The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has nullified the arrest warrant earlier issued by the Federal High Court in Abuja against the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.
Justice Stephen Pam of the Federal High Court had, on August 1, 2018, ordered the Police to arrest Yakubu for allegedly refusing, on three occasions, to honour the court’s summons to face a contempt charge instituted against him by an acclaimed chairman of the Anambra State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ejike Oguebego.
Eguebego’s contempt suit was predicated on the allegation that the INEC chairman had refused to honour a judgment of the Supreme Court delivered in December 2014, which directed INEC to recognise him as the chairman of the PDP in Anambra State.
But a five-man panel of the Court of Appeal, led by Justice Abdu Aboki, has unanimously set aside the arrest warrant on the grounds that the INEC chairman was denied fair hearing in the proceedings leading to the issuance of the arrest warrant.
The Court of Appeal also ordered that the case file be taken away from the judge who issued the arrest warrant and be re-assigned to another judge of the court who would start the matter afresh.
Before the issuance of the arrest warrant on August 1, 2018, the Federal High Court had, in its ruling of July 5, 2018, ordered the INEC chairman to appear in court to answer to the contempt suit.
Subsequently, the Federal High Court, on August 1, 2018, ordered the Police to arrest him for his alleged continued refusal to honour the court’s summons.
But Yakubu had, through his lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), appealed before the Court of Appeal to challenge the arrest warrant and the Federal High Court’s summons leading to the issuance of the order of arrest.
The Court of Appeal had delivered its judgment on October 11, 2018, setting aside the entire committal proceedings before Justice Pam at the Federal High Court.
A copy of the judgment of the Court of Appeal was only obtained on Wednesday.
Delivering the lead judgment of the Court of Appeal on Yakubu’s appeal, Justice Aboki nullified the entire committal proceedings, including the issuance of the summons and the arrest warrant.