The Supreme Court has upheld the 30-day prison sentence of Alex Okoh, former Director-General (DG) of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), for failing to obey an order in 2012.
In the judgment delivered on Friday, the apex court also awarded N20 million cost against Okoh and BPE in favour of BFIGroup, a Nigerian-American consortium.
In December 2019, Anwuli Chikere, Judge of a Federal High Court in Abuja, ordered the arrest and imprisonment of Okoh.
The Judge accused Okoh of serial disobedience of the Supreme Court order over the ownership controversy of the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON).
BFIG had won the bid to take over ALSCON in 2004 but was disqualified by the BPE under the leadership of Okoh.
In 2012, the Supreme Court declared BFIG the rightful winner of the bid for ALSCON but the BPE refused to hand over ownership to the firm.
BFIG initiated a contempt suit against the BPE and Okoh, its DG, for failing to obey the supreme court order.
However, 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.
The Federal High Court held that the continued refusal of Okoh to obey the Supreme Court order was a fundamental violation of the rule of law, which portrayed the government as lawless.
In January 2022, the Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of the Federal High Court.
APPEAL AT SUPREME COURT
Dissatisfied with the court of appeal decision, the BPE filed an appeal before the Supreme Court.
However, the appeal was dismissed on Friday.
Aside from the N20 million fine, the apex court issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining BPE from going into any negotiations or contract with any other investor over the sale of the Federal Government equity in ALSCON.
Also, the court ordered the immediate sack from the plant of UC RUSAL, a Russian firm, that the BPE handed over the plant to after cancelling the declaration of BFIG as winner of the bid.
Meanwhile, early in January, President Bola Tinubu sacked Okoh from office as BPE DG