Court halts impeachment of Imo deputy governor

Sir Jude Agbaso

The Deputy Governor of Imo State, Sir Jude Agbaso, got a relief on Monday from the impeachment moves against him by the Imo State House of Assembly as a High Court sitting in Owerri, the Imo State capital, ordered a return to status quo pending the determination of the substantive suit before it.
The court, presided over by Justice Florence Duruoha-Igwe, ruled on Monday that the Chief Judge of the state should maintain the status quo.
Duruoha-Igwe said in the ruling: “As a high legal officer, the Chief Judge knows when a matter is subjudice and in the circumstance, status quo should remain pending the determination of the substantive suit.”
Agbaso’s counsel, Patrick Ikwueto, SAN, had sought the order of the court to stop the Imo State House of Assembly from proceeding with the impeachment process against Agbaso.
Ikwueto said: “We are merely asking the court to determine the applicant’s right of fair hearing.
“We are merely asking the court to allow the applicant exercise his fundamental human rights.”
Counsel to the respondents, Niyi Akintola, told the court it had no jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
Akintola said since the probe of Agabso, for allegedly receiving a N458 million bribe from a road contractor in the state, J-Pros Limited, had moved from the House of Assembly to the Chief Judge, who had constituted a panel to investigate the deputy governor, it was no longer within the jurisdiction of the court.
But the judge disagreed, ordering for the maintenance of status quo, pending the determination of the substantive suit.