Court commences committal proceedings against INEC chief

The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has commenced committal proceedings against the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, for disobeying its judgment directing the Commission to issue a certificate of registration to Young Democratic Party as a duly registered political party as at May 2, 2015.
Already, Form 49 has been issued against Yakubu by the appellate court, commanding him to show cause why an order of committal to prison should not be made against him.
The party is pressing for an order committing Yakubu to prison for refusing or neglecting to obey the order of the Court of Appeal dated December 8, 2015, affirming and confirming the judgement of the trial court delivered on March 4, 2015 and dismissing the appeal by the electoral body.
The appellate court had in its judgement of December 8, 2015 granted all the reliefs of the party to the effect that it was deemed registered as a political party as at May 2, 2014 considering section 78 (4) of the Electoral Act.
The court, which dismissed the appeal by INEC, directed that its judgement and that of the lower court must be obeyed to the letter.
In a 16-paragraph affidavit in support of the contempt application, the National leader of YDP, Hon. Henry Nwabueze, deposed that the Court of Appeal had on December 8, 2015 delivered judgment in favour of the party to the effect that the appeal of the INEC lacks merit and was accordingly dismissed, while the judgement of the lower court delivered on March 4, 2015 was confirmed and affirmed.
The deponent averred that when INEC failed/refused and or neglected to obey the orders of the court, the applicant (YDP) caused Form 48 to be issued against INEC as notice of consequence of disobedience to court order.
In the supporting affidavit, the party stated that contrary to the judgement of both the lower court and the Court of Appeal, INEC issued a certificate of registration dated January 11, 2016 stating December 8, 2015 as the effective date the Young Democratic Party was registered as a political party, (instead of May 2, 2014 as was directed by the court).
The party through its counsel, Gordy Uche (SAN), wrote to INEC on two occasions (June 6, 2016 and June 20, 2016) drawing its attention to the anomaly in the date, yet the commission refused or neglected to effect the said correction to reflect compliance with the judgment and order of the Courts.
Besides, the applicant further averred that despite the service of Form 48 on INEC, it has failed/refused and still refusing to obey and give effect to the order of judgment of the court.
That it will amount to great disservice to the rule of law and the party if INEC/contemnor is allowed to ignore/disobey/or refuse to give effect to the order and judgement of the court.
The YDP had by a letter dated March 17, 2014 applied to INEC to be registered as a political party and was accordingly issued with a certificate of registration.
However, after the receipt of the application on April 1, 2014, INEC neglected or failed to inform the party of the success or otherwise of its application within the 30 days time frame stipulated by law, from the date of receipt of the application.
Consequently, the Commission ought to have issued the certificate of registration to the party on May 2, 2014 being the date it was deemed to have been registered as a political party by operation of law.
However, as a result of the continued failure or neglect by INEC to issue the party with a certificate of registration in compliance with Section 78(4) of the Electoral Act 2010, the YDP approached the Federal High Court sitting on Abuja in suit no: FHC/ABJ/ CS/ 736/2014.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed in his judgment delivered on March 4, 2015 granted all the reliefs sought in the amended originating summons of the plaintiff.
Specifically, the court in the said judgment, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeal, deemed the plaintiff to have been dully registered as a political party as at May 2, 2015 by operation of law.
Justice Mohammed held: “In fact, by the clear provisions of section 78(4) of the Act, the plaintiff was deemed registered as a political party at the time when exhibit F was written outside the 30 days stipulated by section 78(4) of the Act.”
Meantime, the Court of Appeal has fixed June 19, 2017 to hear the committal proceedings against the INEC Chairman.
Source: Today

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