BREAKING: Comply with Court Order or be Jailed – Judge to INEC Chairman, others
Justice Mohammed Madugu of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Bwari has ordered the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Yakubu Mahmood and ex-factional Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance, Chief Victor Oye, to purge themselves of contempt of court.
The judge gave both individuals a deadline of 14 days or face the full wrath of the law.
Justice Madugu gave the order in a judgement on a committal proceeding (Form 49) which was drawn from a motion on notice, marked FCT/HC/CV/4068/2023, filed against Chief Victor Oye and the INEC Chairman by Otunba Camaru Lateef Ogidan (the National Vice Chairman, South West Geopolitical Zone of APGA) and Alhaji Rabiu Mustapha (the National Welfare Officer of APGA), two APGA National Working Committee members who emerged at the APGA Owerri Convention of May 31, 2019, under the leadership of the National Chairman of APGA, Chief Edozie Njoku.
The applicants had sought an order of the court to commit the INEC Chairman and Victor Oye to prison for disobeying the valid order of the court made on May 10, which had restrained Oye and APGA from conducting Ward, Local Government, State Congresses and Convention.
The motion was filed on behalf of the APGA officials by Michael Ajara and Panam Ntui.
Justice Madugu had on May 10, 2023, ordered the INEC Chairman and Oye, parties in the suit, “to maintain status quo ante bellum” pending the hearing of the notice of preliminary objection filed on May 9, 2023, by the 1st Defendant/Applicant (Oye).
“For the avoidance of doubt and for the purpose of clarity, parties herein, whether by themselves, agents, privies, assigns, authorized representatives or whosoever acting on their behalf are restrained from holding the planned Congresses, National Convention or any other meetings or gatherings in whatever name called of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) pending the hearing of notice of preliminary objection filed on May 9, 2023 by the 1st Defendant/Applicant,” Justice Madugu ordered.
Despite the unambiguous words of the court, Oye went ahead and conducted the Congresses under the supervision of the INEC later in May.
Delivering judgment, Justice Madugu held that, having not appealed the order made on May 10, the INEC Chairman and Oye, “were in contempt of court”.
“A court does not make an order in vain; a court order must be disobeyed. Disobedience to a valid court order undermines the integrity and sanctity of the court.
“This insanity of flouting court order must stop, and it cannot continue. The disobedience to the order made by this court on May 10, is undoubtedly an affront on the sanctity of the court,” Justice Madugu stated.
The Justice, therefore, ordered the 1st Respondent (Oye) and 2nd Respondent (INEC Chairman) to purge themselves of contempt of court within 14 days or face the full wrath of the court.
In reaction to the order, Ajara said the court was trying to be lenient by giving the Respondents 14 days to Clare themselves of the contempt charge.
“The only way is for them to undo what they did and obey the order made on May 10, failure which will land them in jail.”