The National Industrial Court on Wednesday began contempt proceedings against FCT minister Nyesom Wike and others for disregarding a series of court orders.
The court affirmed Faruk Abubakar as managing director and CEO of the Abuja Markets Management Limited. The development followed the decision of the minister to include AMML’s MD in the list of heads of agencies dissolved on September 27.
Mr Wike had, on September 27, in a statement, relieved the heads of 21 parastatals, agencies and government companies of the Federal Capital Territory Administration of their appointments with immediate effect.
The contempt charge, filed by Mr Abubakar, also joined FCTA, AMML and Abuja Investments Company Limited (AICL) as second to fourth defendants, respectively, including former acting MD of AMML Yakubu Abbas.
In Form 48 marked NICN/ABJ/62/2023, dated and filed on November 3, the application was titled ‘Notice of Consequences of Disobedience to Order of Court’. It was brought pursuant to section 72 Sheriff and Civil Process Act, 2004, Order IX Rules 1-3 of the Judgment Enforcement Rules and Under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.
Mr Abubakar’s counsel, Faruk Khamagam, had, following the dissolution, written to Wike on September 28 to inform him about the peculiar situations that surrounded the agency’s headship and the legal tussle that preceded his appointment as minister.
Mr Khamagam, in the letter, told Mr Wike about the series of court judgments that affirmed Mr Abubakar’s status as substantive MD of AMML.
The contempt proceeding was against the allegation that the minister and others acting in disobedience to the orders of the industrial court made on July 20, restraining them from giving effect to the purported letter of termination of the employment of Abubakar as the AMML’s MD.
Justice R.B. Haastrup had restrained the defendants from giving effect to the termination of the employment of Mr Abubakar as the MD of AMML, which was contained in their letter dated July 17 until the hearing and determination of the counterpart motion on notice.
The judge also ordered the defendants not to, in any way, interfere in the management, business and corporate affairs of the AMML and that status quo ante be maintained until the counterpart motion on notice was heard and determined.
Justice Donatus Okorowo of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on July 10, in a judgment, restrained the FCT minister, the FCTA and others in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/499/2023 from dissolving and reconstituting the Board of AMML by political fiat or press statement, without first following the procedure of CAMA, 2020.
The court also affirmed Mr Abubakar as AMML’s MD.
Mr Khamagam, who said the AICL and FCTA had continued to insist on the termination of Mr Abubakar’s employment as contained in their July 17 letter, also said Mr Abbas had been parading himself as AMML acting MD against valid court orders and judgment.
“Engr. Yakubu Abbas himself has been parading himself as the acting MD of AMML and has been signing and issuing documents in that capacity, in the name of AMML, from unknown locations,” he alleged.
The AMML legal adviser and secretary, Felix Edache, also alleged that on Monday, the policemen from various commands stormed the AMML head office in Gudu on the order of the FCT police commissioner.
According to him, the real agenda unfolded later in the evening when they provided a memo from the FCTA signed by the general counsel, Salman Dako, purportedly written on behalf of the FCT minister asking the police commissioner to prevent Mr Abubakar, and the legal adviser from entering the office.