Ade Adesomoju, Chidiebube Okeoma and Gibson Achonu
There was a mild drama at the Imo State Government House in Owerri on Tuesday after a state high court sitting in the state capital stopped the swearing-in of the deputy governor-designate, Callistus Ekenze.
Ezenze was to be sworn in to replace Eze Madumere, who was removed from office on Monday by members of the state House of Assembly, despite a court order halting his removal proceedings.
But after waiting for four hours for the swearing-in rituals to commence on Tuesday in the Sam Mbakwe Hall, guests and government functionaries, including Governor Rochas Okorocha, later learnt that the court had restrained the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Paschal Nnadi, from going ahead with the swearing-in.
The news was broken by the state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Militus Nlemadim.
The attorney general told the audience that there was a court order made on Tuesday morning by Justice Benjamin Iheaka in Owerri, stopping the CJ from swearing in the deputy governor-designate.
He, however, told the guests not to despair, saying efforts were being made to vacate the restraining order.
Nlemadim expressed optimism that the order would be vacated before the end of the day and Ekenze would still be sworn in on Tuesday.
A government source told our correspondent that the CJ told the governor that he would not swear in the deputy governor-designate as long as there was a court order restraining him from doing so.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the CJ told the governor that it would be wrong for him to be seen to be disobeying a court order, considering his position as the chief judge of the state.
According to the source, the chief judge advised the governor to get the restraining order vacated.
Our correspondent gathered that the interim order stopping the swearing-in ceremony was following a suit instituted by the impeached deputy governor on Tuesday morning challenging his impeachment by the state legislature.
Meanwhile, a human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), on Tuesday commended the Imo State judiciary for upholding the basic tenet of the rule of law by stopping the swearing-in of a new deputy governor for the state.
Falana said, “While commending the Imo State Judiciary for upholding the basic tenet of the rule of law, we call on the Nigerian Bar Association and all democratic forces in the country to ensure that the restraining order is fully complied with.
“Let the legislators and Governor Okorocha purge themselves of contempt of court by continuing to recognise Prince Madumere as the Deputy Governor of Imo State, pending the determination of the pending suit before the state High Court on the validity of the impeachment proceedings adopted by the House of Assembly of Imo State.
“The members of the Benue State House of Assembly are advised to stop exposing the country to ridicule by familiarising themselves with the judgments of the courts with respect to illegal impeachment of former governors and deputy governors of Oyo, Plateau, Anambra, Taraba, Enugu etc.”
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Before you Run (1)
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