From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
A group of women from Imo State besieged the High Court in Owerri, demanding the appearance of the former governor of the state, Ikedi Ohakim, to answer alleged fraud charges and other matters level against him by Lagos-based businesswoman Chiyenre Amuchinwa.
The women who were clad in black sang anti-Ohakim songs as they marched on the roads around the court carrying placards with such inscriptions as: “Ohakim is not above the law”, “Injustice to one woman is injustice to all”, “Ohakim, stop running away and face the court”, among others.
The leader of the protesting women, Mrs Blessing Opara, speaking to newsmen, said that the protesters were in court to show solidarity with their fellow woman who they claimed was unjustly treated by the former governor.
The women appealed to the judge not to be biased in her judgement.
‘Ohakim is not above the law, he should show up in court and allow the law to take its course, we are not happy he dragged one of our own to court and has refused to show up himself, he should come out boldly like a man and face the charges,’ Opara said.
Meanwhile, in the court, the counsel to ex-Governor Ohakim, Alloy Ejimakor, and counsel to the 3rd respondent Ifeanyi Nweze, who stood in for Chinyere Amuchinwa, argued back and forth on the application of the infringement of fundamental rights suit filed by the former governor.
While Nweze objected to a letter and investigative report on NAPTIP which Ohakim’s counsel brought to the court for adoption and presumed to have been served on Amuchinwa, Ejimakor instead urged the court to discontinue the matter.
‘It is not served on the respondent and based on section 36 subsection 1 of the Constitution.
‘For him to make any presentation according to section 36, I should have been served and cannot respond to the letter. For this reason, I ask the court for a stand down for me to prepare myself.’
Quoting the section further, he argued that ‘any document whatever that either emanating from court or anywhere I am entitled to have a copy of such document at all times in accordance to the rule of law.’
He demanded a N5 million compensation on Ohakim for what he described as unwarranted expenses his client was made to spend.
Replying to his objection, Ohakim’s counsel said that the subpoena was issued to a party other than the applicant, therefore, it is not the responsibility of the applicant to see that all parties to the suit are served with the investigative report.
‘We have similarly served NAPTIP, therefore, the counsel should have presumed to be in constant contact with the respondent in this case, whether the respondent was served or not should arise,’ Ejimakor stated.
Ejimakor further urged the court to file the investigation to settle the veracity of the counsel’s claim that the court was not served, adding that the bailiff should be summoned to explain why the third respondent was not served.
The presiding judge, IG Chukwunyere, who reserved a ruling on the matter, has adjourned to April 19, while asking that the respondent should be properly served.