From Tony John, Port Harcourt and Stanley Uzoaru,Owerri
A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has said the recent order of the court that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should not harass the former governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha, pending the determination of the case, still subsists.
Justice Stephen Pam stated this, yesterday, saying the judgment of the court on December 6, 2021, has not been set aside, and that parties in the matter should wait till the court made a decision on the case.
Meanwhile, the proceeding on the fundamental human rights suit by Okorocha against the EFCC has suffered a setback following a fresh application by the anti-graft agency.
The court had on February 8, 2022, adjourned the case in Suit Number FHC/PH/FHR/165/2021, brought by Okorocha against EFCC, till yesterday, for hearing on the grounds of late service of processes on the respondent, the EFCC.
However, when sitting resumed yesterday, EFCC approached the court with a fresh motion on notice, praying the court for substitution of the document earlier filed.
Counsel for the EFCC, G.K. Latona, withdrew an earlier motion on notice he filed and replaced it with a fresh motion.
“We actually filed a motion on notice this morning, the import of our motion is to substitute the motion dated 7th December, 2021. I seek to withdraw our earlier motion dated and filed on 7th of December, 2021, along with the further affidavit deposed on 8th December, 2021.”
Latona said the EFCC was not going contrary to the judgement of court, noting that there was no fundamental point to prove the claims of contempt.
But, counsel to Okorocha, Ola Olanipekun (SAN), said the fresh motion on notice has stalled the hearing of the matter.
“We want to take a break. EFCC came this morning with a new application and we need to file fresh counter affidavit to that. We do not object to the application and in furtherance to that application we apply to withdraw a counter-affidavit and written address, which we filed on 14th January, 2022. We also seek to withdraw the motion on notice dated 14th December, 2021, seeking to regularise the counter-affidavit aforementioned.”
He prayed the court to advise EFCC to refrain from taking further steps on the arraignment, saying that one cannot remain in disobedience and claim to be pushing further charges in law.
The court, however, adjourned the case till April 4 for hearing.
Meanwhile, despite its unofficial launch in the Imo State, the Ebubeagu security outfit has been accused of breaching the peace of some communities in the state.
This comes as the state government has not officially explained the rationale behind the actions of the outfit that has not been officially introduced to citizens.
Recently, a 22-year-old boy, Chigozie Igbo, was allegedly killed by the security outfit at Umuoke, Atta Njaba. He was shot at close range as he made to run away.
Also, yesterday, there was pandemonium at Awommamma market as traders hurriedly shut down following news of Ebubeagu invading the place.
An eyewitness said Ebubeagu was in the market to counter the sit-at-home order directed by some members of Indigenous People of Biafra ( IPOB) in the area.
Awommama, Akatta, in Oru East Local Government Area, Umuoke, Atta, in Njaba Local Government Area, Umutanze, Okporo in Orlu Local Government Area are some of the areas Ebubeagu are alleged to have a strong control.
Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, who confirmed the presence of the outfit in the area, said the outfit, though not officially launched, was operational in the state.