A mild drama ensued at the Ogun State Judicial Panel of Investigation sitting at the Magistrate Court 1, Isabo, Abeokuta, on Monday when a police officer, Sergeant Adeleke Olalekan was allegedly caught committing contempt against a Panel member right from his seat.
The incident reportedly happened when Olalekan’s superior officer, CSP Gbenga Megbope, who was in charge of the defunct SARS at Obada Oko, Abeokuta was being cross-examined concerning a petition before the panel.
Olalekan who had accompanied Megbope to the court was allegedly caught pointing at one of panel members and spoke disrespectfully in a manner suggestive of threat from the gallery where he sat in the courtroom.
The police sergeant who was in mufti when called up to explain his action was tongue-tied, he was booked for appropriate punishment as stipulated under the Commission of Inquiry law.
Reeling out the law against the offender, the Panel Chairman, Justice Solomon Olugbemi (retd) said he had committed contempt of court and would be made to face the law at a magistrate court.
He said, “Any act of disrespect, insult or threat to the Commissioners or any Panel members while sitting in Commission or any act of disrespect, insult or threat to a Commissioner or Panel members at any other time or place on account of his proceedings in his capacity as a Commissioner or Panel member shall be deemed to be an act of contempt within the meaning of this law under Section 16 of the same law”.
Reading further, the Chairman revealed that, “any person who commits an act of contempt, whether the act is or is not committed in the presence of the Commissioners sitting in Commission, such person or persons shall be liable to summary conviction before a court of competent jurisdiction to be convicted and punished according to the tenet stipulated in the law.”
However, the panel member who was disrespected, pleaded that the alleged offender be pardoned, having apologised, prostrated and pleaded for mercy and showed remorse.
The Panel thus refrained from recommending him for trial.
Justice Olugbemi warned that the panel would no longer tolerate any act of disrespect to it or any of its members as the law would be allowed to take its course in any such further act.