Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has stopped the warrant of arrest issued against the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, by Justice Stephen Pam of the Federal High Court. .
Justice Pam, drafted from the Taraba Division, is hearing the contempt proceeding based on a fiat granted him by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdul Kafarati.
A 3-man panel led by Justice Abdul Aboki, suspended the enforcement of the arrest warrant in a ruling it delivered on Monday, in an appeal filed by Prof Mahmood, challenging the order made by Justice Pam for his arrest.
The appeal marked CA/A/765/2018, was filed by Prof Yakubu Mahmood and the INEC, against Ejike Oguebego and Chuks Okoye, Chairman and legal adviser respectively, of Anambra State Peoples Democratic Party.
The appeal emanated from an order summoning Prof Mahmood, and another ordering the Inspector General of Police, to arrest and produce the INEC chairman in court for his refusal to obey court orders.
Justice Pam had on July 5, dismissed a preliminary objection and a motion challenging jurisdiction to hear the contempt proceeding filed by Prof Mahmood.
However, Justice Pam said he would not deliver judgment on the contempt proceeding in the absence of the alleged contemnor.
Following the service of Form 49 on Prof Mahmood, the court summoned him to show cause why he should not be committed to prison for disobeying the order of the court made on December 5, 2014, restraining him from accepting or receiving or according recognition to any list of nominated candidates for elective posts for the Senate, House of Representatives and House of Assembly of Anambra state in the 2015 general elections except those that emanated from the plaintiffs, which order was affirmed by the Supreme Court on January 29, 2016.
Meanwhile, Justice Aboki held that since the matter has been adjourned to September 17, for hearing of the main appeal, “it will be prejudicial for the trial court to proceed with hearing of the matter scheduled for August 14.
Consequently, the panel unanimously ordered the stay of proceeding pending the hearing of Prof Mahmood’s appeals.
According to Justice Aboki, “Both sides agreed that they have not filed briefs of argument. Parties have also agreed that the applications cannot be taken without going into issues raised in the main appeal.
In view of these, Justice held that the proper thing to do was to adjourn to enable the panel consider issues raised in the main appeal and those in the applications.
“In the circumstances, the proper order to make is to adjourn both the applications and the main appeal to a later date” Justice Aboki stated.
The appellate panel reasoned that “since the trial court was aware that an appeal had been entered and considering the legality of the warrant of arrest, it will be prejudicial to the appeal for the court below to continue with the matter.
“We therefore stay execution of the warrant of arrest pending the determination of the motion on notice which will be taken together with the main appeal” Justice Aboki held.
Consequently, he adjourned to September 17 for hearing and determination of the appeal.
Recall that Justice Pam had on July 5, made an order summoning the INEC boss to appear in court on July 10, to show cause why he should not be committed to prison for contempt of court.
The judge made the order while ruling on a preliminary objection and a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the court to hear the contempt proceeding.
Following Mahmood’s refusal to honour the summons, Justice Pam, on July 10, ordered him to appear in court, on August 1, again he refused.
On August 1, the court said it has exhausted its patience and consequently granted a bench warrant against Prof Mahmood, insisting that he must appear in court on August 8.
Apparently miffed by Mahmood’s absence in court, Justice Pam had reinforce his order by ordering the Inspector General of Police to arrest and produce the INEC boss in court on August 14.
Nevertheless, Mahmood is challenging the validity of the process leading to the bench warrant, as well as seeking stay of its execution and setting aside of the order of arrest made by the trial court.
– Culled From Independent