Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mamud Yakubu, on Thursday failed to show up at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal holding at the Court of Appeal, Abuja.
Yakubu was on Wednesday ordered by the tribunal to appear before it unfailingly on Thursday, July 18 by 12 noon.
Yakubu was to appear along with the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Zamfara State, having been subpoenaed by the tribunal to present some documents used in the conduct of the February 23 presidential election.
However, at about 11.50am Thursday when the tribunal stood down the Peoples Democratic Movement’s (PDM) proceedings to prepare ruling in an application, neither Yakubu nor the Zamfara REC were in court.
The counsel to the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar and the PDP, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), in their separate petitions against President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory at the presidential poll, drew the court’s attention to the directive made on Wednesday regarding the subpoena on the INEC boss.
“Is the chairman here now?” Justice Mohammed Garba asked the counsel to INEC, Yunus Usman (SAN), in response to Uche’s request.
Usman however assured the tribunal that they are working round the clock and that before 12 noon they will comply with the court’s order.
At the end of proceedings in the PDM’s petition, Uche again reminded the tribunal that the INEC boss was yet to appear in court.
Responding, Usman told the tribunal that the order of the court was to the “effect that documents should be produced, not that any person should appear before the tribunal”.
Usman further told Justice Garba that the order of the tribunal has been fully complied with with the tendering of the said subpoenaed documents.
The documents, which were brought to court, were accompanied by a written letter to that effect to the chairman of the tribunal.
Uche while commending Usman for the efforts, however requested a copy of the letter to enable him ascertain if the documents were complete and same as the ones requested.
Justice Garba, had on Wednesday, issued the order following complains by Atiku that his petition against the election of President Buhari was been sabotaged by the INEC chief following his refusal to appear before the tribunal to tender some unnamed documents.
Atiku through his counsel, Uche, had complained to the tribunal that Yakubu and the INEC Commissioner in Zamfara have been frustrating him in the 10-day hearing notice given to him by the tribunal to substantiate his allegations and claims in his petition jointly filed with the PDP.
The petitioners had filed two applications on July 9 seeking an order of court to compel the INEC chairman to physically appear before the tribunal and present certain documents listed by the petitioners and the Zamfara REC to produce the election results for Zamfara State in the presidential poll.
While that of the chairman was served on him on July 15, that of the Zamfara REC was served on him on July 12.
The counsel to the petitioners, Uche, had on resumption of proceedings on Wednesday lamented that the commission was yet to respond to the tribunal’s subpoena served on the chairman and the Zamfara REC.
Responding, the counsel to INEC, Yunus Usman (SAN), told the tribunal that he was not aware of the subpoena on Yakubu but that of the Zamfara REC has been complied with, adding that they are waiting for the petitioners to pay the normal fee and collect the said documents.
But in a short ruling, the presiding justice of the five-man panel held that orders of court are sacrosanct and must be obeyed.
“Since the record of the court shows that the chairman of the 1st respondents INEC and Zamfara REC were duly served to produce documents named therein, the chairman and Zamfara REC as the legal team representing them in this matter are to comply with the order,” the tribunal held.
According to the chairman, the record of the court showed that Yakubu was served on July 15 and the Zamfara REC on July 12, but were yet to respond to the subpoena.
“They have not done so and there is no document to show.
“We note that the INEC chairman and REC were asked to produce documents on the day they were served, that is impossible.
“They have been directed to produce documents in the subpoena by 12 noon tomorrow,” he said.