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Jonathan, Mark, Tambuwal, Tukur to face contempt charges in court over PDP national convention

By The Citizen
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An Abuja Federal High Court will on September 30 hear an application in which President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President, Namadi Sambo, Senate President, David Mark and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal are to be joined in a pending contempt suit by local manufacturer, Beddings Holdings Limited, for allegedly using its patented ballot boxes for the August 31 national convention without permission.

Apart from Jonathan, those listed in the initial application for joinder in the contempt suit are the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Bamanga Tukur, Chairman of the Special Convention Committee, Prof. Jerry Gana, and Chairman of the Convention Electoral Committee, Ken Nnamani.

The date was disclosed in hearing notices served on Jonathan, the PDP and the concerned officials.

The company said the President and the others undermined and flouted a subsisting judgment in which the Abuja high court ordered that the ballot boxes should not be used without the permission of the patent holder.

However, the company filed a fresh application in which the list was expanded to include the chairman of the party's Board of Trustees, Tony Anenih, Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, who acted as Chairman, PDP Essential Electoral Materials Committee, and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Mike Okiro, who served as Chairman, PDP Special National Convention Sub-Committee on Security.

The application specifically seeks an order joining Jonathan and the others in 'the contempt proceedings already commenced by plaintiff/applicant.'

The plaintiff accused the defendants of contemptuously conniving with the Independent National Electoral Commission and its Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, to use its transparent ballot boxes for the PDP's convention in violation of a subsisting judgment of the court delivered on June 5, 2012 by Justice Adamu Bello of the Abuja FHC.

In a supporting affidavit, the Chairman of Beddings Holdings Limited, Chief Sylvester Odigie, stated that the alleged contemnors were seen casting their votes at the PDP August 31 convention, using the company's patented ballot boxes without authorisation.

Odigie also queried the legality of the outcome of the convention in view of some reliefs granted by the Abuja FHC in the June 5, 2012 judgment in suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/82/11.

'By virtue of reliefs 6 and 7 as contained in the enrolled judgment order, the elections of the PDP conducted at its special national convention held on August 31, 2013 in Abuja is unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful and therefore stands null and avoid,' Odigie maintained.

Relief six of the judgment states that 'any action or actions whatsoever and howsoever taken or purported to have been taken by the defendants relating to the said products without the prior and express license, consent, authority and/or approval of the plaintiff is unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful and is therefore null and void.'

Justice Bello had in the judgment held that Bedding Holdings Limited owns valid and subsisting patent rights over transparent ballot boxes and electronic collapsible transparent ballot boxes being used for elections in the country.

Justice Bello in the judgment also granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC and any other person from utilising or dealing with the patented boxes 'except with the express and prior consent, license and authority of the plaintiff to that effect.'