Appeal Court Suspends Arrest Warrant on INEC Chairman, Malmood

The Appeal Court, sitting in Abuja, Monday, suspended the order of warrant of arrest placed on the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Yakubu Mahmood
Recall, Justice Stephen Pam of a Federal High Court, Abuja, had on the 1st of August, 2018, ordered for the arrest of Malmood, following his absence in court on three different occasions, to show cause why he should not be committed to prison over his alleged disobedience to the order of the court.
Justice Pam had reaffirmed the order in a short ruling on August 8, when the INEC boss failed to show up again.
However, the Appeal Court ordered a stay of execution of the arrest order, Monday, pending the determination of the appeal filed by the INEC Chairman.
The three man panel of the Court of Appeal, presided over by Justice Abdu Aboki, held that it would be better for the court to take the appeal and the substantive suit together.
The court then ordered for a stay of execution of the warrant of arrest on Malmood as well as a stay of proceedings of the matter at the trial court.
The court in a short ruling, held that hearing of the appeal cannot go on without delving into the main suit, adding that parties are yet to file their brief of arguments.
“Parties have agreed that the application cannot be taken today, since they have not filed their arguments”, he said, adding that, arguments cannot be taken without delving into the main issues.
“The proper order is to adjourn for parties to file their brief of arguments and since the court below is aware of the appeal and considering the legality of the warrant of arrest issued, it would be prejudicial for the lower court to continue with the case.
“We therefore stay execution of the warrant of arrest pending the determination of this appeal and the substantive suit which would be taken together at the adjourned date”, the Appeal Court held.
The matter was therefore adjourned till September 7, for the hearing of the appeal and the substantive suit.
His counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), had informed the trial court on the last adjourned date that Mahmood was not in court as a result of the appeals he filed at the appellate court challenging the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the contempt charge, the legality of the charge as well as the arrest order.
The INEC Chief in the notice of appeal, claimed that Justice Pam acted in bad faith in the issuance of the arrest order because he had already filed a pending appeal against the order and the attention of the judge drawn to the appeal.
When the matter came up, counsel to Mahmood, told the court that he had filed an application challenging the judgment of the lower court as well as its jurisdiction to hear the matter, adding that the application was supported by a further affidavit dated August 10, praying for the appellate court to make five orders in favour of his client.
Awomolo said if the appeal was not heard by the time the court would be sitting in September, his client would have been sent to prison, adding that the lower court was bent on sending Yakubu to jail.
However, counsel to the respondents, Goddy Uche (SAN), insisted that the trial was yet to reach the stage where Yakubu could be jailed, adding that what the trial court is asking for is for the INEC chief to appear in court to show cause why he should not be committed to prison.

Author: News Editor

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