Friday 13 January 2023


By: Valentine Adese (JP),

Plateau State High Court presided over by, Hon. Justice A. Ashoms has ordered, Mr. John Gabriel Mallo and Mr. Bulus Mandor to go to Prison for being in contempt of Court Orders in respect to Butura Stool in Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau State.

The Court in its Ruling and Judgment today in a Committal Proceeding brought against, Hon. Dayabu Garga (the incumbent Chairman of Kanam Local Government Council), Mr. John Gabriel Mallo, Mr. Bulus Mandor, Mr. Monday Adachin and Mr. James Yilnaan by Masok Malo, Malo Matawal and Enock Kamo, insisted that, Court Orders must be protected.

While ruling on the Attorney-General’s entering of a Nulle Prosecue in the matter, the Court which discountenanced the application of the A-G said, giving effect to it would make the Court naked and robbed of its power.

Hon. Justice Ashom, who took several hours in his judgment to distinguish between a Criminal Case and a Quasi Criminal Case, held that, the Committal case before him arose out of a Civil matter and the contempt is not against the claimants, but against the Court and its Orders which must be protected.


However, Mr. Monday Adachin (3rd Respondent) Hon. Dayabu Garga (the incumbent Chairman of Kanam Local Government Council) 4th Respondent, and Mr. James Yilnaan (5th Respondent) were set off the hook by the Court on the ground that, they were not directly linked to the act and contempt.


While reacting to the ruling and judgment of Court, M. A. Dawam (Esq), Counsel for the Claimants/Judgment Creditors said, “This is victory for us once more and for Justice because, this is a reinforcement of judicial principles. It also reestablished the sanctity to the Orders of Court.

“It is a pointer that, nobody should temper with the positive Orders of Court and goes free. Beyond anything, we thought that this day will not come, but eventually despite the long period, today we have a judgment.

“There are two distinctive issues that we found very interesting and victorious. First, is the settlement in the ruling that the Plateau state Attorney General (A-G) to enter Nulle Prosecue in a Civil Matter, especially when the Contempt of the Orders of Court in Civil Matters are concerned.

“My lord, has painstakingly stated the position and the legal principle and beyond any else, it would have been otherwise very bad if the AG was allowed the power to stall or truncate the punishment that would have meted out to persons who are in contempt of the positive Orders of Court. but here, the court said, the judicial powers available to the court cannot be truncated by either the Legislature or the Executive.

“So, I am sure it has set parameters of engagement among the three arms of government with regard to the operations of the rule of law”.

You would recall that, REALITY had reported that, The Attorney-General of Plateau State had filed a Nulle Prosecue to stop an ongoing quasi criminal proceeding in an alleged “Court Contempt” before the Plateau State High Court, presided over by Hon. Justice A. Ashom, in favour of, Hon. Dayabu Garga (the incumbent Chairman of Kanam Local Government Council), Mr. John Gabriel Mallo, Mr. Bulus Mandor, Mr. Monday Adachin and Mr. James Yilnaan.

During the course of adopting their written addresses before the Court, the Respondents through their Counsels, had urged the Court to give effect to the Nulle Prosecue filed by the Attorney General of the State.

The Counsels had cited Section 211, which in part reads as follows: “The Attorney General of a state shall have power: (a) to institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person before any court in Nigeria other than a court-martial in respect of any offence created by or under any law of the House of assembly; (b)take over and continue any such criminal proceedings that may have been instituted by any other authority or person; and (c) discontinue at any stage before judgment is delivered any such criminal proceedings instituted or undertaken by him or any other authority or person”.

However, in his submission, S. S. Obende (Esq), Counsel to the Claimant Applicant/Judgment Creditor, leading other two Lawyers, while adopting his written address before the Court, had told the Court that, the criminal proceeding arose from a civil matter and therefore quasi in nature and that the Attorney-General has no powers anywhere to stop such proceedings, while also citing Section 211(1c) to backup.

He said, “In furtherance of the Application of the Claimant/Judgment Creditor, on the 1st of December, 2022, we filed a written address on a sole issue, which is whether the Attorney-General can enter a Nulle Prosecue on a Civil Matter?”

S. S. Obende, who told the Court that the Claimant filed a composite reply on point of Law, urged the Court to enter judgment in favour of the Judgment Creditor, saying that, “The A-G cannot exercise the powers conferred on him in section 211 to terminate the prosecution of Court Contempt in a Civil Matter”.

It is of note that, the Constitution in Section 211, added that, “The powers conferred upon the Attorney General of a state under subsection 1 of this section may be exercised by him in person or through officers of his department.

“In exercising his powers under this section, the Attorney General of a state shall have regard to the public interest, the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process”.

You would also recall that, the contempt arose out of not giving effect(s) to the judgment and orders of the former Chief judge, Hon. Justice Dakwak (Rtd), in suit No: PLD/J/284/2001, which was between: Masok Mallo Tagbeng, Malo Matawal and Enock Kamo, who sued for themselves and on behalf the Dyak ruling house of Butura (and now judgment creditors) vs Bokkos LGC of Plateau State, Bokkos Local Government Traditional Council, Bureau for Local Government & Chieftaincy Affairs, Plateau State, Joro Yak, Mr. Joseph Mahannan Dikop, Mr. Magit Mandik and Mr. Samuel M. Doy.

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