Written by Emmanuel Ogbeche

Contempt: INEC chair danger to democracy – Lawyer

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, has been described as a danger to democracy and should not be trusted to conduct a credible and free elections in 2019.

This claim was made by a legal practitioner and civil rights activist, Ugochukwu Osuagwu, over the weekend in Abuja.

Reacting to a bench warrant issued on the INEC chairman about two weeks ago by Justice Stephen Pam of a Federal High Court in Abuja for flouting the orders of the Supreme Court, the rights activist said the head of an apex democratic institution like the INEC should not be seen to be disobeying court orders.

Osuagwu, Head of Saint Francis Xavier Advocates, a law firm, said, “If he can flout court orders, the INEC chairman can no longer be trusted to conduct any election in Nigeria, he has become a problem to democracy.”

According to him, INEC remained an institution that is beyond a single personality, saying allowing Yakubu to conduct the 2019 elections would be putting Nigeria in danger. 

Osuagwu also decried the fact that Yakubu appealed the court order at the time judges were on a recess, describing it as a legal gaffe.

He said the INEC boss ought to have first obeyed the court order before making the appeal, adding, “after all, he wasn't invited to a firing squad. He could have first showed up in court before making the appeal."

Justice Stephen Pam had issued the bench warrant for the arrest of INEC chairman, following his absence from the court proceedings in defiance to the repeated summons.

Osuagwu further said a situation where top public officers could flagrantly disobey court rulings jeopardizes democracy and puts the country at high risk.

While citing the recent case of Imo state where the Attorney-General refused to swear in a new deputy governor based on a court ruling, he stated that when court orders are obeyed, democratic values are deepened. 

 

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