A lawyer, Barrister Aloy Ejimakor has commenced contempt proceeding against Chief Richard Ozobu, Chidi Ibeh, Uche Okwukwu and Okechukwu Isiguzoro over the parallel election of executives of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
In the originating suit which has former Imo Governor, Ikedi Ohakim as the Plaintiff, the court order restrained Ozobu and Okwukwu from conducting a parallel election to offices in Ohanaeze outside the one organised by an electoral committee set up by former president general, Chief Nnia Nwodo and headed by Chief Gary Igariwey.
Speaking to our correspondent, Barr Ejimakor said that It was the injunction that had enabled the electoral committee set up by Nwodo to conduct the election from which Prof George Obiozor emerged as president general of Ohaneze.
In a contempt suit against Ozobu, Okwokwu, Isiguzoro and Ibeh at the High Court, Owerri, Ohakim is seeking an order to commit the respondents to prison for “having disobeyed the order of this court made on the 5th day of January, 2021.”
The former governor stated in his sworn deposition that the court had restrained the respondents and their cohorts from “interfering in any manner whatsoever with the election of officers of Ohanaeze Ndigbo or from conducting a parallel election of the officers of Ohanaeze pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for Interlocutory injunction fixed January 11, 2021”.
The accompanying Motion filed by Barr Ejimakor stated that the respondents disobeyed the court order by unlawfully conducting a parallel election of the officers of Ohanaeze in which Okwukwu was purportedly elected Deputy President-General of Ohanaeze with Ibeh and Isiguzoro also purtortedly elected President and Secretary-General, respectively.
Ohakim told the court that by parading themselves as officers of Ohanaeze and shutting the group’s secretariat, the respondents had committed contempt of court. In the supporting affidavit, Ohakim said he had taken out Form 48 (Notice of Consequence of disobedience of court order) on March 8, 2021 against the respondents/contemnors, warning them to retrace their steps, which was served on them by the bailiff on March 9, 2021.
He also said that despite the “service of said Form 48, Respondents/Contemnors have not taken any steps to retrace their disobedience of said order, thus evidencing that they are unwilling to retrace their steps in the disobedience of the order of this honorable court unless they are compelled to do so.” The former governor said based on the foregoing, the court’s Registrar issued and served a Form 49 (Notice to show cause why order of Committal to prison should not be made) on the Respondents/Contemnors.
He said in ignoring the court Ozobu, Ibeh, Okwukwu and Isiguzoro are indirectly saying that the “court lacks the powers to restrain them from continuing on this part of disobedience of the said order of this court, thus necessitating this application.”
Ohakim said in the interest of justice the court should grant this application to commit the respindents to prison for contempt “as it furthers the overall integrity of orders of court and respect for the judiciary.”
Ejimakor said the matter is set for hearing on 5th May, 2021 and that the contemnors have been served by substituted means, including by publication in a national newspaper.