Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Contrary to reports that the court has not declined to stop a probe on former Imo Governor Rochas Okorocha’s matter brought before it by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) bordering on alleged financial dealings in Imo State, Okorocha has claimed that the court only directed that the state government and the probe panels should not do anything that would impinge on the ‘Rex of the matter’.
Okorocha, who disclosed this in a press statement by his Special Adviser on media, Sam Onwuemeodo, said the directive was given after the counsel to the state government had made an oral undertaken to that effect.
Despite the directive by the court, however, Okorocha complained that Justice BC Iheaka’s panel has continued to sit.
According to Okorocha, ‘we want to state that the court presided over by Justice Ahmed Mohammed did not decline or refuse to stop the probe of Senator Rochas Okorocha by the EFCC and the Imo State Government.
‘If that report was to be true, the court would not have again adjourned to Tuesday, July 14, 2020, when the court would decide on the orders, sought by Okorocha.
‘The most exciting thing that happened in the court on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, was that the judge extracted an oral undertaking from the lawyer that represented the Attorney General of the State, Mr Joseph Matthew, that the panels would not sit again during the pendency of the matter,’ Okorocha stated.
He continued: ‘Following this undertaking by Barr Matthew, the judge then directed that all the parties in the matter should not do anything that would tamper with the Rex of the matter. The import of this directive does not require interpretation.
‘And what prompted the judge to give this directive was that Barr Matthew, for the Attorney General of the state, had told the court that the panels had stopped sitting.
‘But counsel to Senator Okorocha, Chief Maduabuchi Obah, SAN, showed the judge the publication by Justice BC Iheaka’s panel on contracts award that Wednesday, inviting the former governor and others to appear before it on selected dates. At that point, the judge was angry and then gave the directive in question.
‘Unfortunately, and we want to complain that, in spite of the directive of Justice Mohammed, the judicial panel headed by Justice BC Iheaka has continued to sit. It sat on Thursday, July 9, 2020, a day after Justice Mohammed gave the directive.
‘And all these are in desperation to get at Okorocha and the family. Otherwise, a judge ought to know that once a matter is before a court every other action on that matter should be suspended.
‘Again, the EFCC lawyer was not also in court on that Wednesday. The court then directed that all the processes and hearing notice should be served on the Commission to enable its lawyer to come on the adjourned date.
‘We want to also make it clear that Okorocha has never been against his probe. But only taking exception to using the probe issue to diminish or discredit the more than one thousand verifiable projects of his administration, for the eight years he was governor. Or using the probe stuff to blackmail him and the family or conduct needless media trial.
‘Okorocha’s contention is that while the 2nd defendant, the Attorney General of the state, had written petitions to the EFCC against him, and the Commission has been investigating all the issues in the petitions, the same issues are the ones being probed by the seven panels also set up by the same state government. And to Okorocha, and any sincere person, this is improper and questionable.’