Anambra PDP: Court threatens to arrest INEC Chairman, Yakubu
A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and its Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu to appear before it to answer to contempt proceedings pending against them or risk arrest.
Justice John Tsoho gave the order, yesterday, in his ruling on arguments on whether or not the physical presence of INEC and its Chairman was necessary for the court to determine the contempt proceedings initiated against them by Ejike Oguebego and Chuks Okoye – Chairman and Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Anambra State respectively.
The judge rejected the argument by INEC, Yakubu’s lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) to the effect that the nature of the contempt proceedings against his client was civil and could be determined without their physical presence.
Justice Tsoho said whether civil or criminal, contempt proceedings are always quasi-criminal, which required the physical presence of the alleged contemnor in court for him/her to be heard on whether or not the order of committal should be made.
Relying on the provisions of Order 9, Rule 14 of the Judgment Enforcement Rules, Justice Tsoho said it was the duty of the court’s Registrar to issue and serve Forms 48 and 49 on a party in disobedience of court’s order for him/her to attend court, failing which a bench warrant may be issued against him/her to attend court and show cause.
“I hold that the alleged contemnors are under obligation to appear before this court to show cause why an order of committal should not be made against them,” the judge said.
Justice Tsoho, who specifically directed the alleged contemnors to present themselves in court on Thursday (July 7), said a bench warrant will be issued for their arrest .
Oguebego and Okoye, who are suing for themselves and on behalf of other members of the Executive Committee of the PDP, Anambra State, are accusing INEC and Mahmood of refusing to obey the December 5, 2015 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja delivered by Justice Evoh Chukwu.
Justice Chukwu had, in the fifth order as contained in the judgment, restrained INEC, its agents, among others “from accepting or receiving any delegate list or nominated candidates that may emerge from the congresses or primaries conducted by the caretaker committee set up by the 1st defendant (PDP) for the Anambra PDP, except those that emanate from the plaintiffs.”
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