From Tony John, Port Harcourt
A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to stop forthwith further actions against the former Governor of Imo State, Sen. Rochas Okorocha.
Justice Stephen Pam gave the order yesterday following an application brought before the court by counsel to the applicant (Okorocha), Mr. Ola Olanipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
The order came following the submissions by Olanipekun that the anti-graft agency was going against the judgment of the same court in Suit Number: FHC/ABJ/CS/45/2019, wherein the court ordered the commission to release the International Passport and travelling documents of the defendant among other decisions of the court.
Following the refusal of the Commission to adhere to the judgment of the court, Okorocha, in Suit Number: FHC/PH/FHR/165/2021, approached the same court for the protection of his human rights that were under threat.
At the resumption of proceedings yesterday, Olanipekun reminded the court that, on December 6, 2021, a judgment was delivered in favour of Okorocha, but instead of the applicant, EFCC, to obey the judgment or appeal, it went ahead to contravene it.
Olanipekun further informed the court that, despite its decision, EFCC has refused to release the International Passport and travel documents of his client, Okorocha.
He said: “Today, it appears like no judgment was entered here.” The counsel regretted that EFCC went and took another disobedience to make another charge from the same issues ruled on, saying that it was contempt of court.
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But counsel for EFCC, N.A. Dodo, had told the court that it only got the application from the applicant on Monday, pleading for time to respond to the processes.
He denied that the EFCC was going contrary to the judgment of the court, adding that the commission had called on Okorocha to come and pick his passport and travelling documents, but he (Okorocha) had not responded.
He said: “My Lord, we are complying with the judgment. We have called him (Okorocha) to come and pick his passport, but he refused.”
However, the trial judge, Pam, said he was not happy with the attitude of EFCC on the matter, noting that he would not tolerate contempt.
Pam said: “I take exception to disobedience. Your organisation (EFCC) should not do anything to the applicant until this matter is determined.
“What is the order, obey it. If you are not okay with the judgment, go and appeal it. Don’t allow the drama that took place in my court in the matter between Peter Odili and Nigeria Immigration to take place here.”
Pam, however, adjourned the case till February 14, this year, for hearing, warning that all orders made by the court must be obeyed by the parties.