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Imo Chief Judge declines to swear-in new deputy governor

Image result for COURT LOGOThere was drama at the Imo State Government House, Owerri, on Tuesday as a state High Court sitting in the state capital stopped the swearing-in ceremony of the  deputy governor-designate, Calistus Ekenze.
The Imo State House of Assembly had defied a court’s restraining order and went on to impeach Eze Madumere as the Deputy Governor of the state; while Governor Rochas Okorocha had nominated Calistus Ekenze as a replacement.
But the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Paschal Nnadi, was said to have declined the governor’s request to swear-in Ekenze as the new deputy governor as long as there was a court order restraining him from doing so.
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.
The chief judge mandated the governor to vacate the order if he must swear in Ekenze as the new deputy governor.
After waiting for four hours for the swearing-in of the deputy governor -designate following the impeachment of the former deputy governor, Eze Madumere, on Monday by the state House of Assembly, guests, government functionaries, including Governor Rochas Okorocha, were visibly disappointed as the court ordered the state Chief Judge not to proceed with the swearing-in ceremony.
While  guests, especially the deputy governor-designate and his family members were waiting for the CJ to commence the administering of the oath of office, the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General  of the state, Militus Nlemadium, broke  what became a bad news to the audience in the Sam Mbakwe hall.
Nlemadium told the audience that there was a court order made by Owerri High Court on Tuesday morning stopping the CJ from swearing-in the deputy governor-designate.
The attorney general told the guests not to despair, assuring them that the government had filed all legal process to set aside the court order.
Meanwhile, human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), on Tuesday commended the Imo State judiciary for upholding the basic tenets of the rule of law by stopping the swearing-in of deputy governor-designate for the state.
Falana said, “A few days ago, Honourable Justice Ben Iheka of the Imo State High Court granted an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the impeachment panel constituted by the Chief Judge of Imo State, the Honourable Justice Padcal Nnadi, from entertaining the allegations against Prince Ezeakonobi Madumere, the Deputy Governor of Imo State.
“In a demonstration of brazen contempt of court, the House of Assembly ignored the valid and subsisting court order and hurriedly passed a resolution for the purported impeachment of Prince Madumere as Deputy Governor of Imo State.
“Instead of calling the legislators to order by asking them to purge themselves of contempt of court Governor Okorocha announced Mr. Calistus Ekenze as the new Deputy Governor.
“Governor Rochas Okorocha directed the Chief Judge of Imo State to swear in the so-called new Deputy Governor.
“However, the Chief Judge rightly turned down the contemptuous directive of Governor Okorocha to swear in Mr. Ekenze as Deputy Governor of the State.
“In a historic solidarity with the Chief Judge, all the other Judges in High Court of Imo State have resolved not to lend judicial weight to the subversion of the rule of law by the legislative and executive organs of the Imo State Government.”
Falana, while commending the Imo State judiciary, called on the Nigerian Bar Association to ensure the order of the Chief Judge of the state was complied with.
He 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 order of the Chief Judge 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.”

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