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
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
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
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
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
“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 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
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.