Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

By Ojukwu Emmanuel Chiadikaobi

The Supreme Court has reaffirmed the decision of the lower courts to impose a jail term on Alexander Okoh, the former Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), for contempt of court. Additionally, the apex court has imposed a fine of N10 million on Okoh, who was relieved of his position by President Bola Tinubu on January 8, 2024.

The case stems from the refusal of Okoh to grant ownership of the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria to BFIG Group Corporation, leading to a legal battle. Both the BPE and Okoh sought to challenge the lower courts’ rulings that resulted in his imprisonment, but the Supreme Court has upheld the earlier decisions.

In 2004, the BPE publicly solicited bids for the privatization of the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria. Ultimately, BFIG emerged as the successful bidder, and the BPE officially communicated this outcome to the company through a letter dated June 17, 2006. However, the BPE later invalidated the bid result, sparking a protracted legal battle.

Although the lower courts initially dismissed BFIG’s case, the Supreme Court, in 2012, ruled in favor of BFIG, directing the BPE to reverse its decision annulling the bid and transfer the company to BFIG. Despite the Supreme Court’s directive, the BPE declined to comply with the order.

Subsequently, in April 2019, BFIG initiated contempt proceedings against the BPE and Okoh. As a result, the court ordered the imprisonment of Okoh for a minimum of 30 days, unless he demonstrated compliance with the court’s orders and ceased his disobedient conduct.

Following this, in December 2019, the BPE sought a halt to the implementation of the committal order against Okoh. The Court of Appeal, in a unanimous decision, upheld the BPE’s request for a stay of execution of the committal order against Okoh, effectively suspending the prison sentence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *