For the third time, embattled Imo deputy governor, Prince Eze Madumere has again trounced the Governor,Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha in the temple of justice.
The deputy had before yesterday’s judicial victory stopped the planned inauguration of Mr Calistus Ekenzethe serving Head of Service, who was nominated as his successor via an order granted by the same Justice Benjamin Iheka who had ordered that status quo remains until the determination of the suit brought by Prince Madumere.
Prior to that an Abuja Federal High Court had ordered the State House of Assembly to stay action on the planned impeachment, an order which was however, ignored by the Speaker Acho Ihim led House.
But, after protracted legal brickbat the Owerri High Court finally drew the curtain on the matter by declaring that the impeachment did not follow due process and as such is illegal, null, void and of no effect.This judgement however came yesterday, not to the surprise of many Imolites
Also, the learned judge, declared that Prince Madumere still remains the authentic number two citizen of the state.
Prince Madumere’s impeachment saga had assumed a new twist on July 30, when the Assembly passed a resolution to impeach him.
The House had alleged gross misconduct on the part of the deputy governor and proceeded to list the misconduct to include absence from office without duly obtained permission for a period of three months; failure to perform the constitutional functions of office of the deputy governor; refusal to attend, and to hold meetings with the governor and commissioners of the government of Imo state for the governance of Imo state made compulsory by and under S.193(2) of the 1999 constitution; and concealment of felonious conduct affecting the presentation of self as eligible candidate for the office of deputy governor of Imo state despite having been convicted and imprisoned, for theft in the United States of America.
But delivering the more than four- hour judgment in suit number HOW/565/2018, instituted by Madumere to challenge his removal from office, Justice Iheka held that “the appointment of the seven-man panel to investigate the allegations of gross misconduct, made by the 9th and 10th defendants (Speaker, Imo State House of Assembly and Imo State House of Assembly), against the plaintiff is invalid, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect.”
The Court equally restrained the panelists from, in whatsoever manner, investigating or continuing to investigate the allegations made by the 9th and 10th defendants against the plaintiff, or sitting or continuing to sit, or to inquire or continue to inquire, or deliberate or continue to deliberate on the allegations against the plaintiff, or make findings or continue to make findings against the plaintiff.
Apart from restraining the panelists from, in whatsoever manner presenting, submitting or delivering any report or findings to the 9th and 10th defendants on its purported investigation against the plaintiff, Justice Iheka also restrained the 9th and 10th defendants from in whatsoever manner receiving or accepting or acting on any report presented by the panelists.
The Court further upheld the submission of the plaintiff’s counsel, Prince Ken C. O. Njemanze, SAN, that it was unconditional for the Chief Judge to have constituted the panel during the pendency of suit number HOW/531/2018, in respect of the validity of the 10th defendant’s motion and the 9th defendant to constitute the said panel.
By this judgment, Prince Madumere has bounced back to his office, though feelers are that the government is gearing up to appeal the judgment but as at the time of going to the press no action, it was gathered had been initiated by the government.
Reacting to the judgment, president Olu Owerri Assembly, Comrade Martin Opara described the judgment as sweet victory for democracy and people of the state, adding the it has again reinforced the confidence of the people in the judiciary as the last hope of the common man.
He urged the people of Imo state to stand up and join the likes of the deputy governor, Prince Madumere and other individuals fighting in defence of democracy, so as to stop undemocratic elements from wrecking the country’s hard earned democracy.
Speaking also, the plaintiff’s counsel, Prince Njemanze said: “This is a landmark decision in the annals of the legal history of Imo State. For us, justice and truth has prevailed. It is also clear that disobedience of Court Order or disrespect for Court processes, are things that ought not be encouraged by every person.
“This is the message the Court has sent to everybody today (yesterday). I commend the industry and courage of the presiding Judge, for the well considered judgment delivered today (yesterday).”