Court issues warning to Daniel, Bankole, Salako

A Federal High court in Lagos has warned a former Governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole and a former member of the House Representatives from Ogun State, Dave Salako, against taking the court for a ride.

Justice Okon Abang, on Monday, threatened that the court would not hesitate to order their arrest to show that “the court would not only bark but it would bite and where adequately provoked, it would even crush bones.”

The warning was issued following the failure of Daniel, Bankole and Salako to appear in court on Monday in a contempt suit instituted against them by the Ogun State Peoples Democratic Party executive.

Other respondents in the suit are the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The Adebayo Dayo-led executive of the PDP in the state, believed to be loyal to Prince Buruji Kashamu, a chieftain of the party,  had asked the court to jail Daniel,  Bankole and Salako for allegedly failing to comply with two separate judgements of court in respect of the party executive in the state.

It was the allegation of the applicants that Bankole, Daniel and Salako had been engaging in series of activities to dissolve the  Dayo-led executive, despite two separate judgments of the Federal High Court affirming the legality of the Dayo-led executive.

When the matter came up on Monday, out of the three alleged contemns, only Salako was represented in court by his lawyer, Dele Oloke.

Bankole’s lawyer, Afolabi Fashanu (SAN), sent a letter informing the court that he was before the Court of Appeal in Ekiti and therefore asked for an adjournment.

But opposing the prayer for adjournment, the applicant’s counsel, R.A. Oluyede, said adjournment at the instance of the respondents was not allowed in a contempt proceeding.

Ruling on the application for adjournment, Justice Abang noted that a contempt proceeding was not a civil proceeding but a quasi-criminal one, in which personal appearance of the respondents was mandatory.

Frowning at their absence, the judge said, “The alleged contemnors are not in court, but they ought to be in court. It is mandatory that they have to be here. They cannot be in the comfort of their homes and be controlling the court. They must be in court before any application filed by them can be taken.

“The second  (Bankole), the third (Daniel) and the fourth (Salako) respondents have no reason for being absent in court today and no reason has been offered for their absence. It’s not a civil matter. This is a quasi-criminal matter,” the judge said.

He described their behaviour as “reprehensible to the extreme,” adding that, “I will not be a party to this kind of unwholesome development where an accused stays in the comfort of his home to be controlling the court. If the alleged contemnors failed to willingly report themselves by being in court, I will compel their appearance.”

The judge said in view of the behavior of the respondents, it was only deserving to grant some of the requests of the applicants as prayed.

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