After repeatedly snubbing a High Court judgment and order of appearance, the Chairman Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has lodged a complaint to set aside a court pronouncement ordering his arrest for contempt of court.
President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, has constituted a special panel to hear an appeal seeking to set aside the bench warrant that directed the Nigeria Police Force to arrest the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, for disobeying court orders.
A vacation Judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Justice Stephen Pam, had on August 1, ordered Prof. Yakubu’s arrest, following his repeated refusal to honour a summon issued to him to appear before the court to defend a contempt charge against him.
The trial court further re-activated the order last Wednesday, even as it specifically directed the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to ensure that the INEC boss was arrested and produced in court on Tuesday.
Yakubu had on four adjourned dates failed to appear in court to answer to the contempt proceeding initiated against him by Anambra State Chapter of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, led by its Chairman and Legal Adviser, Chief Ejike Oguebego, and Chuks Okoye, respectively.
The INEC boss was alleged to have snubbed a Supreme Court judgment that mandated him to only recognise the list of Senatorial and House of Representatives candidates submitted by the Oguebego-led faction of the PDP in Anambra State.
Meantime, the three-man special panel of the appellate court has already issued hearing notice for all the parties to appear before it today with respect to an appeal the INEC Chairman lodged against the order for his arrest.
The development came as a group of legal practitioners under the aegis of Lawyers Against Impunity, LAI, yesterday, berated the INEC boss for his alleged refusal to honour the summon extended to him by the high court.
The group said it was concerned that a man expected by Nigerians to conduct a credible, free and fair election in 2019, conducted himself in a manner that placed his integrity and respect for rule of law to question.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, Coordinator of the group, Mr. Ekanem Udom, wondered about the reason for the urgency in hurriedly setting up a panel to sit on Yakubu’s appeal against a subsisting summon against him.
He said: “By disobeying a valid court order made on July 5, the INEC chairman, Prof Yakubu Mahmood, is not a proper and fit person to preside over the 2019 general elections.
“His refusal to appear in court to show cause why he should not be committed to prison over contempt is an affront on the country’s judiciary.
“This act by a man Nigerians are believing in to conduct a general election has cast aspersions on his integrity and respecter of law and order.“
According to the group, if the INEC Chairman can disregard a court summon, to the extent that the court ran out of patience and wielded the big stick by issuing a warrant of arrest on him, it then means that he sees himself as being above the law.
It said: “This implies that the INEC chairman can do whatever he likes in 2019 general elections and damn the consequences, since he knows how to manipulate his way out of the dangers inherent in not obeying a valid court order.”