The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State has commenced a legal action before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja seeking to commit the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, to prison for allegedly flouting a valid order of the court in relation to the outcome of the National Assembly primaries held in the state.
The High Court had issued an order on December 5, last year, restraining INEC from accepting “any delegate list or nominated candidates” from the congresses or primaries conducted by the caretaker committee purportedly set up by the party’s national leadership to manage the affairs of the Anambra PDP.
The court had also directed the Anambra PDP to serve the order on INEC and Jega which was allegedly complied with within 72 hours.
But rather than complying with the order, the Anambra PDP accused Prof. Jega, in a motion for committal filed by the party on December 31, 2014, of treating the order with disdain.
Justice Evoh Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, had, in the December 5, 2014 judgment in suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/854/2014 filed by the Chairman and Legal Secretary of Anambra PDP – Ejike Oguebego and Chuks Okoye – (for themselves and the state’s Executive Committee of the party), affirmed the plaintiffs’ leadership of the party.
Justice Chukwu declared the caretaker committee illegal on the ground that it was wrongly constituted while the tenure of the Oguebego-led EXCO was yet to expire.
He restrained INEC and its agents from accepting any delegate list or nominated candidates from primaries or congresses conducted by the illegal committee.
The party, in its motion on notice filed by its lawyer, Taiwo Abe, seeks among others, “an order committing Prof. Attahiru Jega, Chairman, INEC, for contempt of court for disobeying and refusing to comply with the order of this court made on December 5, 2014 and served on him on December 8, 2014.”
It also seeks an order directing INEC, “particularly its chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega contemnor to comply forthwith with the orders of the court made on December 5, 2014.”
The Anambra PDP led by Oguebego hinged its prayers on the grounds that INEC and its chairman were yet to obey the December 5 order and that their refusal to obey the order had adversely affected the nominated candidates that emerged from the National Assembly primary it conducted.
“Except the order sought for in this application is granted, the 2nd defendant (INEC), particularly its chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, will continue to disobey and refuse to comply with the orders except they are compelled to do so,” the applicants said.
On December 31, the vacation judge at the Federal High Court, Abuja, Justice Ahmed Mohammed ordered the service of the processes in relation to the committal proceedings and hearing notices on INEC and Jega.
The judge adjourned further proceedings in the case to January 7, but to be heard by Justice Chukwu.