Justice Yetunde Idowu of the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, Thursday, fixed June 6 for ruling on whether to jail Umar Manko, the Lagos State Police Commissioner, and two other officers for disobeying a court order directing them to produce some detained kidnap suspects.
Philip Tomi and Joel Wolomo were arrested by the police on September 13, last year, at Sinaj Suite Limited in Lekki for allegedly kidnapping Alaka Abayomi, 46. Three days later, the duo were allegedly taken into police custody at the State Anti-Robbery Squadoffice, Ikeja from where they were paraded before reporters.
The court had, last February, directed Mr. Manko, Supol Terry (Officer in Charge Anti-Robbery Squad Ikeja), and Sergeant Eric (aka Osa) to bring the suspects to court after their lawyer filed a suit seeking their release.
No lawyer had represented the police officers since the suit began.
“There is a case of willful disobedience of court order and the reason for this is not far-fetched,” said Seliwei Baidi, counsel to the suspects. “The reason is because the respondents have willfully and extra-judicially murdered the applicants and that is the reason why they cannot produce them in court.”
According to Mr. Baidi, since the police chief and his officers have failed to obey a February 18, 2013, order of the court directing them to produce the suspects in court; the court is entitled to apply its “coercive power on them”.
“Even the President of this country is not above the law, not to talk of the police and they must not in any way be allowed to treat this honourable court with contempt,” Mr. Baidi said.
After the suspects were arrested and taken into police custody, they vanished without a trace, according to Dickson Tomi, Philip’s brother.
“The two detainees who were arrested and detained by the respondents (police) can no longer be found in any police cell within Lagos State,” Mr. Tomi said in an affidavit of urgency dated January 28, 2013.
In another affidavit in support of the applicants’ substantive suit, Mr. Tomi stated that the suspects could not also be found in any SARS cell in Lagos.
“The applicants have not been charged to any law court or kept in any prison custody in Lagos State.
“It is reasonably believed that the lives of the applicants have been wasted by operatives of the state anti-robbery squad, Ikeja,” said Mr. Tomi.