Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Hearing in the suit filed by the Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) demanding his certificate of return has taken another dimension. Senator Osita Izunaso, one of the defendants in the case has petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC), the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court over the conduct of Justice Okon Abang.
In the said suit, Okorocha urged the court to compel INEC to issue him with a certificate of return as the winner of the Imo West senatorial seat.
However, not satisfied with the conduct of Justice Abang in handling the proceedings, Izunaso who is the third defendant in the case, asked the NJC and the senior judicial officer to intervene in the matter.
The petition titled, “Re: Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/296/2019 – Rocha’s Okorocha vs Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and others, petition against Hon Justice O. E Abang,” chronicled the alleged acts of misconduct on the part of the judge.
Specifically, the petitioner, Izunoso, premised his petition on the ground that Justice Abang barred his counsel from representing him and foisted another counsel, whom he did not brief on him.
According to the petitioner, “other prejudicial act to frustrate the proceedings in this case, the detail facts in respect of the above complaints are contained in my affidavit attached to this petition and I rely on the affidavit as a ground for this petition.”
The court had last Friday, ordered counsel to Izunaso, Prince Orji Nwafor-Orizu to produce a medical report from a recognised government psychiatric hospital confirming that he is mentally stable to appear before the court.
In addition, the court also held that Orizu must equally enter an undertaken to be of good conduct throughout the hearing and conclusion of the matter, not just before the Federal High Court in Abuja, but before any other superior court of record.
When the matter came up today, Izunoso was in court without a legal representation as Nwafor-Orizu failed to show up.
Accordingly, Izunoso applied for an adjournment to enable him engage another counsel to represent him in court, pending when Nwafor-Orizu will return.
In his affidavit of facts deposed by him, Izunoso told the court that he just returned to Nigeria from the Republic of Rwanda on May 19, 2019, only to be told by his counsel that the court had made the above order against his counsel.
He also pleaded with the court that he would not be able to proceed with the case as he was not a lawyer.
Regardless, Justice Abang refused the application for adjournment and ordered Izunaso to proceed with the adoption of his briefs already filed before the court.
Before adjourning the case till today, the court invoked its powers under the rules to adopt the briefs filed by counsel to Izunaso.