The Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday turned down a fresh request by a former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, for an interim order of injunction stopping the proceedings of the numerous panels set up by the state government to investigate his eight-year administration in the state.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed had earlier on July 8, 2020 refused to grant an oral application for the interim injunction made on behalf of Okorocha by his lawyer, Oba Maduabuchi (SAN).
The judge had said he preferred to go by an undertaking by the 2nd to the 48th defendants’ lawyer, Mr Joseph Matthew, to inform the Attorney-General of Imo State, Cyprian Akaolisa, on the need to halt the panels’ proceedings pending the time the court would determine if it had jurisdiction to entertain the suit filed by Okorocha.
The 2nd to the 48th defendants are the Attorney-General of Imo State and members of the five panels set up by the Imo State Government to probe previous administrations in the state.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is the 1st defendant in the case.
On July 14, another lawyer representing the 2nd to the 48th defendants, Mr Debo Ikuesan, appeared in court and informed the judge that in line with the earlier undertaking, the Attorney-General had advised the panels to stop their proceedings.
But on Tuesday, Okorocha’s lawyer, Maduabuchi, told Justice Mohammed that despite the undertaking, the panel probing contract awards under Okorocha’s administration had continued sitting.
Making the second request for an order of interim injunction to restrain the panels from sitting, Maduabuchi said, “the only alternative is for the court to issue a formal restraining order to protect the res (the subject matter).”
But the Attorney-General, Mr Cyprian Akaolisa, who is the 2nd defendant, appearing for himself and the 3rd to the 48th defendants at the Tuesday’s proceedings, expressed regrets that Maduabuchi allegedly hid from the court the fact that he had, on behalf of Okorocha, filed a similar suit before the High Court of Imo State in Owerri asking for similar prayer, but was rejected by the judge.
Ruling, Justice Mohammed asked Akaolisa to file a response to Okorocha’s affidavit in which it was alleged that the panel had continued sitting despite the pending suit.
He also asked the Attorney-General to exhibit the certified true copy of the Owerri High Court ruling in his counter-affidavit to back his claim that the suit by Okorocha constituted an abuse of court process.
He adjourned the matter till August 5 without making a pronouncement on Maduabuchi’s fresh request for an interim order.
When reminded by Okorocha’s lawyer that he did not say anything about the request, Justice Mohammed advised him to file the necessary application seeking to set aside the panel’s proceedings in the event that the panel concluded sitting before August 5.