Chief C.O.C. Akaolisa, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Imo State, has accused Sen. Rochas Okorocha of gross abuse of court processes in his desperate bid to stop the state probe panel set up to investigate alleged financial infractions and malfeasances committed by him during his eight year tenure as Governor, notoriously said to be locust eaten years.
Akaolisa told Justice Ahmed Muhammed of the Federal High Court at the Tuesday July 21, 2020, sitting in Abuja, that, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Senator representing Imo West Senatorial District had in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/558/2020 filed on May 28, urged the court to restrain the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Imo panel from probing his government activities between 2011 and 2019.
Other defendants in the suit are the Attorney General of Imo; members of the Judicial Commission on Lands and Related Matters, members of the panel to investigate the activities of ISOPADEC; members of the panel to investigate the status of the newly established Tertiary institutions; members of the investigative committee for financial transactions in Imo; Committee for the Review of appointments, recruitments and related matters from 2015 till date and the Committee for the investigation of LGAs, etc.
At the resumed hearing on Tuesday, July 21, 2020, Okorocha’s counsel, Oba Maduabuchi (SAN), informed the court that the matter was slated for hearing of the motion on notice for an interlocutory injunction to stop the actions of the defendants. He hinted that despite an undertaking by J.M. Mathew, counsel to 2nd to 48th defendants, the state panel had continued its sitting, thus compelling Okorocha, his son-inlaw, Uche Nwosu and Finance Commissioner, Chike Okafor to appear before it.
On the July 8, 2020, Mr Matthew, who appeared for 2nd to 48th defendants, undertook solemnly on record and from the bar that his clients will cease all investigations until motion on notice for injunction is determined.
“I deeply regret to say that the next day, July 9, one of the first set of defendants sat on July 9. It also sat on July 17”, he said.
Maduabuchi said he had filed an affidavit on Monday to that effect. The lawyer said only a formal order by the court could restrain them from continuing the sitting pending the determination of the matter.
Counsel to EFCC, Ekele Iheanacho, who apologized for the commission’s non-representation in court since the commencement of the case, said the case file was forwarded to him the previous day.
“We pray the court for time to respond to the motion on notice,” he appealed.
Responding, Akaolisa said though Mathew, who appeared in the last adjourned date narrated what transpired in court to him, he had expected to respond to the issue orally only to be “confronted with an affidavit just served on us today”.
He said it was disheartening that Maduabuchi had not explained the very circumstances of the case to the court.
According to him, Maduabuchi filed a suit against the 2nd to 10th defendants at Owerri High Court in Imo, seeking to stop them from further proceeding of their investigations or probe.
“My learned SAN (Maduabuchi) filed the same application here, seeking for an interlocutory injunction to stop them (the panel) from sitting”, he explained.
Akaolisa said the Owerri court refused to grant their prayers. “It is uncharitable that he filed this case without informing this court about the ruling that was delivered by another court in Owerri precisely.
It is the same issue he is canvassing; one in Owerri and one here, to stop the panel from sitting.
My lord, I urge you to take our preliminary objection first because this is an abuse of court process. It will be better to hear the preliminary objection before any other thing my lord”, he added.
Akaolisa further told the court that some commissioners during Okorocha’s government had appeared before the panel, including the former Governor’s counsel.
However, he said when the panel summoned Okorocha to appear to answer questions regarding some issues; the former Governor began to run from one court or the other, seeking for a restraining order, since he is afraid of being disgrace as the mastermind and planner and sole executor of the massive looting of public treasury, lands and properties in Imo State.
“My lord, the plaintiff has four suits before Justice Taiwo against EFCC, ICPC, and all agencies on anti-corruption in his bid to stop them from investigating him”, Akaolisa told the court.
Justice Mohammed, who declined to give an order restraining the panel from sitting, told counsel to Imo government that the panel must not conclude the exercise until the court determines the substantive suit before it.
The judge then adjourned the matter until August 5th, 2020, for hearing of the preliminary objection to continue.
An embattled Okorocha by the decision of Justice Muhammed, has failed woefully to stop his own investigation and it is a shame to him and family that after eight (8) years, he cannot account to Imo people.