Vanguard reports that Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Abuja is threatening to arrest Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The judge has therefore ordered that the electoral umpire and the chairman appear before the court on July 7 to tell the court why they would not be arrested for contempt. The contempt proceeding was initiated against them by Ejike Oguebego and Chuks Okoye, both chairman and legal adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra state respectively.
While ruling based on arguments, Justice Tsoho rejected the position of INEC’s lawyer, Adegboyega Awomolo, that that the contempt proceeding was civil and could be determined without the physical presence of Yakubu and INEC. According to the judge, contempt proceedings are always quasi-criminal and required the physical presence of the alleged contemnor in court to be heard.
Justice Tsoho who relied on the provisions of order 9, rule 14 of the Judgment Enforcement Rules, noted that it is 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. If such a person fails, a bench warrant could be issued against him. The judge said:
“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.”
Oguebego and Okoye are suing INEC and Yakubu for themselves and on behalf of other members of PDP’s executive committee in Anambra state. They accused INEC and Yakubu of refusing to obey the December 5, 2015 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja delivered by Justice Evoh Chukwu, which restrained INEC from accepting or receiving any delegate list or nominated candidates that may emerge from the congresses or primaries conducted by a caretaker committe, except those that emanate from the plaintiffs.