Prof Mahmood Yakubu

Court Orders Arrest Of INEC Chairman For Contempt

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, issued a bench warrant

for the arrest of Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission

(INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, for “flagrant” disobedience of court

orders.

Justice Stephen Pam gave the order following Yakubu’s absence in court

for the third time to answer to contempt charges.

Justice Pam had on July 5 and July 10 ordered Mahmood to appear in

court and show cause why he should not be sent to prison for contempt

of court.

At the resumed hearing in the case on Wednesday, Mr Adegboyega Awomolo

(SAN), counsel to Mahmood, told the court that his client was absent

in court because he was attending an urgent national assignment in

Mali.

In a short ruling, the judge held that the reason for Mahmood’s

absence was not tenable, because he had three times, refused to honour

the court’s summons to defend the contempt charge against him.

The charges were brought against the chairman by Mr Ejike Oguebego for

his refusal to recognise him as Chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic

Party (PDP) in Anambra in compliance with a Supreme Court judgment of

December, 2014.

Pam said that the court would not fold its hands and allow a party who

was a professor of law to turn it into a toothless dog.

“It is sad that the contemnor and his counsel, a senior lawyer, have

chosen not to obey the orders of this court in respect of this

contempt charge.

“The contempt of the contemnor to this court can no longer be

tolerated and it should not be allowed to fester,” the judge said.

The judge faulted the letter by Awomolo dated July 27 making excuse

for Mahmood’s absence in court on grounds that it contradicted another

letter by his client dated July 29.

He consequently ordered that Mahmood should be arrested for his

flagrant disobedience of court orders by refusing to appear in court,

and adjourned the matter until Aug. 8

“A bench warrant is hereby issued against Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, INEC

Chairman; this repeated act of disobedience to court order to show

cause can no longer be accepted by this court.”

Earlier, the court had struck out a fresh motion filed by Awomolo on

July 31 for stay of proceedings pending the outcome of an appeal on

the matter.

The judge struck out the motion on grounds that it contravened Section

360 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), which did

not allow a stay of proceedings in a criminal matter.

It will be recalled that Oguebego had initiated contempt proceedings

against the INEC Chairman for refusing to comply with a Supreme Court

judgment of December, 2014 to recognise him as PDP chairman in

Anambra.

Counsel to Oguebego, Mr James Odiba, had prayed the court to commit

Mahmood to prison for not obeying the order.

He had told the court that on the contrary, INEC and its chairman were

relating with another faction of the PDP in Anambra.

In an interview after the ruling, Awomolo told newsmen that the

judgment on which the contempt proceeding was initiated, was delivered

in 2014 when Mahmood was not yet INEC chairman.

Odiba said that government was a continuum and that it behoved on

whoever was in office to obey the judgment.

According to him, no one is above the law.