HFN crisis: Veterans Initiate Contempt Proceedings to Put Minister, DG To Prison
The Federal High Court Abuja has issued Notices of Consequence of Disobedience/Breach of Lis Pendis popularly known as form 48 against the Minister of Sports Bolaji Abdulahi, Director General of the NSC Gbenga Elegbeye and Alhaji Yusuf Dauda who are all defendants in the suit filed by Veterans and current and former serving elite players of the game of handball in Nigeria.
The processes which were signed by the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Court and issued since the 13th day of August, 2013 at the instance of the Plaintiffs to the suit were served personally on all three persons as same were addressed to the specific individuals according to the act of violation or defilement of the orders of the court. Those served on the Minister and the DG were worded the same as follows:
“Further take notice that unless you obey the rule and precepts of lis pendis and the restraints thereby contained and occasioned, you will be guilty of contempt of court and be liable to be committed to prison in respect of further actions as being carried out by you viz; recognizing Alhaji Yusuf Dauda as the President of Handball Federation of Nigeria and approving funds and programmes meant for the Handball Federation of Nigeria for him as holder of the subject matter office which is subject matter of litigation pending before the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Abuja.”
The court similarly warned Alhaji Yusuf Dauda to desist from further actions as being carried out by him such as parading himself as the President of Handball Federation of Nigeria and presenting himself in the said capacity and carrying out duties in that behalf such as obtaining money on behalf of the federation and appearing on sundry radio and television programs or be liable to be committed to prison.
When the suit came up for hearing today (Wednesday), Alhaji Yusuf Dauda and other persons purporting to be board members of the federation were in far away city of Monterrev, Mexico representing Nigeria as head of delegation to the 2013 IHF Trophy Intercontinental Phase and parading himself as the President of Handball Federation of Nigeria against the express orders of the court.
Before they were issued Mexican visas to travel for the competition the pendency of the orders of court and processes were brought to the attention of the Mexican Embassy but the Mexican Ambassador defiled the court categorically stating that he was under express instructions from the Minister of Sports and the NSC to recognize Alhaji Dauda as president and other persons in the delegation as board members of the Federation.
He further stated that “My hands are tied. I don’t want to have problem with your government. It is your government that you sued that sent their names to me”.
Meanwhile, Hon. Justice E.S. Chukwu who is presiding over the suit could not sit today as lawyers appearing before him in 18 cases listed for the day were instructed by the Registrar of the court to take further dates.
The Veterans suit was further adjourned to the Wednesday 22nd of January, 2013.
Reacting to the developments Counsel to the Plaintiffs Terence Vembe said that it is clear from the actions of the Minister, NSC and Alhaji Dauda that they have no regard for the court and that is unfortunate.
He further said that the Plaintiffs are now constrained to approach the court to issue form 49 which will compel the contemnors to appear before it to show cause why they should not be sent to prison for contempt.