Committal to prison: After panicky Victor Oye sought refuge in appeal court, court set to hammer him & INEC Chairman for Contempt of Court
Justice Mohammed Maidugu of the Federal Capital Territory High Court 40 sitting in Bwari, Abuja, is all set to bring down the gavel on the duo of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, and the former National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Ike Oye, for Contempt of Court.
Following the final hearing on the motion seeking to commit the two to prison for refusal to recognise Chief Edozie Njoku as APGA National Chairman.
It could be recalled that Justice Maidugu has magnanimously given a two-week ultimatum to Prof. Mahmood and Chief Victor Oye to purge themselves of contempt charges or face the full wrath of the law.
The judge had, meanwhile, ordered that the judgment of the Supreme Court of March 24, 2023, which affirmed Edozie Njoku as the authentic Chairman of APGA, be fully enforced in an earlier order.
On his part, INEC Chairman, Yakubu, damned the consequences and refused to recognise Chief Njoku as the authentic APGA National Chairman despite a Supreme Court judgement to that effect.
Instead of obeying the FCT Court’s order, Yakubu and Oye ran to the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, on November 13, 2023, seeking for an injunction to stop the committal to prison proceedings, which they eventually obtained on November 28, 2023.
During the hearing in the court on November 1, 2023, a mild drama ensued in court as INEC Chairman and Victor Oye’s lawyers suddenly realised that the Stay of Execution which they got from the appeal court has no bearing on the particular motion seeking to commit Oye and Mahmood to prison.
During the hearing on December 1, Barristers Mike Ajara and Panam Ntui, counsels to the Applicants/Plaintiffs, rose and moved the motion before the Court.
Barrister Ajara prayed the court to commit Mahmood Yakubu and Victor Oye to prison following the judgment that found them guilty of contempt, stressing that “heaven will not fall!”
Barrister Victor Agunzi, Counsel to Victor Oye, informed the court of the Preliminary Objection filed at the appeal court that stopped Oye and INEC Chairman from being committed to prison, adding that following the appellate court injunction, the Bwari court lacks jurisdiction to continue to handle the matter.
Agunzi asked the court to adjourn sine die as the respondents have appealed the judgment at the appeal court and that the superior court has granted their request.
Barristers Al Hassan Umar (SAN) and S. O. Ibrahim (SAN), who announced appearance in defense of Prof. Yakubu, said that INEC made no formal application, however, that the court should respect the Preliminary Objection before the appeal Court and that the case’s nomenclature has changed.
Umar urged the court to set aside the committal to prison order pending the determination of the appeal.
A furious Ajara, who rose like a wounded lion, called a bluff on the submissions of both counsels, insisting as follows:
1. That the court must proceed with contempt charges proceedings which has been contemptuously and flagrantly violated by both Mahmood Yakubu and Victor Oye.
2. That Contemnors have no right to challenge the ruling or given a hearing while still under contempt, citing gazetted authorities.
3. The Court must enforce the order for the respondents to purge themselves of the contempt of court, stressing that the court does not make an order in vain and that a court’s order must not be disobeyed.
He added that disobedience to a valid court order undermines the integrity and sanctity of the court and that insanity of flouting court order must stop and should not continue.
“Disobedience to an order made by the court is undoubtedly an affront on the sanctity of the court,” he fumed.
After hearing all sides of the parties, Justice Maidugu reserved ruling to a new dated to be communicated to the parties..
Speaking to News Band after the court proceedings, Ajara said that the judge has been left with no option that to enforce the committal to prison order.
In the meantime, watch the interview granted by APGA Publicity Secretary, Mr. Benedict Chinedu Okoro over the lingering APGA leadership crisis, partially orchestrated by INEC below: