A National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja has ordered Mr Ivara Ebetan, Director-General, National Gallery of Art, to appear before it for alleged contempt of court.
Justice Oyebiola Oyewumi, on Thursday, directed Ebetan to appear before her to show cause why he should not be committed to prison for allegations bordering on contempt of court.
The development followed a suit filed by an aggrieved staff of the organisation, Mr Eze Justus Obizue, a deputy director, Education Service.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the claimant, in the originating summons marked NIC/ABJ/204/2022, sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the director-general from taking “further acts of executive recklessness, aggression and prejudices against him,” among others.
In the suit, Obizue sued the organisation, the Board of Management, the Director-General, and Mr Bayo A. Kazeem, among others.
The court had, on July 21, ordered the defendants to be present in court on July 25 to show cause as to why they should not be restrained and for parties to maintain the status quo until the hearing of the motion on notice filed by the claimant.
However, counsel to the claimant, Valentine Obiajolu, who held the brief of his principal, Anthony Itedjere, drew the attention of the court to the fact that the 3rd defendant, Mr Ebetan, has taken further steps against the claimant.
Obiajolu alleged that Ebetan had refused to pay Obizue his salaries for June, July; August and September 2022 and also removed his desk and personal effects from his office in Abuja.
The lawyer further informed the court, in a 16-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion, that the director-general had directed that backdated letters be issued to his client on the subject of litigation in this suit.
He further drew the attention of the court to an offensive publication by the defendants against his client.
The said offensive publication accused the claimant of indecent assault, defilement of a minor, sexual harassment and malicious damage, amongst others.
After listening to the submissions of Obiajolu concerning Form 48, which is the notice of consequences of disobedience to the order of the court, Justice Oyewumi ordered Mr Ebetan to present himself in court on the next adjourned date to show cause why contempt proceedings should not be made against him.
The judge fixed Nov. 29 for a hearing.