Like IGP, like Oyegun: On the trail of summons’ ‘violators’
By Abdul Mahmud
Today, I return to history- legal and juridical history- to glimpse what has become our national life: disobedience of summons.
That the IGP has refused to obey the summon of the Senate is nothing new. Court orders were disobeyed in our country by John Kenneth Odigie and the heavens didn’t fall. Oyegun got away with it, became Governor of Edo state and Chairman of the APC. Let’s GO. Welcome, Oyegun
Here we go. In 1983 NECOM Tower in Lagos was gutted by fire. Saidu Garba led Federal Fire Service to put out the fire. Two citizens died.
Saidu Garba was arrested and charged to a Lagos High Court for murder. A few weeks later the murder charge was quashed by the High Court
While the murder trial of Saidu Garba was ongoing, Oyegun, Perm Sec, Min of Internal Affairs, suspended Garba. He later dismissed him while the action challenging the suspension of Garba was still pending in court. During the hearing of Garba’s suit, Oyegun was summoned five (5) times by the trial judge, Justice Yaya Jinadu and 5 times John Kenneth Odigie Oyegun ignored the judge and the summons of the court
Saidu Garba eventually won his case; but not without Justice Jinadu resigning his position as a judge, saying:
“I cannot be a party to this humiliation and a disgrace to the judiciary”.
Justice Jinadu left the bench with his head held high.
Oyegun and the Government appealed the decision of the Lagos high court and won in the Court of Appeal where the court held that: Saidu Garba could not challenge his dismissal by virtue of Decree 17, 1984. Garba proceeded to the Supreme Court. He won.
At the Supreme Court, Justice Nnaemeka Agu came down heavily on John Kenneth Odigie Oyegun thus: “for the permanent secretary (Oyegun) to have proceeded to dismiss the appellant (Garba) while his case challenging his interdiction was still pending in court WAS AN ACT OF LAWLESSNESS IN THE EXTREME and a calculated interference with the court’s duty to perform its adjudicative function. This should not be”.
But for the Supreme Court a dedicated public servant (Saidu Garba) would have been humiliated
In honour of Justice Yaya Jinadu, the veteran journalist, Richard Akinola, wrote the book: Salute to Courage- The Story of Yaya Jinadu(1988).
Saidu Garba’s case was fought all the way to the Supreme Court by the irrepressible Gani Fawehinmi.
Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo