Justice Stephen Pam of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, insisted that the embattled Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, must be arrested by the Inspector General of Police and produced in court over his flagrant disobedience to a valid court order Daily Independent reports.
The ruling came 24 hours after a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, led by Justice Abdul Aboki, had halted Yakubu’s arrest by ordering stay of the contempt proceeding and stay of execution of the warrant of arrest issued against the INEC Chairman, pending the determination of three appeals filed by Mahmood at the appellate court.
The appellate panel adjourned to September 17, to hear Mahmood’s appeals.
Due to Yakubu’s refusal to appear on July 10, as ordered by the court, another order summoning him on August 1, was rebuffed by the INEC boss.
On August 1, Justice Pam said the court had exhausted its patience and consequently granted a bench warrant against Prof Yakubu, insisting that he must appear in court on August 8.
Apparently miffed by Yakubu’s absence in court on August 8, Justice Pam had to reinforce his order by ordering the Inspector General of Police to arrest and produce the INEC boss in court on August 14.
But dissatisfied with the contempt proceeding and the warrant of arrest, Yakubu headed to the appellate court to seek redress.
Specifically, the INEC Chairman 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.
When the matter came up on Monday August 13, the Court of Appeal ordered stay of the contempt proceeding and stay of execution of the warrant of arrest issued against the INEC Chairman, pending the determination of the appeal.
However, on Tuesday, counsel to the plaintiff, Kanayo Okafor, holding brief for Goddy Uche SAN, told the court what transpired at the Court of Appeal on Monday.
There was no appearance for Prof Yakubu and INEC, the alleged contemnors, and no reason was adduced for their absence in court.
However, some lawyers who had been announcing appearance for the alleged contemnors were seen in court but not robed.
In view of the development, the court was minded to deliver a ruling.
In its ruling, Justice Pam insisted that the warrant of arrest made against the INEC Chairman is still in force and has not been discharged.
“There is nothing before me to show that the proceedings in this court have been stayed by the Court of Appeal.
Justice Pam stated that there was no evidence showing what transpired at the appellate court, insisting that the Federal High Court is a Court of record.
“This court being a court of record, has nothing to prove that there was an order for stay from the Court of Appeal.
“The counsel to the respondent is not in court and no reason has been given for their absence.
“The contempt proceedings and the bench warrant issued for the arrest of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman still subsists, the IGP is to carry out the order of the arrest of Yakubu.
“Therefore, the order directing the Inspector General of Police to arrest Prof Mahmood Yakubu and present him to court still subsists.
“I hereby restate the order made by this court on August 1. This matter is adjourned to August 16, for the Inspector General of Police to arrest and produce Prof Mahmood in court,” Justice Pam declared.
But while the judge was delivering his ruling, a counsel on the team of lawyers for the alleged contemnors walked into the court and made effort to stop the ruling but to no avail.