By Ozioruva Aliu, Benin-City
The Federal High Court Benin City has summoned the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Delta State, Dr Cyril Omorogbe to appear before it on February 4 next year and show cause why the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should not be charged for contempt for disobeying a ruling of the Court of Appeal that directed it to reverse the current ward delineation in Warri South local government area of Delta State from 12 to 10 wards.
Some councillors from the area represented by Philip Ejeyi in suit number FHC/B/CS/109/1997 had dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission to the federal high court for failing to implement the order of the Court of Appeal which the Commission did not appeal to the Supreme Court.
They argued that the Commission still went ahead to conduct the 2019 election into the two-state constituencies that make up the local government still using the now illegal 12 wards.
When the case came up for hearing yesterday before Justice Mukta Garba Umar, Omorogbe did not also show up but sent the Principal Executive Officer, Onyeali Chika to represent the commission.
Counsels to the Plaintiff led by Jolone Ikomi and Robinson Ariyo posited that INEC is contradicting itself and is deliberately refusing to comply with the order of the Court of Appeal which it did not appeal.
Ariyo said the sitting was the second time the REC would refuse to honour a summon by the court “with flimsy excuses”
He said the plaintiff approached the court to declare the creation of wards in Warri South local government area of Delta from 10 to 12 wards as null and void because the additional wards were created in less than ten years when they were first created which he said is against the constitutional provision that wards can only be created once in ten years.
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He argued that the federal high court ruled in its favour by telling INEC to revert to the 10 wards but that INEC appealed and lost at the court of Appeal and wondered why the Commission has failed to comply yet did not appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal even when it deposed to an affidavit that they were complying with the decision.
But counsel to INEC, Vincent Etta argued that the responsibility of ward delineation was not the responsibility of INEC but state electoral commissioners.
In his ruling, Justice Umar ordered all parties to appear before him on the next adjourned date of February 4th 2020 while he would also consult to decide whether he would continue to hear the case or transfer it to Asaba Division of the Federal High Court