Contempt proceeding in Nigeria: The case of AGF and CBN

February 28, 2023 in Civil Law

Introduction
Following the Disobedience of the court order by the Federal government,  the three state governors instituted a contempt proceeding against the Attorney General of the Federation and the Central Bank of Nigeria. In this article, we will discuss the nature of contempt and what constitutes contempt.


Nature of Contempt

There are two types of contempt: criminal and civil.
Criminal contempt occurs when a person directly interferes with the ability of the court to function properly. For example, by chewing gum inside the court or making calls inside the court while the court is sitting. This is also called direct contempt because it occurs directly in front of the judge. A contemnor can be fined, jailed, or both as punishment for his actions.
Civil contempt occurs when the contemnor willfullydisobeys a court order. This is also called indirect contempt because it occurs outside the judge’s immediate realm, and evidence must be presented to the judge to prove the contempt. A civil contemnor, too, may be fined, jailed, or both. The fine or jailing is meant to coerce the contemnor into obeying the court, not to punish him, and the contemnor will be released from jail just as soon as he complies with the court order. 
Civil contempt includes any conduct that legally constitutes an infringement of the authority and dignity of courts and civil proceedings, especially the art of enforcing court judgments
Civil contempt serves the plaintiff’s interests in a lawsuit by awarding compensation if the lawsuit is civil and the penalty is purely curative. There is also justification for the powers of the courts.
Under Nigerian law, the maximum sentence for civil contempt is six prison terms.

Can the Court hold the AGF and CBN inContempt?

The power to hold individuals or entities in contempt lies with the courts. The Supreme Court is the highest in Nigeria, and it has the power to hold individuals or entities in contempt if they disobey court orders or interfere with the administration of justice.

However, it is not within the power of the Supreme Court to hold the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) or the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in contempt without a valid legal basis. Contempt of court is a serious offence, and it requires clear evidence of willful disobedience of a court order or interference with the administration of justice.

If the AGF or the CBN are found to be in contempt of court, the court may take appropriate actions, such as imposing fines, issuing a warning, or even ordering imprisonment. However, any such actions would need to follow due process and be consistent with the Nigerian legal system.

Conclusion

When court orders are ignored and the reputation of the entire judiciary is threatened, everyone is left with nothing but to take matters into their own hands. This leads to losing respect for the courts thereby leading to the destruction of our society. Courts of justice have an inherent power to punish all persons for contempt of their rules and orders, for disobedience of their process, and for disturbing them in their proceedings.

THE ARREST OF AMINU BY THE FIRST LADY: THE POSITION OF LAW

December 6, 2022 in Civil Law

Introduction
On the 18th day of November 2022, Aminu Adamu Muhammed, a student of Federal University Dutse, Jigawa State was arrested by the security operatives. Muhammed, a final-year student in the Department of Environmental Management and Toxicology, in June 2022 posted on twitter that the First Lady had suddenly added weight after spending the money that is meant for the poor. The social media platform was awashed with this news and the First Lady has been criticised for taking law into her hands.This article will examine the legality or otherwise of the First Lady action.

The Position of the Law
The instance case falls under libel. Libel   is a defamatory statement  which is in written form. To win a case of libel, the person must prove the following
(a)that there is a publication by the defendant.
(b) that the publication is referring to the plaintiff
(c) that the publication is defamatory of the plaintiff.
The other cause of action is cyber bullying under the  Cybercrimes ( Prevention and Prohibition) Act.
Cyber bullying has been defined as an act of harming or harassing a person using information technology thereby using insulting remarks and threatening messages sent by e-mail or spreading rumours about the person either by e-mails or social networking site. Cyber stalking and cyber bullying are sometimes used interchangeably. The Act made use of the expression cyber stalking.
The Act  criminalizes and provides for a punishment of not more than N7,000,000.00 fine or imprisonment for a term of not more than 3 years or to both such fine and imprisonment to any person who knowingly or intentionally sends a message by means of computer which is grossly offensive, pornographic or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character having knowing same to be false, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, ill will or needless anxiety to another. This is contained in Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act. Cyber bullying is a criminal offence in Nigeria.

Conclusion
There is a general saying that where one person’s right stop that is where the other person begins.  The constitution particularly section 39 of the 1999 constitution provides for Right to Freedom of Expression however the right is not absolute.The world is now a global village and care has to be taken on how posts and comments are made on social media platform. Cyber crime Act has been passed into law since 2015 and it is now a criminal offence to bully people on social media.