From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday summoned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and its Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to appear before it on Thursday over the contempt proceedings against them.
Justice John Tsoho gave the order when he ruled on arguments on whether or not the physical presence of INEC and Yakubu was necessary for the court to determine the contempt proceedings against them by Ejike Oguebego and Chuks Okoye – Chairman and Legal Adviser of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Anambra State.
He refused the argument by lawyer to INEC and Yakubu, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) that the nature of the contempt charge was civil and could be determined without their physical presence.
But the judge said whether civil or criminal, contempt proceedings are always quasi-criminal, which required the physical presence of the alleged contemnor in court for him/her to be heard on whether or not the order of committal should be made.
Relying on the provisions of Order 9 Rule 14 of the Judgment Enforcement Rules, Justice Tsoho said it was 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, failing which a bench warrant may be issued against him/her to attend court and show cause.
“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,” Justice Tsoho ruled.
Justice Tsoho, who directed the alleged contemnors to present themselves in court on Thursday (July 7), said a bench warrant would be issued for their arrest should they refuse to attend court on Thursday.
Oguebego and Okoye, who are suing for themselves and on behalf of other members of the Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are accusing INEC and Yakubu of refusing to obey December 5, 2015 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja delivered by Justice Evoh Chukwu.