The judge said that it was reprehensible for anybody to take an action when the matter for which the party was being restrained to act was pending in court.
George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
An Owerri High Court has quashed the impeachment of the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere, by the Imo State House of Assembly, saying that the process leading to the impeachment smacks of impunity and violation of the laid-down constitutional procedure.
READ ALSO: Imo deputy gov, Madumere, impeached
Justice Benjamin Iheaka, who gave the judgement yesterday, ruled that the seven-man panel constituted by the chief judge of the state was done outside the prescribed time within which the panel ought to be constituted. The judge, in his ruling, which lasted over three hours, said that it was reprehensible for anybody to take an action when the matter for which the party was being restrained to act was still pending in court.
He said: “The defendants were aware of the order of the court restraining them from further action pending the determination of the matter. But rather the defendants had gone ahead to carry out the impeachment.
“The argument by the state attorney-general that they were not served is not admissible in law because the counsel of the ninth to 10th defendant were present at the court and did not disclose if they were going to disobey the order of the court. So, the action of the defendants was carried after the proceedings of the court.”
Iheaka, who declared the reports of the seven-man panel as insignificant, null and void, as it was an illegal body, also made an order restraining the Imo State House of Assembly from further initiating processes whatsoever of impeachment of the deputy governor.
Meanwhile, Madumere has commended the judge for having the courage to deliver justice, saying that the judiciary was the last hope of the common man.
“I have been vindicated by the court over the trumped-up allegations against me just because I had expressed an interest to contest the governorship of the state. I must commend Justice Iheaka for his courage to do the right and has shown that the law is there to protect everyone, regardless of who is involved,” Madumere said.
Also, the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, commended the judiciary for delivering justice and saving democracy from ridicule. He admonished Governor Rochas Okorocha to retrace his steps as a matter of urgency in the twilight of his administration.
“Recall that I had earlier cautioned against the high level of impunity and dictatorship being exhibited by Okorocha,” he said.
Similarly, Mr. Okey Ezeh, a governorship aspirant in the state, said the verdict of the court was in order: “To be sure, it has strengthened the rule of law in Imo State and reestablished the collective subjugation of all to the laws of the land. Removing an office holder even when a subsisting court order stated otherwise was the height of impunity.
“The nullification of the impeachment is fit testimony to the malleability of the parliament we have in Imo. It further reminds us of the need to elect credible and morally astute men to the legislature.”