Tongues are wagging and speculations are rife that the owner of Empire Energy Filling Station located along Owerri/Aba road, Naze in Owerri North LGA of Imo State has called the bluff of a court of competent jurisdiction as the expansive premises and it’s appeturances that were sealed on Wednesday 5th August, 2020, in execution of a court order has been re-opened for business.
When contacted, Dr Philip Njemanze, Medical Director of New Chidicon Medical Centre who challenged the unlawful revocation of his property by former governor Okorocha in Suit No: HOW/919/2012 and eventually got a favourable judgement, said, he did not know if the respondent in the matter appealed the judgement or applied for stay of execution. He however said that he has not been served with any court document in respect of appeal or stay of execution, since after the court enforced it’s judgement.
Recall that the expansive premises presently occupied by Empire Energy and Mega Filling Station, located along Owerri/Aba road, Naze belongs to Dr Philip Njemanze, who in his capacity as Chairman of African Anti-Abortion Coalition, advocated and championed the campaign against the Imo State House of Assembly and Governor Rochas Okorocha for surreptiously passing a bill that legalized abortion and signing it into law respectively. The protests generated by Dr Njemanze’s mobilization and awareness campaign, compelled the state government and legislature to repeal the obnoxious and repugnant abortion law which they subtly named “violence against persons (prohibitions) law No 12 of 2012″.
Shortly after repealing the abortion law, former Governor Okorocha, in an action seen by most people as vendetta, revoked the Certificate of Occupancy of the property that duly belongs to Dr Philip Njemanze and allegedly allocated the place to a proxy, Comrade Benneth Okorie, who built the filling station said to be worth billions of naira on the site.
Dr Njemanze as a dogged social crusader, human rights activist and scion of the famous Njemanze Royal dynasty of Amawom, Owerri “Nchi Ise” who vowed never to allow greedy people with gluttonous acquisition tendency to fraudulently take possession of his hard earned property, approached an Owerri High Court, presided over by Hon Justice N.B Ukoha, who entered judgement in his favour, on 28th November, 2019, after five years of a legal battle that commenced on 3rd December, 2012, when he initiated the suit.
Justice Ukoha in her judgement, faulted Governor Okorocha’s revocation of Dr Njemanze’s Certificate of Occupancy dated 19th November, 1995, and registered as No 46 on page 46, in volume 308 of the lands registry, Owerri in it’s Owerri office.
The Judge further declared that the purported revocation of the statutory Certificate of Occupancy dated 19th November, 1995 through a revocation order, dated 25 May, 2013, is unlawful, vindictive, illegal, null and void and of no effect.
She rules that, “the revocation order made by the then Commissioner for lands, Survey and Urban Development, Uche Nwosu, dated 24th May, 2013 in respect of plot 6, parcel B within Naze road, North and Naze Industrial Layout Owerri, is hereby set aside”.
The said judgement which perpetually restrained the defendants, their servants, agents, officers and hirelings from entering, trespassing or interfering in whatever manner in the property seems to have been violated by Okorocha’s proxy, simply identified as Comrade Benneth Okorie, of Empire Energy.
A cross section of Imo people who commented on the sudden and questionable reopening of the filling station for business, contrary to the judgement and declaration of an Owerri High Court, said, they are at a loss and presently studying the situation to know exactly what is happening. “The court is the common man’s last resort, it will be a catastropy, if it is castrated or it’s orders and pronouncements jettisoned at will, by people who feel they have contacts”. “It will also send a dangerous signal if the government and those concerned keep silent in the face of such aberration”.
Effort to reach the chief Executive officer, of the company, Mr Benneth Okorie to ascertain if he got stay of execution order or set aside the judgement proved abortive as he did not take his calls or reply same.