Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Stephen Pam of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court yesterday held that his order of August 1 to the police to arrest and produce the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu in court to explain why he should not be committed to prison over alleged disobedience to order of the court remained valid.
Justice Pam ordered that the police must arrest and produce Yakubu in court on August 16, the next adjourned date.
Justice Pam had on August 1, issued a bench warrant against the INEC chief, following his failure to appear before the court on three occasions to defend himself in the contempt charge brought against him by Ejike Oguebego and Chuks Okoye, Chairman and Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Anambra State chapter, respectively.
Based on the first order, the police was supposed to produce Yakubu in court on August 8.
However, the INEC boss wasnot in court on the said date, forcing the court to adjourn to August 14 with the court again affirming its earlier order of August 1.
However, when the matter came up yesterday, the INEC chairman was not in court to show cause why he should not be committed to prison over contempt of court allegation.
His counsel neither appeared nor sent a message to the court to explain his absence.
However, counsel to the plaintiffs, Kanayo Okafor, informed the court of the ruling of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal on August 13, which ordered a stay of execution of the warrant of arrest, as well as the proceedings at the trial court.
In a short ruling, Justice Pam held that the court is a court of record and as such would require the ruling or judgment of the appellate court, adding that there is no proof of such decision of the higher court before him.
“This court being a court of record, has nothing to prove that there was an order for stay from the Court of Appeal”, the judge held.
Justice Pam, subsequently adjourned to August 16 for the police to produce Yakubu in court for the trial.
On August 13, the Court of Appeal, Abuja, restrained the police from arresting the INEC chief based on the orders of Justice Pam.
The court also halted Yakubu’s trial at the lower court, pending the determination of the appeal filed by Yakubu.