Okorocha’s case stalled by absence of judge

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Justice Ahmed Mohammed of an Abuja Federal High Court, was on Tuesday absent, thereby stalling the hearing of a motion filed by former Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, challenging the court’s jurisdiction in the suit brought before it.

The case, which was up for mention on the case list, could not proceed as the judge was not on seat. It was subsequently fixed for June 7 for mention.

It was reported that the defence in the suit, which included Eze Duru-Ihuoma, SAN, who is the 44th defendant, challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit.

Duru-Ihuoma had, on Sept. 22, 2021, stated that the suit filed by Okorocha did not disclose any reasonable cause of action, hence, the court lacked jurisdiction to hear it.

According to Duru-Ihuoma, the subject matter jurisdiction is not there in the suit and the application was alien to the law.

“The applicant (Okorocha) is claiming that because the EFCC is investigating him, the state government should fold its hands and not probe him.

“That is alien. Some of us had also argued that the former governor was simply saying, ‘extend my immunity.’

“But his immunity ended when he left office and he wants that immunity extended,” he told newsmen.

The Senior advocate said he was hopeful that the suit would be dismissed because it lacked merit.

It was reported that Okorocha, who is currently representing Imo West at the National Assembly, in a suit with number: FHC/ABJ/CS/558/2020 which was filed on May 28, 2020, had called on the court to restrain the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and others from probing him.

While the EFCC is the 1st respondent, the 2nd to 48th respondents are the Attorney General (AG) of Imo and members of the seven panels set up to probe previous administrations in the state.

It was also reported that Okorocha had, on June 29, 2021, begged the court to make an order setting aside the seizures and sealing of some of his property by the state government.

Okorocha further urged the court to restrain the defendants from investigating him or implementing the recommendations of the seven panels set up to probe him while he served as the state governor between June 2006 and May 2019 pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

The judge, on Aug. 11, 2021, declined Okorocha’s application seeking to stop the Imo State Government from taking further steps concerning his property on the grounds that the jurisdiction of the court had been challenged.

In a ruling, the judge held that making an order was tantamount to assuming jurisdiction in the suit.

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