Sequel to the reaffirmation of Dr Philip Njemanze’s victory by an Owerri High Court in Suit No How/919/2013 which he instituted against the governor of Imo State, Attorney General of Imo State, Commissioner for Lands, Survey and urban planning, Hon Rebertson Ekwebelem and Royal Rondek Nig Ltd in respect of the ownership of the large expanse of land presently occupied by Empire Energy oil and gas, along Owerri-Aba road, Naze, former governor Rochas Okorocha’s alleged proxy, Hon Ekwebelem is said to have proceeded to the court of appeal in a bid to reverse what he considers an unfavorable judgment.
It would be recalled that Hon Justice N.B Ukoha in her judgment in the matter on 28 November 2019, awarded the land to Dr Philip Njemanze, Medical Director of New Chidicon Hospital, Owerri before she retired from service. She was however unable to sign the execution order before Hon Justice Orjiakor took over.
Thereafter, Empire Energy approached the court, now presided over by Hon Justice K.A Orjiakor to set aside the judgment delivered by Justice Ukoha before her retirement on the ground that he was not party to the original suit. Hon Justice Orijako in his ruling on the matter reaffirmed the original judgment that awarded the land in dispute to Dr Philip Njemanze.
The judge however blamed the Bailiff for not ensuring that all eviction papers served on Empire Energy to vacate the area were signed by a serving judge since Justice Ukoha who delivered the original judgment had retired from service. “This must be done forth rightly to accomplish the eviction order.”
Some legal pundits who commented on the issue, wondered why some people are misrepresenting the facts of the matter because of selfish interest.” If Empire Energy got a favorable judgment why is he then approaching the court of appeal. Hon Justice Orjiakor reaffirmed the original judgment in favour of Dr Njemanze. He only faulted the procedural violation in the eviction process. The Bailiff erred by signing the order instead of presenting it to the new judge for signature. That is all.”
Hon Ekwebelem, in a recent chat with newsmen disclosed that he has concluded plans to appeal against the judgment. He also acknowledged that the said property belonged to Dr Njemanze before it was revoked by the state government because of the latter’s inability to develop it after 19 years.
In a swift reaction, Dr Philip Njemanze debunked Ekwebelem’s claims, streaming that, there were two structures on the dispulated land, before the forcefully took over the land.” One of them is still standing there visibly.”
Njemanze further stated that he does not believe in media trial.” I am waiting to meet those who are bent on fraudulently acquiring my land at the appeal court, in line with my decision to allow them to exhaust and take advantage of all lawful avenues available to them.”