Absence of judge stalls hearing of motion challenging jurisdiction in Okorocha’s suit



By Taiye Agbaje

The absence of Justice Ahmed Mohammed of a Federal High Court, Abuja on Tuesday, stalled the hearing of a motion challenging court’s jurisdiction in the suit filed by former Imo Governor, Rochas Okorocha, against the state government and others.

The matter, which was for mention on the cause list, could not proceed because of the judge’s absence.The case was, however, fixed for June 7 for mention.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the defence in the suit, including Eze Duri-Ihuoma, SAN, who is 44th defendant, had challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter.Duri-Ihuoma had, on Sept. 22, 2021, said that the suit filed by Okorocha did not disclose any reasonable cause of action, hence, the court lacked jurisdiction to hear it.According to him, the subject matter jurisdiction is not there in the suit and that the application is alien to the law.“

The applicant (Okorocha) is claiming that because the EFCC is investigating him, the state government should fold its hands and not probe him.“That is alien. Some of us had also argued that the former governor was simply saying, ‘extend my immunity.’“But his immunity ended when he left office and he wants that immunity extended,” he told newsmen.The lawyer said he was hopeful that the suit would be dismissed because it lacked merit.NAN reports that Okorocha, representing Imo West at the National Assembly, in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/558/2020 filed on May 28, 2020, had urged the court to restrain the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and others from probing him.While the EFCC is the 1st respondent, the 2nd to 48th respondents are the Attorney General (AG) of Imo and members of the seven panels set up to probe previous administrations in the state.

NAN also reports that Okorocha had, on June 29, 2021, urged the court to make an order setting aside the seizures and sealing of some of his property by the state government.Okorocha also asked the court to restrain the defendants from investigating him or implementing the recommendations of the seven panels set up to probe him while he served as the state governor between June 2006 and May 2019 pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.The judge, on Aug. 11, 2021, declined Okorocha’s application seeking to stop the Imo State Government from taking further steps concerning his property on the grounds that the jurisdiction of the court had been challenged.In a ruling, the judge held that making an order was tantamount to assuming jurisdiction in the suit.(NAN)