INEC Chairman Danger To Democracy, Says Lawyer
The chairman of Independent National Electoral Commision (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, should no longer be trusted by Nigerians to conduct the 2019 general elections because “he has become a very dangerous threat to our democracy”, a legal practitioner and civil rights activist, Ugochukwu Osuagwu, warned on Saturday.
Speaking on a bench warrant issued on the INEC chairman by Justice Stephen Pam of a Federal High Court in Abuja, for flouting the orders of the Supreme Court, Osuagwu said the head of a 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 remains an institution that is beyond a single personality, saying allowing Yakubu to conduct the 2019 election would be putting Nigeria in danger.
He lamented what he described as the “gradual erosion of democratic values anchored on the sanctity of the rule of law”, adding that head of such an electoral head who does not respect court orders amounted to disaster waiting to happen.
Osuagwu further said a situation where top public officers could flagrantly disobey court rulings jeopardizes democracy and puts the country at high risk.
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.
The court had summoned him to appear to defend the contempt suit instituted against him by the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Anambra State, Ejike Oguebego.
While citing the recent case of Imo state where the Attorney-General who 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.