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Irregular application stalls hearing on Ohanaeze leadership crisis

An Enugu High Court presided over by Justice A. O. Onovo, on Wednesday adjourned hearing on the Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo leadership crisis due to irregular application by the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs had through their Counsel, Mr Simeon Ogbu, applied to regularise their process, including their written address and writ of summons.

Ruling on a counter application by the defence counsel, Chief James Ukenyi (SAN), the court held that a process which the plaintiffs sought to regularise their application was non-existent in the eye of the law.

However, Ukenyi had opposed the motion on the grounds that the documents they sought to regularise were not before the court.

“I refer your lordship to the written address of the counsel which does not have a stamp and is at variance with Order 39, Rule 1 (2),” he said.

The defence counsel said that any process which did not comply with the aforementioned authority could not be deemed to be before the court.

“The written address has not been authenticated and filed before the court and cannot even carry the weight of a document that can be sought to be regularised,” Ukenyi said.

Responding, Ogbu applied for an adjournment to enable the plaintiffs to properly bring the processes before the court.

He said that the motion paper was properly filed as it had their seal and signature as expected by law.

Ogbu, however, agreed that their written address had no seal as they thought it could not exist independent of the motion which was properly filed.

The matter was adjourned to April 12 for the plaintiffs to regularise their process and a cost of N10, 000 preferred against them.

The court had earlier ruled against the appearance of Chief Elechi Onyia (SAN) as the plaintiffs lead counsel.

Ruling in an application brought by the defence counsel, Onovo held that the appearance of Onyia as lead counsel midway into the matter amounted to change of counsel.

The judge said that Onyia’s appearance did not follow due process and was against Order 48, Rule 4 of the court.

The defence counsel had drawn the attention of the court to the sudden representation of the plaintiffs by Onyia, which he said, amounted to change of counsel without due process.

“On Jan. 11 the plaintiffs appeared with a different counsel and that is the man we know because allowing Onyia will amount to using double counsel with different addresses,” Ukenyi said.

The plaintiffs are Dr Haron Ajah, Chief Ralph Okafor and one other for themselves and on behalf of caretaker executives of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo led by Chief Ralph Obioha.

The respondents are Chief Enwo Igariwey and executive members of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo.

The plaintiffs had prior to the conduct of the election of the apex Igbo socio-cultural association that produced Chief John Nnia Nwodo as President General, obtained an injunction against the election.

Their reason was that the association had a parallel leadership and needed to harmonise after a truce was called by Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo in the interest of the people.


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