ABIA GUBER TRIBUNAL: Court reserves date for adoption of final written address

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP on Friday, asked the Governorship election petition tribunal sitting at the Federal High Court Umuahia, to issue a contempt order on the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu for disobeying court order.

Taking the floor after the Labour Party’s counsel, Sunny Ajala closed his case without presenting any witness, PDP’s counsel, Prof. Paul Ananaba, SAN presented a motion bringing to the notice of the tribunal the alleged refusal of INEC Chairman to obey the tribunal’s order to allow them access to the BVAS machines used for the March 18, 2023 Governorship election in Abia state. The tribunal however asked Ananaba to tell them why the motion should be heard outside pre-hearing as there was no leave for it to be heard.

Responding, Ananaba argued that contempt proceedings arising from an already existing proceeding does not require an order of leave. PDP Governorship Candidate – Okey Ahiwe “Contempt proceeding is not part of the proceeding of the main petition. It is predicted on the disrespect to the order of this tribunal” he stated.

He noted further that INEC chairman’s disobedience, questions the competence and jurisdiction of the tribunal. The counsel argued that having been served, the respondent ought to appear before the tribunal adding that ” we were obstructed by INEC to have access to what we should have”. He therefore asked the court to grant his plea for contempt and give an order for the public to know that no official of INEC not any public officer has the right to disobey court order.

Taking his defense, INEC’s counsel, Mr Nwafor asked the tribunal to dismiss the petitioners’ application on the grounds of incompetence and gross abuse of court proceedings. According to Nwafor, section 146(1) of the electoral act 2022 which Ananaba cited in his argument, is to enable a petitioner “as in this case”, to apply for an order for inspection of documents and other election materials for the purpose of instituting and maintaining their petition.

The counsel noted that the PDP had already instituted and maintained their petition (opening and closing) and as such, cannot bring further motion for hearing. Nwafor argued further that the provision of section 146(3) of the 2022 electoral act under which the PDP brought their application, is not to summon INEC Chairman but to summon the commission which is INEC, to show cause why it did not obey court order.

The Commission has been defined in section 152 to mean INEC and not INEC Chairman, the respondent sought to be committed” Ananaba argued. He added; ” the petitioners having closed their case, this application is academic and serves no useful or utilitarian value to them other than to raise sentiments . I therefore request this tribunal to dismiss this motion”.


The tribunal reserved ruling on the motion till September 7, 2023. It also adjourned till same day for adoption of final written addresses by both parties. The tribunal gave the respondents and petitioners 5 days for their final written addresses; and two days for the respondents to file their reply from point of law.