Posted by News Express | 15 November 2016 | 2,812 times
An Owerri Federal High Court has summoned five officials of Imo State Government for disobeying an order restraining the state government from demolishing a property owned by the former Minister of Interior, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho.
The affected officials are the Commissioner for Works and Transport, Mrs. Josephine Udoji, her counterpart in the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Urban Planning, Chief Lawrence Eburuo, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, Dr. Iwuagwu, Director of Civil Works in the Ministry of Works, Engr. C.E. Egbuka and Head of Department, Works in Government House, Arc. Emeka Duru.
These officials including Gov. Rochas Okorocha are defendants to a case (Suit No. FHC/OW/133/2016) filed by Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho to protect his property from demolition by the state government.
Justice Lewis Allagoa who frowned at the continuous disobedience of the court order by the Okorocha government, however, threatened to issue a warrant of arrest of the affected officials should they fail to appear on December 8.
Recall that on July 3, 2016, an Owerri Federal High Court had issued an order restraining the defendants from entering or encroaching for the purpose of demolishing, the property known and called No. 6 Orlu Road, Owerri, pending the determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction filed by the plaintiff (Capt. Iheanacho).
But the order was disobeyed as Gov. Okorocha personally supervised the demolition of the said property.
While arguing, counsel to Capt. Iheanacho, Ken Njemanze (SAN) told the court that he brought a motion to commit the defendants to prison for “continuously violating the order made on July 3rd by the court. The defendants are treating this court with levity and contempt because they think they are above the law. That is why they continue to absent themselves from the court.”
But counsel to the defendants, Mrs. J.C. Ibe, asked the court to adjourn the matter to enable her clients time to appears. She claimed to be unaware of service of appearance to the defendants.
Her attempt to file a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the court on the matter was turned down as Justice Allagoa insisted that orders of the court must be obeyed before entertaining motion on jurisdiction.
While adjourning the matter, Justice Allagoa said “whether you are aware of the service on your clients or not, the issue is about personal service on the defendants. So, if they decide not to inform you, it’s not my problem. What it means is that they are illiterate of the law and not ignorant.”
The judge expressed his displeasure saying that “the inherent powers of the court are continuously assaulted by the actions of the defendants."
“I’m not looking at the issue of jurisdiction. But, whether my court has jurisdiction or not, it shouldn’t warrant anyone to disobey the court. So, I can’t look at the issue of jurisdiction without you first obeying my orders as court,” he said.
The judge, however, adjourned the matter to December 8, 2016 to enable the defendants appear before it and show course why they should not be committed to prison.
Meanwhile, as the court was sitting on Monday, Gov. Okorocha and officials of his state government wantonly invaded the property again and demolished it for the third time. A visit to the area shows that no other property situated along Orlu road was touched except that belonging to Capt. Iheanacho.
•Photo shows retired Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho.
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