• Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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Court orders arrest of INEC chairman for contempt of court

Court orders arrest of INEC chairman for contempt of court

A Federal High Court Abuja, on Wednesday, ordered the arrest of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Yakubu Mahmoud, for contempt of court.
Justice Stephen Pam who gave the order said the INEC chairman has consistently disobeyed court order to appear before it to show cause why he should not be committed to prison for allegedly refusing to recognise Ejike Oguebego as the rightful chairman of Anambra State PDP.

Oguebego had filed a contempt charge against INEC and its chairman for their refusal to recognise him as PDP chairman in Anambra State in compliance with the Supreme Court judgment of December 2014.

At the resumed hearing yesterday, counsel to Mahmoud, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) informed the court that Mahmoud was not in the court because he was attending an important national assignment in Mali.

Read also: I would have resigned, if I were Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman Shelle

The court faulted the letter by Awomolo, dated July 27 to take excuse for the contemnor on the grounds that the defendant had written through the Executive Secretary of INEC, adding that the letter of Awomolo dated contradicted that of INEC dated July 29.

The grouse of the judge was that Awomolo claimed in his letter of July 27 that he had been notified in writing that his client will not appear in court because of the Mali trip, whereas the INEC letter relied upon by Awomolo was dated July 29, 2018.

Consequently, the judge ordered that the INEC chairman be arrested for his persistent refusal to appear in court and adjourned further proceedings to August 8.

The court in a short ruling held that it can no longer tolerate the continued absence of the defendant in the court.

Justice Pam dismissed the reason advanced by Mahmoud that he was unable to appear in court as ordered because he was leading a team of electoral officers from ECOWAS states to Mali and that the assignment was crucial.

Justice Pam, who was visibly angry at the refusal of INEC chief to appear before him said that the court will not fold its hands and allow it to be turned into a toothless dog by the defendant.

“It is sad that the contemnor and his senior counsel has chosen not to obey the order of this court in respect of this contempt charge.

“The contempt of the contemnor to this court can no longer be tolerated and he should not be allowed to continue to take court for granted,” he said.

The judge therefore ordered that the INEC chairman be arrested for his refusal to attend court sessions and adjourned further proceedings to August 8.