•Umpire gets 14-day ultimatum to comply or face contempt proceedings
By Emma Amaize
THE reported failure of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to reinstate Anioma North Constituency II in Delta State since November 29, 2019 when the Supreme Court ordered the electoral body to ensure restoration of the constituency, has triggered fresh tension in the area.
Traditional rulers, elders and leaders of Idumuje and Odiani clans in Aniocha North Local Government Area, February, wrote the National Chairman, INEC, Professor Mamood Yakubu, requesting for audience with him over the commission’s inability to comply with the Supreme Court judgment.
INEC did not grant the request, which further escalated anxiety in the affected communities, comprising Idumuje-Unor, Idumuje -Ugboko,Ukwu Nzu, Ugboba, Idumuogo, Ugbodu, Ubulubu, Anioma and Ogodo in Aniocha North Local Government area, Delta State.
Habeeb Lawal and Associates, counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr. Akiah Humphrey Okolie and two other indigenes, followed up in a letter, dated March 8, entitled: “Notice of Contempt of Court and Disobedience of Court judgment”, to the INEC chairman, informing him that the electoral body had, since November 2019, declined to comply with the said judgment.
The plaintiffs gave INEC a 14-day ultimatum since March to restore Aniocha North Constituency II in Delta State or face legal sanction for disregard of court.
Habeeb Lawal and Associates in the letter to Prof Yakubu, stated: “The order of the court is that INEC restores Aniocha North II state constituency and conduct elections within 90 days for the purpose of electing the member Aniocha North II in the Delta state House of Assembly.”
“However to our clients’ dismay, since November 2020 when INEC promised to comply with the court decision, the Aniocha North constituency II has yet to be restored in utter disregard and disrespect to the final decision of court.
“It is our clients’ brief that they have made many representations to INEC over the consistent failure of the commission to comply with the orders of court and the response from INEC quarters has been that the commission is awaiting the approval of the National Assembly.
“It is our strong view that submitting the judgment of a competent court for the approval of the National Assembly before complying with the strict and clear final orders of court is a seeming abuse of the democratic principle of separation of powers and it is a gross violation of section 6 of the 1999 constitution,” the counsel said.