*BIM reacts to Uwazuruike’s sentence
By Chidi Nkwopara
OWERRI— Imo State Police Command says it has not received any Order of Court, directing it to trail, arrest and handover the leader of Biafra Independence Movement, BIM, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, to the Nigerian Prisons, to serve his one month imprisonment.
The Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Andrew Enwerem, a superintendent of police, made the position of the command known in a telephone interview with Vanguard yesterday.
“I am not aware that the command has received any Order of Court, asking us (police) to trail and arrest Chief Ralph Uwazuruike. We have only read about the issue in the newspapers and it will not be proper to act based on what we read from the dailies”, Mr. Enwerem said.
Answering another question, the Imo State Police Command’s PRO, promised that “as a law enforcement agency, the police will appropriately carry out the Order of Court when and if we receive it”.
Reacting also, Uwazuruike’s counsel, Mr. Emmanuel Chukwuka, was of the view that the order to jail his client was “an abuse of court process”, especially as they had since appealed against the hearing of the suit.
He also recalled that the presiding judge, Hon. Justice Kemakolam Ojiako, insisted on going ahead with the matter.
“While Justice Ojiako ruled that the substantive proceeding is adjourned to July 10, 2018, to await the outcome of the motion for stay of proceedings, hearing on the appeal suit comes up October 2, 2018”, Chukwuka said.
Chief Uwazuruike had in 2013, dragged Chigozie Iheama to court, over a land deal, vide suit number HOW/265/2013.
Vanguard recalls that Justice Ojiako sentenced the contemnor, upon reading the Motion on Notice, filed July 6, 2017, which urged the Court to commit Uwazuruike to prison for disobeying the Order of Court, handed down April 2, 2014, and having taken cognisance of the unchallenged oral evidence of the first defendant, Chigozie Iheama, as well as all the exhibits tendered during the proceedings.
The judge was not particularly happy that “Uwazuruike consistently absented himself from Court, even as he is aware that every contempt proceeding is considered as a quasi-criminal matter.”
Meantime, the leadership of Biafra Independence Movement, BIM, and Movement for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, yesterday, expressed dismay at the order of Justice Kemakolam Ojiako of Owerri High Court, which ordered that its founder / leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, be committed to prison custody and shall be so detained for a period of one month, in a matter that had been appealed and which has been slated for hearing on October 2, 2018.
Their position was made public via a press statement signed by the Biafra Director of Information, Mazi Chris Mocha.
“The members of BIM and MASSOB are solidly behind our leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike and his counsel, Barr. Emmanuel Chukwuka. We urge the presiding Judge, Justice Kemakolam Ojiako, to follow the normal legal practice and stay proceedings in the matter.
“We see it as a kangaroo ruling and only intended to impress the Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, and cause disaffection among the Igbo populace,” Mocha said.