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Contempt of court: Judge orders imprisonment of BPE DG

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A federal high court in Abuja has ordered the arrest of Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Alex Okoh, for failing to obey court order.

The judge, Anwuri Chikere who gave the order on Tuesday, directed that Okoh be remanded in prison for a minimum of 30 days.

She accused the defendant of serial disobedience of the supreme court order on the ownership controversy of the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON).

BFIGroup, a Nigerian-American consortium, had won the bid to take over ALSCON in 2004 but was disqualified by the BPE led by Okoh.

The supreme court eventually declared BFIG the rightful winner of the bid for ALSCON in 2012.

However, the BPE refused to hand over ownership to BFIG.

BFIG initiated a contempt suit against the BPE and Okoh, its DG for failing to obey the supreme court order.

Despite being issued a notice of the commencement of contempt proceedings, popularly called Form 48 which stated the consequences of disobeying court order, the BPE DG refused to appear in court to answer to the allegations against him.

Delivering her ruling, the judge held that the continued refusal to obey the supreme court order was a fundamental violation of the rule of law, which portrays the government as lawless.

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