I was in Umuahia yesterday when I was informed that one of my client’s property was sealed, while the matter was still pending in court in Suit No: How/78/2021 between Opsilon Nig ltd Vs Imo state government and 5 others. I also heard that they have sealed the Eastern Palm University which is equally a subject of litigation in Suit No: FHC/OW/CH/15/2021.
Does this not amount to government taking over the role of the judiciary. I urge the state government to allow the judiciary to do their work. It is unlawful to seal one’s property without a valid court order. Even if there is a court order, it is the duty of the Court Bailiff to execute it and not the Commissioner for lands.
An erudite lawyer and Principal Partner of Ebubedike Chambers, Barr C.A.N Osondu stated this in an exclusive interview with Nigeria Watchdog Newspaper while reacting to the sealing of Royal Palm Estate, owned by the wife of former Governor Rochas Okorocha by the state government.
He faulted the sealing of the hotel as recommended by a Judicial Panel of Inquiry and a White Paper issued from it. According to him, “a judicial panel of enquiry is a quasi judicial that is only constituted to make findings and not to make orders that are enforceable in law. The so called white paper is not a court order and cannot take the place of a court order. Sealing one’s property on the basis of a white paper is an act of illegality, unlawful, unconstitutional and can’t stand in law.”
He posited that if there is a white paper, what the government should have done was to go to court to obtain a valid court order. If a case is in court, all parties involved, irrespective of status are expected to respect the court and avoid taking the law into their hands to avoid usurping the role and function of the court”.
He advised the Uzodinma led government to desist from taking extra judicial actions that project the administration in bad light. “If there is a breach or if you think that people did what they are not supposed to do or engaged in acts of official misconduct, the ideal thing is to approach the court to seek redress. With due respect to the commissioner for lands, what he displayed is an act of impunity that is unacceptable.”
Responding to a question Barr Osondu said the police has no right to declare Uche Nwosu wanted because there is no basis for that. He however hailed the magistrate who exercised powers to grant Okorocha supporters bail.
The fiery lawyer described those blaming Okorocha for his actions attention seekers or those who do so out of cowardice or to curry favour and patronage from the government in power.