George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
The founder of MASSOB/BIM, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, has been sentenced to one month in prison by a judge of an Owerri high court in Imo State for disobeying the order of the court to appear before in a case in which he is plaintiff.
Presiding Justice Kemakolam Ojiako made the order on June 6, 2018, in the civil case, HOW/265/2013, between Uwazuruike (plaintiff) and Barr. Chigozie Iheama and others over a land dispute.
This was even as the judge, on the June 12, signed a warrant for the arrest of the pro-Biafra leader.
Ruling on the motion on notice filed on July 6, 2017, by C.K. Okorie, counsel to the defendant, praying the court to commit the plaintiff/contemnor to prison for disobeying the order of the court, Ojiako ruled that, “The plaintiff, Chief Raphael Uwazuruike, is hereby found guilty of contempt/disobedience to the said order of court made on April 2, 2017.
“That the plaintiff, Chief Raphael Uwazuruike, is hereby committe/sentenced to prison custody and shall be so detained for a period of one month from the date of his commitment to prison.”
Ojiako also restrained Uwazuruike, his agents, privies or servants from entering into the said land pending the determination of the action.
The judge adjourned proceedings to July 10, 2018.
However, Emmanuel Chukwuka, counsel to the MASSOB/BIM leader, said that they had earlier appealed the contempt proceedings at the Appeal Court, which was slated for hearing on October 2, 2019, but the judge has continued with the contempt proceedings.
“The ruling of the court has been appealed at the Court of Appeal but Justice Ojiako insists he will continue with the matter, rather than stay proceedings in the matter, as is the normal practice,” he said.