By Ade Adesomoju, Abuja.
The Imo State Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice; Cyprian Akaolisa, has advised the numerous panels set up by the state government to investigate the eight-year administration of former Governor, Rochas Okorocha, to suspend their proceedings.
The AG’s lawyer; Debo Ikeusan, said this on Tuesday at the Federal High Court in Abuja while reporting compliance with an earlier undertaking to halt the proceedings of the panels pending when the court would determine whether or not it had jurisdiction to hear the suit instituted by Okorocha.
Okorocha had, through his lawyer; Oba Maduabuchi (SAN), during the previous proceedings of July 8, 2020, urged the court to make an order of interim injunction suspending the panels’ proceedings.
But Justice Mohammed rejected the request.
He said he would rather go by the undertaking made by Mr. Joseph Mola, who appeared for the AG and members of the various panels at the July 8, 2020 proceedings, to advise the AG to inform the panels to halt sittings in respect for the pending court case.
The judge had then adjourned till Wednesday for a report of compliance with the undertaking and with the court’s directive for the AG and the rest of the defendants to file a formal application challenging the court’s jurisdiction which they claimed the court lacked to hear Okorocha’s suit.
On Wednesday, Ikeusan informed the judge that he had filed the notice of preliminary objection and that Okorocah’s lawyers had responded to it.
He also said he complied with the undertaking made on behalf of the AG on July 8.
He said, “We have advised the panels, especially the 3rd to the10th defendants, who are the members of the probe panel set up by the Imo State Government, to desist from any action or conduct that will overreach or prejudice the determination of the suit.
But Okorocha’s lawyer, Emeka Okoye, insisted that the panel, particularly the Justice E. C Iheaka-led Imo State Probe Panel on awards of Contracts from May 2006 to May 2017, joined as the 3rd to the 10th defendants in the suit, had continued with its proceedings till Monday.
In response, Justice Mohammed asked Okoye to file an affidavit deposing to the fact that the panel continued sitting.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission sued as the 1st defendant in the case was not represent by any lawyer on Tuesday.
Ikuesan said his law firm had made futile efforts to have the commission served with the processes his clients had filed against the suit.
But Okoye said he had successfully served the commission with the originating summons and other processes, advised the defence lawyer to engage the court bailiffs instead of his chambers’ staff members.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed advised Ikuesan to explore the suggestion by Okoye, then adjourned till July 21 for a report of service and possible hearing.
He ordered that hearing notice be served on EFCC.
Okorocha, who currently represents Imo West in the Senate, had on May 18, 2020 filed his suit seeking an order stopping the 48 respondents in the suit from to stop probing “purported financial infractions” said to have been committed during his tenure as Governor of Imo State between May 2011 and May 2019.