It was a day of anguish and disappointment for Gov Rochas Okorocha and his supporters who had thronged the venue of the swearing in Mr Callistus Ekenze, as the Imo State new deputy governor, following the halting of the inuaguration by a High Court in Owerri.
Gov Okorocha, his would be deputy, Mr Callistus Ekenze, other government functionaries, members of the State Assembly who had impeached Prince Eze Madumere on Monday, and other members of the APC faction loyal to the governor were left dejected and disappointed after waiting in vain for over four hours for the State Chief Judge, Justice Pascal Nnadi to come and administer necessary oaths of office on Mr Ekenze.
Nigeria Newspoint reliably gathered that while the governor and his supporters were decked out in their resplendent Regalia’s and waiting contentedly for the ceremony an Owerri High Court presided over by Justice Benjamin Iheka was issuing an order stopping the swearing in of the new deputy governor.
The state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Militus Nlemadim who broke the bad news to the audience at the Sam Mbakwe Exco Chamber Govt House Owerri, disclosed that the order restraining the Chief Judge of the State from administering oaths of office and allegiance on Mr Ekenze was made yesterday (Tuesday) morning.
Sources told our correspondent that the Chief Judge told Gov Okorocha that the order had tied him from performing the task of swearing in stressing that it would setting very bad precedent for him as the chief judge to be seen as disobeying court order.
He was said to have also expressed readiness to do the needful once the order was properly vacated.
According to our correspondent Mr Nlemadim assured the governor and those present that the necessary steps needed to vacate the order have been taken assuring that it’s vacation would happen in a matter of days.
By this sudden twist, some respite seem to have come the way of the deputy governor who has been seriously embattled in the last couple of days, with peak being his impeachment on Monday despite court order restraining the House from continuing with the process.
Meanwhile, in what seems a sudden turnaround the government yesterday also claimed it ordered the Chief Judge not swear in Mr Ekenze.
The government which made this claim in a press release issued and signed by Sam Onwuemeodo, Gov Okorocha’s Chief Press Secretary, said the governor gave the directive to halt the swearing in through the Mr Nlemadim.
According to Mr Onwuemeodo, the governor insisted that the interim order be obeyed not minding issues raised by senior lawyers in the government adding that the governor insisted that his administration would continue to obey valid court orders on it and its agents.
But, some lawyers who reacted to this position described the claim as laughable and baseless noting that it is not in the nature of the governor to obey court orders.
A senior lawyer who craved anonymity expressed shock at the claim arguing that the Gov Okorocha has disobeyed court orders more than any other state governor and listed some of them to include court orders that restrained from demolition of Ekeukwu Owerri, Sacking of Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, sacking of validly elected LGA officials among others to numerous to mention, the lawyer noted