The Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group (ISDMG) has expressed concern over the circumstances surrounding the Bench Warrant issued the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The group in a statement by its executive director, Dr Chima Amadi described the warrant as “very curious”
Amadi therefore urged the National Judicial Council (NJC) to beam their searchlight on the circumstances surrounding the case.
Recall that a Vacation Judge of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had on Wednesday issued a Bench Warrant against the INEC chairman.
But the ISDMG boss said his group’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.”
According to him, it is also worrying 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.
He said, “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.”
Explaining further, Amadi said, “This case predates the Mahmood Yakubu INEC leadership. It started in 2014 when Prof. 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.
“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 argues that “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.
According to Amadi, it is worthy of note 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.
He stressed that this commendation can only be appreciated when one checks the number of cases where Orders are made and the Electoral Management Body is bound to obey.
He said further, “We therefore call on the National Judicial Council to beam their searchlight on the circumstances surrounding this case, the several untoward things subsisting around it and guarantee justice so as not to throw the entire country into unprecedented commotion because of the inordinate quest for unmerited power by some politicians who have backing of certain persons in high places.”