A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja on Wednesday dismissed a suit seeking the removal of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. MahmoOd Yakubu, over an allegation of false assets declaration against him.
The court also stopped security agencies from investigating him.
The PUNCH reported that the plaintiff, Somadina Uzoabaka, in an originating summons marked FCT/HC/GAR/CV/47/2022 filed against the Attorney-General of the Federation and Yakubu, sought, among other things, an order of mandatory injunction directing and compelling the INEC chairman to recuse, excuse, exclude himself, or step down as chairman, pending the investigation and consideration of the various allegations against him by the various law enforcement agencies.
The plaintiff also sought an order of the court stopping him from holding or assuming any public office for a period of 10 years.
But Yakubu, in his defence, tendered exhibits to show the sources of money for the purchase of the properties, which the plaintiff alleged were illegally acquired and insisted that his asset declarations were validly done.
Delivering his judgment, Justice M. A. Hassan held that the declaration of assets by Yakubu was lawful, valid and in compliance with the law.
According to him, the INEC chairman cannot be investigated by any of the security agencies listed by the claimant.
The judge denied all 14 of the claimant’s prayers and ruled that the INEC chairman could not be removed based on fabricated allegations of false asset declaration.
The judge, therefore, dismissed the claims of the claimant and allowed Yakubu’s counterclaim.
In their reactions, the Coalition of United Political Parties and other socio-political organisations have hailed the judgment, describing the judiciary as the last hope of the common man.
The CUPP spokesperson, Ikenga Ugochinyere, described the judgment as “a major New Year gift to Nigerians by the judiciary.”
According to him, the court verdict was “a victory for credible, free, and fair elections.”
Ugochinyere said, “I’m happy that the judiciary over the months has proven that they are the last hope of the common man. Since our intelligence discovered plans to compel the INEC chairman to stop the use of the bimodal voter accreditation system in the 2023 elections, these evil politicians have not rested; they are looking for non-existing faults.”
This is as he regretted that security agencies are now being used for other responsibilities.
He said, “First, it was the CBN governor because of the cash limit policy, and now it is the INEC chairman. The security agencies are a disappointment; at a time when the masses need their protection and help, they are busy serving the interests of evil politicians.”
The National Chairman of the Action Alliance, Kenneth Udeze, applauded the judge for being bold.
Udeze wondered why any person would wait until a few days before a general election to seek the removal of the INEC boss from office.
“It would have thrown the entire country into political crisis as there would be allegations and counter-allegations in an already highly charged polity. Security agencies should live up to their mandate and stop being apolitical”, he said.