Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, has told the Presidential Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, that merely filing of appeal does not justify contempt of the court.
Adesina was reported to have said that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration refused to obey the orders of the Federal High Court for the release of Sheikh Ibraheem El-zakzaky from the ‘illegal’ custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) because it filed an appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court delivered on December 2, 2016.
But in a statement issued yesterday, Falana noted that before now, the federal government had invoked “national security” to justify its ‘contemptuous conduct’.
He argued that because the federal government was embarrassed by the allegation of disobedience of court orders being leveled against it, it has now turned round to give the misleading impression that the filing of an appeal is a justification for not releasing the Sheikh from detention.
According to him, “With respect, it is trite law that the mere filing of an appeal does not operate as a stay of action in respect of the judgment of a court. In the instant case, the filing of the appeal referred to by Adesina has not varied or suspended the orders of the federal high court for the release of Sheikh El-Zakzakys from unlawful detention.
“It may interest Adesina to also know that the order of a court for the release of a citizen from custody cannot be stayed pending the determination of an appeal. Hence, the federal government did not deem it fit to file any motion for stay of execution of the orders of the federal high court. Even during the defunct military junta in Nigeria, the Court of Appeal dismissed the motion for stay of execution in the case of Nigerian Army vs Mowarin (1992) 4 N.W.L.R. (pt 235) 345. According to Kalgo J.C.A. (as he then was): ‘The refusal of the application will not cause any injury to the applicant, but if the application is granted, the respondent will continue to suffer personally in detention after the court has declared her detention unlawful ab initio.