Obiano's public holiday stalls hearing of suit seeking to strike down 2019 Anambra State Budget

Posted by News Express | 8 March 2019 | 1,591 times

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•Governor Obiano

The scheduled hearing of a suit filed by a human rights activist, Mr. KeneChukwu Okeke, MCSD, on Friday failed to continue at the Anambra State High Court sitting at Awka, the state capital.

Okeke, National Coordinator of the advocacy group Good Governance Initiative, is seeking to restrain Governor Willie Obiano from interfering with the budgetary estimates of the Judiciary and Legislature; and further restraining the House of Assembly  (3rd Defendant) from voting or passing any appropriation bill, supply bill or spending bill laid before it by the Executive Governor (1st Defendant) which included budgetary estimates, remuneration, salaries, allowances, and recurrent expenditures of the Legislature and Judiciary, as prepared by the Governor.

However, proceedings could not go on as Governor Obiano had declared today work-free day to “enable public and civil servants to participate in the forthcoming State legislative elections”.

In the suit marked A/462/2018; Okeke is also seeking a “Declaration to the effect that the dependence of the Legislative and Judicial Arms of Government on the Executive Arm for its budgeting and funding, impinge on the cardinal principles of separation of powers, and it is directly responsible for the present state of inadequate judicial infrastructure, poor welfare of Judiciary Staff, including but not limited to delays in administration of justice, and the said executive control or interference with the budgeting and funding of the Legislature and Judiciary is in contumacy to sections 121 (2), 121 (3) & 124 (1), 124 (2), 124 (3), 124 (4) of the 1999 Constitution (amended), and so therefore illegal and unconstitutional.”

At the resumed hearing of the matter this morning, the Claimant/Advocate, Okeke, was in court with the Good Governance team, saying they were ready to proceed with the hearing of the suit. They, however, met the doors of the courtrooms chained and padlocked to prevent proceedings from taking place. Lawyers and litigants who came to the courts were turned back at the gate by security guards keeping watch over the premises.

Okeke decried the declaration of March 8 as a work-free day by the Governor, saying: “It is preposterous to shut down economic and productive activities in Anambra State because the Executive Governor wants to extend or gain political foothold on the forthcoming House of Assembly elections and not add value to the lives of the Anambra people. It is no longer news that many of the House of Assembly members often are hand-picked lackeys of the incumbent Governor, and it is rather low on the part of Governor Obiano to ask workers to stay at home because he wants to exert his political influence using state power and thence, the declaration of such work free day is rather wasteful and unnecessary.”

The rights activist described the situation as ‘unfortunate’ and hopes the courts would resume on Monday to grant an adjournment.

The trial judge, Justice Theophine Oguji, J;  had ordered that the hearing notices to be issued and served on the Executive Governor, Attorney-General, and House of Assembly, whilst fixing the matter on Friday, March 8 for the hearing of Claimant’s originating summons and the Defendants’ preliminary objection.

In the preliminary objection, the Executive Governor, Attorney-General, and House of Assembly urged Justice Theophine Oguji to dismiss Okeke’s suit for being incompetent, and for being an abuse of court processes in that the Claimant lacks locus standi to institute the action. The Defendants also said the suit failed to disclose any infringement of Okeke’s rights.

Source: News Express

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