Court sentences Otunba Runsewe to prison for contempt

Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, Director General of National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC)

An FCT High Court on Thursday asked the police to commit Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, Director- General, National Council for Arts and Crafts (NCAC) to prison for contempt.

Justice Jude Okeke in a ruling on the motion seeking for the order of the court to sentence Runsewe to prison for disobeying court order of Dec. 15, 2017, held that Runsewe, failed to establish what he asserted.

“The court holds that the party cited (Runsewe) failed to establish what he asserted that the thatched roof of the applicant was removed and replaced in error by his agent, the contractor.

“This means the party cited was in fragrant violation of court order of Dec. 15, 2017 after form 48 now form 99 was served on him reminding him of the need to obey the court order.

“ The reasons the court holds offenders for contempt was the need to improve the rule of law rather than parties taking resort to self-help.

“The act is not only insidious but also an attempt to denigrate this court and besmirching its mobility, aura and responsibility.

“It is mark of abuse of office and arrogance and utter disrespect for the law and the institution of the court,” he held.

Okeke held further that stern measures as provided by the law ought to be taken to serve as deterrent for future occurrence not only by him but also right thinking individuals.

He added that the party cited had ample opportunity to retrace his steps and abide by the law but he chose otherwise.

Okeke held further that the dignity and the honour of the court can not be maintained if all orders given are scornfully rejected without due respect.

“With all said I find the party cited guilty of contemptuous disobedience to the order of the court as handed down by Justice Sadiq Umar on Dec. 15, 2017.

“ The right and power of the court to pronounce sanction on whoever disobeys its order is inherent, by the reasons of the forgoing, the unrepentant conduct of the party cited.

“ The court in his inherent power sentences the party cited Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, the Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Crafts to prison, Kuje Correctional Centre until he purges himself of the contempt of the order of court made on Dec. 15, 2017.

“Also until he replaces the roof of the applicant’s structure in the Arts and Crafts village Abuja to their previous state,” he held.

Okeke, therefore, ordered the Inspector-General of Police to enforce the order.

He then adjourned until March 16, for hearing of defendant’s notice of amendment of motion.

NAN reports that the motion was drawn from a suit filed by Ummakalif Ltd against the Minister, Federal Capital Territory, Federal Capital Development Authority, the Director General, National Council for Arts and Culture, and the Minister for Culture and Tourism, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants respectively.

The motion dated June 21, 2019, was brought pursuant to Order 47 rule 10 sub-rules 1, 2 and 3 of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory Civil Procedure Rules 2018.

It is seeking for an order of court committing Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, the Director General of the 3rd defendant to prison for contempt of the order of court made on Dec. 15, 2017.