubakar was also confirmed by the court as AMML's MD.

In addition to claiming that Abbas had been passing himself off as the acting MD of AMML against legitimate court decisions and judgments, Khamagam noted that the AICL and FCTA had persisted in their demand to terminate Abubakar's employment, as stated in their letter dated July 17.

He said that Engr. Yakubu Abbas had been posing as the acting MD of AMML and signing and releasing documents in that role on behalf of the organization from unidentified locations.

On Monday, police officers from several commands allegedly raided the AMML main office in Gudu, after an order from the FCT commissioner of police, according to Mr. Felix Edache, the AMML Legal Adviser and Secretary.

DSP Bello Adamu headed the officers, according to Edache, who stated their deployment's goals were worker safety and tranquility.

"When I went back, I noticed that there were a ton of armed police officers around.

"When I arrived at the office, I was informed that they were there to make sure everything was safe. However, I informed them that I did not know of any police complaints that AMML had filed in relation to that matter.

He declared, "In fact, if there should have been any kind of complaint, it should have come from me."

The true agenda, he claimed, was revealed later that night when they presented a memo from the FCTA, allegedly on behalf of the FCT Minister and signed by General Counsel Salman Dako, requesting that the CP stop the MD, Abubakar, and the Legal Adviser from entering the office.

"Dako's memo stated that the reason for the request was Abubakar's termination of employment, but it did not specify why the police are being called to stop me from attending the office.

We uphold the law as citizens. We'll never take any action that might violate the law.

But every legal weapon at our disposal would be used to oppose any attempt to violate our rights.

In order to avoid being misled into breaking the law, which he also pledged to uphold in his capacity as a public servant and lawyer, it is time for the Minister to reevaluate the legal counsel that the government has provided him.

"I hope the minister will take appropriate action," he remarked.


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