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APGA’s Victor Oye and INEC Chairman Risk Jail Time for Disobedience to Court Orders

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ABUJA, Nigeria – In a decisive judgment on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, a Federal High Court in Abuja, presided over by Justice Madugu, has given the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Victor Oye, and the INEC Chairman a stern ultimatum: comply with court orders within 14 days or face imprisonment.

The court’s order stems from proceedings initiated by Camaru Lateef Ogidan, the APGA’s National Vice Chairman for the South West Geopolitical Zone, and Rabiu Mustapha, the National Welfare Officer, who sought legal remedy for what they claim is a blatant disregard for the judiciary’s authority.

Their motion filed against Oye and the INEC Chairman, Yakubu Mahmood, was a stark reminder of the paramount role of the rule of law in democratic processes.

Justice Madugu had, on May 10, explicitly commanded a halt to APGA’s internal elections, citing legal objections that needed resolution. However, this order was ignored, and the elections went ahead under the INEC’s oversight. This disobedience prompted the contempt proceedings culminating in the current ruling.

“A court does not make an order in vain; a court order must be disobeyed. Disobedience to a valid court order undermines the integrity and sanctity of the court. This insanity of flouting court order must stop, and it cannot continue,” Justice Madugu remarked, emphasizing the gravity of the offence.

The attorney for the APGA officials, Michael Ajara, commended the court’s leniency but warned that the respondents’ non-compliance would lead to severe consequences.

“The only way is for them to undo what they did and obey the order made on May 10, failure of which will land them in jail,” Ajara said, interpreting the court’s patience as an opportunity for correction rather than a sign of weakness.

The court also dismissed a preliminary objection raised by Oye’s lawyer, Victor Agunzi, setting the stage for a potential showdown should the INEC Chairman and Oye fail to “purge themselves of contempt of court.”

This ruling underscores a pivotal moment for APGA and for Nigerian democracy at large, as the defiance of a court order by high-ranking officials is met with the possibility of incarceration.

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