The Managing Director of Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr Fidet Okhiria, has been ordered jailed for three months over contempt, a Lagos High court judge said today.
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun ordered he should be imprisoned prison following his perpetual refusal to appear in court despite several summons.
”I have looked at the various affidavit placed before the court and have examined the papers filed from both sides. The contemnor in particular continued to disobey the order of the court. Even if he did not have the notice between February, till date, he was supposed to have been guided by his lawyer. He has not given reason to disobey the court order. He treated the court order with levity. I am left with no option than to convict him.
“I hereby sentence him to three months imprisonment,” Justice Olatoregun declared
She further ordered that he should be in custody till September 25, 2018 when the case will continue.
Okhiria had through his lawyer sometime in March 2018 informed the court that he was out of the country on official assignment. The court then ordered him to show evidence of being on official assignment outside the country as he claimed.
The trial judge had on February 15, 2018 threatened to order the arrest of Mr Okhiria for his persistent refusal to appear before the court in the suit filed against him by the former employee of the Nigeria Railway Corporation, Mr Benedict O. Iheakam.
Iheakam had approached the court through his counsel, Mr Johnson Esezobo (counsel to judgement creditor) asking for an order committing to prison, the MD of the NRC,and the Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Canise Oklahoma for alleged refusal to comply with a 14 year-old court order.
Justice Dan Abutu had in a suit FHC/L/CS/926/95 ordered Iheakam’s reinstatement and the payment of his entitlements.
Obiorah Emedolibe, secretary to the Corporation averred that “Okhiria travelled out of the country to China on official duty since February. 7,2018 as part of Federal Government team on fund sourcing for the Railway modernisation projects.”
Justice Olatoregun therefore ordered Okhiria to show evidence of the journey at the next adjourned date. But he never did.
Justice Abutu in a judgment delivered on February 18, 2003 declared that Iheakam, a Principal Technical Officer’s retirement in 1994, was unlawful, null and void.