5th February, 2015
A Federal High Court sitting in Warri, has fixed 10 February, 2015, for the commencement of contempt of court proceedings against the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attaihuru Jega, over the Commission’s failure to obey a judgement earlier delivered by the court.
The Commission had filed for a stay of execution against the judgment of the court delivered on 31 October, 2014, which ordered the restoration forthwith, of Ughelli South 1 and Isoko North 1 constituencies which were suppressed by the Commission in 1998.
Dismissing the application on Tuesday, 3 February, the presiding judge, Justice Shitu Abubakar, said the Commission had no reason to delay the implementation of the court’s judgment.
Counsel to the plaintiffs, Chief Efe Akpofure, (SAN), described the dismissal of INEC’s application for stay of execution as a good judgment.
Akpofure noted that the case was a matter that deserved extreme urgency since the ruling was a judgment for the restoration of state constituencies that should participate in the 28 February elections, adding that, “there is nobody that is bigger than the court; you must obey the court order.
“The court has made an order and that judgment is subsisting. I don’t want to believe that the delay in the implementation of the Court judgment is political; we expect INEC to do the needful, having been put on notice.”
He threatened that unless Prof. Attaihuru Jega complies with the court judgment, they would not withdraw the contempt of court proceedings against him. He said similar judgements have been given in other states and those constituencies were restored.
John Okoriko, who is also a counsel to the plaintiffs, described the ruling as fair, noting that, “we are convinced that it has met the justice of this particular case. The reason is that; this is a matter in which we have gotten judgment on the 31st day of October 2014 and the court copiously made the order that INEC should comply with the judgment by ensuring that Ughelli South 1 and Isoko North 1 constituencies be restored forthwith.”
Also speaking to journalists shortly after the adjournment, counsel to INEC, Mr. Efa Oka said INEC was under obligation to obey the judgment after its application for stay of execution was dismissed.