Art and Culture

Petition: Oni Threatens Contempt Suit against INEC

todayAugust 18, 2022

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Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti

The Social Democratic Party’s (SDP) Governorship Candidate in the June 18 Ekiti poll, Mr. Segun Oni, has threatened to  institute a contempt suit against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), for allegedly defying tribunal’s order.

The former governor, said that he is in the process of filing the contempt charge against the electoral body, for allegedly abridging the order of the Election Petition Tribunal (EPT) that compelled it to allow Oni’s access to election materials used for the conduct of the poll.

Oni, who came second in the election, is challenging the victory of the Governor-elect, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji, at the EPT sitting in Ado Ekiti.

But handing down the threat while addressing  journalists in Ado Ekiti, yesterday, Oni, through a counsel and former Attorney General and  Justice Commissioner,  Mr. Owoseeni Ajayi, said that top members of INEC staff in Ekiti risked jail over their alleged  partisanship in the electoral duel.

“We are in the process of filing a contempt charge against INEC. It will be filed today or tomorrow. It is now left for them to determine whether they want to go to jail or not,” he warned. 

Ajayi stated that it was distasteful for INEC to be attempting to frustrate Oni’s case via alleged unbridled partisanship and abridgement of the petitioner’s rights in the matter.

The counsel said that sequel to the order granted on July 26, 2022, Oni, had in a  letter dated June 30, 2022, Oni had approached  the INEC’s Office in Ekiti and requested for inspection and certification of certain documents within its custody, which he said was cleverly rebuffed.

“The most embarrassing is the absolute disobedience to the court order granted on July 26, 2022, for inspection of materials used in the election, which has been brazenly disobeyed with impunity after more than four visits. The last time being August 15, 2022, when we were supposed to jointly inspect with the respondents’ team.

“The consequence for being a contemptnor is there as may be decided through an application for contempt of court. The court may presume against the contemnor that what he is hiding or concealing will work against them if tendered in court.

“It is, therefore, their choice to either do the right thing or face the consequences of disobedience to court order,” Ajayi said.

Expatiating further, Ajayi said: “Court order is jealously guided. Where you have not appealed against a court order, and you brazenly and deliberately disobeyed it, you become a contemnor and you will face the consequences.

“We are telling those manning the INEC office in Ado Ekiti to be aware of the consequences of their actions. They have conducted election and they ought to allow us access to election materials, this is not strange to the determination of election matters.”

He regretted the unfavourable disposition of INEC, especially coming when the petition is about to close and the documents are required to strengthen Oni’s petition.

“They want to frustrate us. They thought that when we don’t have the materials and documents, we will be frustrated and this is untrue, the law has answers to that. But we consider this a deliberate disobedience.

“They are deliberately putting obstacles on our way. Even under the FOI Act, they are supposed to give these documents to any interested Nigerian, let alone a legal team of a petitioner. This is an act of impunity against the law of the country,” he said.

However, INEC Spokesperson in Ekiti State, Mrs. Rolake Odebunmi, disproved the claim, saying the commission has contacted all the parties and had fixed a date to carry out the inspection next week.

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