By Kayode Adeoti
The Kwara State High Court, sitting in Ilorin on Thursday refused to hear contempt application filed by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki against the Publisher of online newspapers,Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore.
The presiding judge, Justice Sikiru Oyinloye ordered that the application be taken to the court registry for re-assignment
In a motion of notice dated September 11th, 2017, Saraki’s counsel, Tunde Olomu sought for an order for Sowore (2nd respondent) to appear in court in person and show cause why he should not be committed for contempt of court in respect of publications made scandalising the court.
Also sought was an order refusing audience to the defendant/respondent in respect of pending applications before the court until they purge themselves of the said contempt.
Olomu based his application on “the provision of order 47 of the Kwara State High Court (civil procedure) rules 2005, empowers this court to punish a person for contempt of court by an order for committal; the 2nd defendant had published on several platforms on the World Wide Web, contemptuous and derogatory remarks of this honourable court and the person of the presiding judge, calculated to scandalize the court.”
In his ruling, Justice Oyinloye said “I do not want to be a judge in my own court. I hereby direct counsel to Senator Saraki to redirect the contempt application to the registry for re-assignment.”
In his oral application after the ruling, Olomu prayed the court to “stay further proceedings on other applications pending the outcome of the reassignment of the contempt application by the registry.
In his argument, counsel to the defendant, Stanley Imahuor said the oral application was strange and improper, saying it was an indirect way of ambushing the application which had just been referred to the registry for reassignment.
“The oral application is an attempt to ambush the decision of the application referred to the registry; his application is not proper. This is a very serious application with very serious business, he said.
This court ought not to have entertained this oral application. “Courts are enjoined not to speculate on issues that are not before them. Contempt is quasi criminal in nature. We urge you to discountenance the application.”
In his ruling, Justice Oyinloye said that “I cannot entertain any further proceedings on this matter until the application for contempt of court I referred to the registry is resolve.
“I therefore fix 24th of November, 2017 for report on the progress made. I also direct the registrar of this court to make sure the application is expeditiously attended to in the next two weeks.”
The court however fined the SaharaReporters the sum of N20,000 for discontinuing their motion on notice dated August 18, 2017.
Recall that the court had in May, 2017 slammed N4bn fine against SaharaReporters (Sowore) for publishing libellous stories against the person of the Senate President.
But, Sowore, approached the court through his counsel, Imahuor praying for stay of execution of the judgement.