THE Owerri High Court in the Imo State capital on Tuesday adjourned indefinitely after witnessing legal fireworks between the Deputy Governor’s legal team led by Chief Ken Njemanze (SAN) – backed by Professor Francis Dike (SAN) – and counsel to Imo State House of Assembly led by the Attorney-General of Imo State, Mr. Miletus Nlemadim.
In a motion filed on behalf of the plaintiff, Prince Eze Madumere, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria had prayed the Presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Benjamin Iheka, to set aside the purported impeachment of the Deputy Governor, describing the alleged action as illegal since there was a subsisting court order made in High Court 8 also presided over by Justice Iheka.
The Senior Advocate told the court that the alleged action of lawmakers was meant to ridicule Imo State High Court of competent jurisdiction. He, therefore, called of the presiding Judge to invoke the inherent powers of the court to address the violation so as to avoid subjecting the court to ridicule.
Njemanze (SAN) revealed that there was constitutional breach in the constitution of the 7 man panel, arguing that the Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Paschal Nnadi allegedly failed to set the said panel within the specified 7 days prescribed by the Constitution, thereby rendering the panel null, void and of no effect.
“When the Constitution says that the CJ must act within the specified time, he must comply, otherwise his act thereafter will be null, void and of no effect. The prescribed time cannot be enlarged or extended without doing extensive harm to the Constitution and the aggrieved party.
“From the facts before this honourable court, the CJ appointed the seven-man panel on July 20, 2018, and the Defendants clearly confirmed this date in their counter-affidavits. The appointment was made nine days after the motion by the House of Assembly and the request of the Assembly Speaker.
We urge this honourable court to hold that having done so outside the stipulated time, the appointment of the seven-man panel by the CJ is null, void and of no effect.
“They did not find it worthy to exhibit the document in court. The presumption on our side is that no such document exists and the court should so hold.”
Continuing, he queried the purported report of the panel, which he showed to the court, which had no signatory either was the name of any of the members of the panel found on it, describing it as a mere piece of paper.
However, the lead Counsel to the Speaker and Imo State House of Assembly, Chief Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), described Njemanze’s call for the court to invoke its inherent powers to protect itself from ridicule against any members of the parties in the suit as a dangerous invitation tacitly to punish his clients.
In a swift argument, Attorney-General argued that the court has no jurisdiction to determine the impeachment case filed by the plaintiff, thereby calling for its dismissal, which was vehemently opposed by Prince Madumere’s lead counsel.
To the consternation of many, the Attorney-General of the State also raised the issue of non-service of the originating summon and other court processes on the defendants, especially that of the members of the panel.
It will be recalled that the Presiding Judge had granted an order allowing the plaintiff to serve the members of the said seven-man panel through the office of the Chief Judge since they were allegedly unknown to them.
The counsel to the plaintiff and that of the defendants were able to make all their submissions and the court was adjourned to an undisclosed date. The presiding Judge promised to contact counsel to the parties in the matter through text messages.
– Sept. 5, 2018 @ 16:35 GMT |