It’s victory for democracy —Madumere
Judgment, warning to Okorocha —Ihedioha, Ohakim
By Chidi Nkwopara & Chinonso Alozie
OWERRI—AN Imo State High Court presided over by Justice Benjamin Iheka, yesterday, quashed the purported impeachment of the Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, by members of the State House of Assembly.
Delivering the 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.
The court further upheld the submission of the plaintiff’s counsel, Prince Ken Njemanze, SAN, that it was unconditional for the Chief Judge to have constituted the panel during the pendency of the suit in respect of the validity of the 10th defendant’s motion and the 9th defendant to constitute the said panel.
“I hold that the appointment of the 2nd to 8th defendants, by the Chief Judge, as members of the panel to investigate the allegations of gross misconduct made against the plaintiff by the 9th and 10th defendants, is unconditional and invalid, within the meaning of Section 188(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended”, Iheka said.
Victory for democracy—Madumere
Speaking to Vanguard after, 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 have prevailed. It is also clear that disobedience of court order or disrespect for court processes are things that ought not to be encouraged by every person.
“I commend the industry and courage of the presiding Judge for the well considered judgment delivered today (yesterday).”
Also, while speaking to his supporters, Madumere, described his victory at the Owerri High Court as victory for constitutional democracy.
…thanks Ihedioha, Ohakim, Afe Babalola, Fani Kayode
The deputy governor used the opportunity to thank the former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha; immediate past governor of Imo state, Ikedi Ohakim; Afe Babalola, SAN; and Femi Fani Kayode, for standing against injustice in Imo State.
Madumere said: “I am thanking God Almighty for his amazing grace. Truly, it has been a journey of grace. It is a victory for constitutional democracy. I want to commend the judiciary for the courage against all odds.
“I commend the three Mbaise brothers, who are members of Imo state House of Assembly, who refused to join in the impeachment: Mr. Mike Iheanetu, Bruno Ukoha and Ken Agbim. They are of the PDP but they stood by me.
“I salute all my party members: Ifeanyi Nnatataonye, Chiji Collins, Nkenna Nzeruo and Donatus Onuigwe. Posterity will remember you all.
“I will ever remain humble to Afe Babalola, SAN; Femi Fani Kayode; my brother, former Deputy Speaker House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha; former governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim; and my other brothers. God will fight for you.”
Ihedioha, Ohakim react
In his reaction, the former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, yesterday said the judgment which has ended the impeachment saga should serve as a warning to Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha in order to retrace his steps.
This is as the immediate past governor of the state, Ikedi Ohakim said the judgment was not about Madumere but democracy and Imo State.
Ihedioha, in a statetement by his Chief Press Secretary, Chibike Onyekwu, said: “the former deputy speaker, Emeka Ihedioha described the judgement as a landmark and commended the judiciary for delivering justice and saving our democracy from ridicule.
“He tasked Okorocha to as a matter of urgency, retrace his steps in the twilight of his administration”.
Ohakim, through his Chief Press Secretary, Collins Ughalla, said: “His Excellency, Dr. Ikedi Ohakim knew that that charade called impeachment was contrary to legal provisions.”
That was why he threw his weight behind Deputy Governor Eze Madumere. “In several newspaper and radio interviews he said that the impeachment was illegal. In fact, he fought against it and today the court has proved he was right.”
“It was not just about Madumere but about our state and democracy. As former Governor Ohakim could not keep quiet while one man continued to ride roughshod on all of us. He had to step in and fight the illegality. Today Imo people have won, democracy has won, Madumere has won.
“Beyond this, Imo people should know that they have been living with a Governor who has no respect for the laws of the land and who can do anything to achieve his devilish goals.
“But Imo people must stop him from installing his son in-law as Governor in 2019. Credible persons like Ikedi Ohakim who has the deepest respect for the laws of our land are needed to resolve the problems created by Okorocha.”