A Federal High Court in Abuja has summoned officials of the new Young Democratic Party to appear on March 23 over alleged misrepresentation of its judgment ordering the registration of the party.
The presiding judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, said the court was embarrassed by the claim of the party officials at a press conference that in its judgment of March 4, 2015, it ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to shift the 2015 elections in order to accommodate the party in the polls. The party had on the strength of the alleged court’s pronouncement scheduled its primaries for March 26 and 27 ahead of the general polls scheduled for March 28 and April 11, 2015.
The court on Thursday ordered YDP’s lead counsel, Kelvin Nwofo (SAN), to investigate the issue and produce all the persons who addressed the press conference in court.
The judge made the order when the application for stay of execution of the March 4, 2015 judgment filed by INEC came up on Thursday. INEC is by its application seeking a stay of execution of the judgment on the grounds that it had filed a notice of appeal dated March 9, 2015 against the March 4 verdict before the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal.
The PUNCH had obtained a copy of the enrolled order made in the judgment by the court and reported on Thursday that the document showed that apart from ordering INEC to issue certificate of registration to the party, the court did not order that the party be allowed to participate in the polls.
Justice Mohammed, who said he received calls from different parts of the country and abroad, held in a short ruling that the party’s claim during the said press conference had put the court in “a very negative light.”
He said if Nwofo failed to comply with his directive to produce the persons involved in the press conference on March 23, the court would not hesitate to “cite any person who misrepresented its record and judgment for contempt.”
He added in his short ruling, “As far as the court is concerned no such orders were made. “In fact, even the plaintiff, the Young Democratic Party, did not seek such reliefs from the court. “It is therefore very unfortunate that that the court is portrayed in a very negative perspective.
“One would have expected that the person concerned to approach the court and obtain the certified true copy of the judgment to see the orders made by the court.
“In the light of the embarrassing situation, I hereby direct the learned senior counsel to the plaintiff to investigate this ugly development and bring the persons or possible persons who held the press conference to court on the next adjourned date to show the court where the said order was made, failing which the court will not hesitate to cite any person who misrepresented its record and judgment for contempt.”
According to the enrolled order of the judgment, the court, only ordered the INEC to issue certificate of registration to the party.
The judge had held in the judgment that YDP was deemed registered as a political party by virtue of the failure of INEC to communicate its decision not to register the then political association as a political party within 30 days of receiving its (the plaintiff’s) application as stipulated in section 78 (4) of the Electoral Act. A copy of the court’s judgment also obtained on Wednesday showed that the plaintiff – the YDP – did not ask for inclusion in the polls in its amended originating summons dated December 2, 2014.