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Bench warrant against INEC chairman "very curious" - Group

Bench warrant against INEC chairman "very curious" - Group

- A group has condemned the arrest warrant issued on the INEC chairman by a court sitting in Abuja

- The election monitoring group described the bench warrant on Yakubu Mahmood as very curious

- According to the group, there is need for the National Judicial Council to beam their searchlight on the circumstances surrounding the case

An election monitoring group has expressed concern over a bench warrant issued on the chairman of the Independent National Elelctoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, by a Federal High Court in Abuja.

The Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group (ISDMG) described the warrant as "very curious."

In a statement by the executive director, Chima Amadi, the group urged the National Judicial Council (NJC) to beam their searchlight on the circumstances surrounding the case.

According to Amadi, the ISDMG's concern is informed by the fact that "four judges of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court had earlier turned down the case and returned the file to the Chief Judge before it was strangely assigned to the present vacation judge imported from the Taraba division, who gave the order."

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He said it is worrisome that against long standing practice that during vacation, only cases with some sort of urgency or affecting the fundamental rights of citizens, especially liberty, are attended to.

"One then asks the urgency in this matter which is still hanging in the Court after the Supreme Court had given a final judgment and was also called upon to interpret the judgment.

"This case predates the Mahmood Yakubu INEC leadership. It started in 2014 when Professor Jega was holding sway. The Supreme Court had determined who the rightful leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party for Anambra state was.

"Hence the matter should have been laid to rest but it is still purportedly alive because certain persons believe they have the powers to keep it alive to compensate paymasters for long periods of patronage.

"It is all the more curious that the chairman of INEC had earlier appealed against the order of the court summoning him to appear in person, yet this High Court Judge in spite of this went ahead to issue a bench warrant.

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"The attention of the judge was drawn to this fact of a pending appeal against his Order summoning the Chairman, yet he went ahead to issue the warrant. Order 4 Rule 11 of the Appeal Court Rules is clear on the actions a High Court can take when there is such a pending appeal."

Speaking further, Amadi said: “No order was enrolled and served on Professor Mahmood Yakubu for his personal appearance in court. The court did not give Professor Yakubu or his counsel opportunity to explain his absence in court and why the Bench warrant should not be issued."

He said it is also note worthy that the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Onnoghen, had personally commended this same INEC chairman as the most responsive agency of government in terms of compliance with orders of court.

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He said that this commendation by the CJN can only be appreciated when one checks the number of cases where orders are made and the electoral management body is bound to obey.

Meanwhile, previously reported that a Federal High Court Abuja on Wednesday, August 1, ordered a bench warrant against the chairman of INEC. The court in its ruling accused Yakubu of disobedience of its order.

Justice Stephen Pam who gave the order said Mahmoud to be arrested following his absence in court to explain why he should not be committed to prison for alleged contempt of court.

INEC officials Abuja court - TV

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