Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court on Tuesday, ordered the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Alex Okoh, to be remanded in prison for a minimum of 30 days for flagrant disobedience of court order.
Justice Anwuri Chikere accused Mr Okoh of disobedience of the order of the Supreme Court bordering on the ownership controversy of the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON).
Justice Chikere ruled that the continued disobedience of the order of the Supreme Court was a fundamental violation of the rule of law, in a manner that has portrays the government as lawless.
ALSCON, located at Ikot Abasi in Akwa Ibom State, has been the subject of an ownership struggle since the government privatised the firm in 2004. Russia’s Rusal claims ownership of the company while the indigenous BFIG won a Supreme Court ruling backing its ownership claim.
However, inspite of multiple court rulings, the Nigerian government, represented by the privatisation agency, BPE, has refused to transfer ownership of the firm to BFIG.
While BFIG won the initial bid in 2004, the BPE cancelled the process in controversial circumstances.
BFIG launched a legal battle to reclaim ALSCON. The Supreme Court ruled in its favour on July 6, 2012.
Junior courts have since given rulings seeking to compel compliance with the Supreme Court ruling.
In April 2019, BFIG initiated contempt proceedings against the BPE and the Director-General, Mr. Okoh.