By IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI
ABUJA—THE Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, ordered the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof Attahiru Jega, to appear before it to show cause why he should not be committed to prison for disobeying a valid court order pertaining to the recently conducted Governorship election in Edo State.
Justice Adamu Bello issued Form-49 against Jega following allegations that contrary to an order of the court, collapsible transparent ballot boxes, were used to conduct gubernatorial election in Edo on July 14.
Relying on the provisions of Order 9 Rule 13 of the Federal High Court procedure rule, the court directed the INEC boss to appear before it with his defence or risk imprisonment for contempt.
Equally summoned by the court was the Registrar of Patent, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
“Take Notice that the plaintiff will apply to this court for an order for committal to prison of the alleged contemnors for having disobeyed the order of this court made on June 5, 2012 enjoining and restraining you,” the order read.
It will be recalled that the court had in its judgment on Tuesday June 5, declared illegal the use of the collapsible transparent ballot boxes used for the 2011 general elections by INEC without the consent of the owner of the patent right to the boxes.
The Court also barred the electoral body from using the boxes for any subsequent polls, including the July 14 Edo governorship elections without first seeking the approval of the patent owner.
The orders of the court followed a suit filed by an indigenous company, Bedding Holdings Limited challenging the use of the boxes for the elections.
The plaintiff had approached the court contending that it had subsisting exclusive and bona fide patent right to the collapsible transparent boxes used by INEC for the conduct of the 2011 polls.
Bedding Holdings which specializes in general fabrication and manufacture of steel metal products said the Collapsible Transparent Ballot Boxes was among many of its innovations duly registered with exclusive patent right issued to it by the Registrar of Patents in the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Meanwhile, Jega had admitted that INEC deployed the ballot boxes for the Edo polls because it was not possible for the Commission to procure new design of the boxes before the elections.
Jega’s admission was contained in an affidavit he filed before the court in support of a motion seeking for a stay of execution of the judgment of the court.
The affidavit dated June 28, was deposed to by one Rahima Aminu, “Female, Moslem, adult and a legal officer of INEC.”
He said: “That I know as a fact that the Ballot Boxes to be used in the said forthcoming elections may be the subject of the injunctive order of this court sought to be stayed from being executed.
“That the Edo State election is due to hold on14th July 2012, three weeks hence.
“That the Ondo State Election is due to hold on 20th October, 2012 four months hence. That I know that it is not feasible for the applicant to acquire/procure a new design or different Ballot boxes for the said elections given the short time for the elections.
“The defendants did not have notice of the proceedings leading to the said judgment as it was not properly served with the originating processes and /or any other process in the suit leading to the judgment of the court,” he added.