By Taiye Agbaje
A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, ordered the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to supply the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) with the certified true copy (CTC) of biodata information of David Ukpo for onward transmission to the UK.
Justice Inyang Ekwo gave the order following an omnibus application made by Muazu Mohammed, counsel for NIMC, to the effect.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on June 27, reported that former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and wife, Beatrice had, in the application dated and filed on June 27 by their lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, sued NIMC and four others.
Others mentioned in the suit are the Comptroller General (C-G), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS); Stanbic-IBTC Bank; United Bank of Africa (UBA) and Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc as 2nd to 5th respondents respectively.
NAN reports that the couple were, on June 23, remanded in the UK police custody, after they were arraigned before the Uxbridge Magistrate Court for alleged conspiracy to facilitate the travel of Ukpo, alleged to be a minor, for organ harvesting.
They, however, denied the allegations and the court adjourned till July 7 for hearing.
Ekweremadu also appeared before the Uxbridge Magistrate Court on June 30 where he was denied a bail.
In the originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/984/2022, the couple prayed the court for an order directing all the defendants to supply them with the CTC of Ukpo’s biodata in their care for the purpose of facilitating the criminal investigation and tendering same to establish their innocence with respect to Ukpo’s age in the criminal charges against them before the Uxbridge Magistrate Court.
Justice Ekwo, on Friday, granted the couple’s prayers by directing all the defendants to release the CTC of Ukpo’s biodata to the Ekweremadus.
But when the matter came up today, Awomolo told the court that NIMC was yet to comply with the court order.
The senior lawyer expressed concern that failure to obey the order of the court would give a setback to court judgment.
“As ministers in the temple, court has given a judgment, ours is to ensure it is followed,” he said.
Responding, Mohammed said NIMC was reluctant to release Ukpo’s biodata because it wanted to protect its system.
“It is not that the first respondent (NIMC) is not ready to comply. We have been talking with applicants’ counsel since the day of judgement,” he said.
“What is the difficulty you are facing in complying with that order,” the judge asked.
“The difficulty is that we want to protect the system. If we comply with this judgment, the system will suffer in the future my lord,” he said.
Mohammed said although NIMC had reached 90 per cent compliance with the order, the commission was constraint to release the biodata to the applicants because of the Act which set up the agency.
He said the law does not allow the commission to release an individual biodata to another individual.
The lawyer stressed that if this was done because the applicants were highly-placed persons, this might be abused in future.
The judge, however, said that the order was not made because the applicants were high-placed.
He said the judgment was made for the whole of the country, saying it could have been an ordinary Nigerian making the application and that the court is there to protect everyone.
“If you need an order of court to carry out the judgment, it is a simple application,” Ekwo added.
Mohammed, therefore, made an omnibus prayer, urging the court to direct the agency to supply the biodata information of Ukpo to the AGF.
Awomolo did not oppose the application.
“We agree that the document be transmitted to the AGF for onward transmission to the UK,” he said.
In his ruling, Justice Ekwo ordered NIMC to supply the information of biodata of David Ukpo’s national identification number which is in its care to the AGF for onward transmission to the UK.
“This is the order of this court,” he said.
The judge also warned the lawyer against making use of social media to discuss court matters
“When matter is in court, you must be careful how you deploy social media about court matters,” he warned.