Court Adjourns INEC Chairman’s Trial Indefinitely

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    Alex Enumah in Abuja

    A Federal High Court in Abuja, has adjourned indefinitely the trial in the contempt charge brought against the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu.

    Justice Stephen Pam adjourned the trial to a date that would be communicated to parties in the suit by the authorities of the Federal High Court.

    Although, the INEC chief was ordered to appear in court personally to show cause why he should not be committed to prison for violating the court order, he was however, represented by a legal practitioner, Samuel Omale.
    Omale informed Justice Pam that the ruling of the Court of Appeal which stayed the execution of the bench warrant issued against Yakubu was ready for service on parties.

    He subsequently served the appellate court ruling on Emmanuel Okoye, who stood for the applicants in the contempt matter.

    In a short ruling, Justice Pam adjourned the trial pending the hearing of the appeal slated for September 17 at the appellate court. However, counsel to the applicants requested a specific date for the hearing of the matter, arguing that section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), does not allow a stay of proceedings in a criminal matter. Justice Pam, subsequently adjourned the matter and informed the parties that a date for continuation of the trial shall be communicated to them, when the court resumes from its annual vacation in September.

    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, Anambra State Chairman and Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), respectively.
    Based on the first order, the Inspector General of Police (IG) was supposed to arrest and produce Yakubu in court on August 8.

    However, the INEC chairman was not 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.
    But neither Yakubu nor his counsel was in court to explain why he should not be committed to prison over alleged disobedience to order on the last adjourned date of August 14.

    Though counsel to the plaintiffs Kanayo Okafor, had informed the court of the ruling 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, Justice Pam had to adjourned to yesterday on the grounds that there were no proof of the appellate decision before it.

    Justice Pam, subsequently adjourned to August 16 (yesterday) for the police to produce Yakubu in court for the trial.

    Following the service of Form 49 on Yakubu, the lower court had summoned him to show cause why he should not be committed to prison for having disobeyed the order of the court made on December 5, 2014, restraining him from accepting or receiving or according recognition to any list of nominated candidates for elective posts for the Senate, House of Representatives and House of Assembly of Anambra State in the 2015 general election, except those that emanated from the plaintiffs, which order was affirmed by the Supreme Court on January 29, 2016.