An Abuja-based constitutional lawyer, Frank Tietie, on Sunday called on Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State to stop his planned demolition of Senator Rochas Okorocha’s family property despite court order against his action.
Tietie, in a statement made available through his law firm, Forthright Chambers, said such action could undermine the rule of law through which the governor rode into power.
It would be recalled that the state government and Okorocha, who represents Imo West Senatorial District, has been in a legal battle over a judicial commission of inquiry set up to probe the lawmaker’s eight-year administration as governor of Imo State.
The lawyer said: “The governor should lead respect for the rule of law by obeying the standing order of the Imo State High Court and to stop the frustration of the subject matter before the Federal High Court, Owerri.
“On Friday, the 5th of March, 2021, officials of the Imo State Government marked for demolition, property belonging to the Rochas Okorocha Family.
“It is pertinent to note that all of the property marked for demolition are presently subject to pending litigations.
“Particularly, there is an order of court issued by Hon. Justice T.N. Nzeukwu of the Imo State High Court, in the case of an application for fundamental rights enforcement.
“It was filed by the House of Freeda Ltd, Mrs Uloma Rochas Nwosu & 2 Ors. Vs. the Governor of Imo State, Attorney General & Commissioner of Justice, Imo State & 4 Ors in the suit no: HOW/947/2019).”
According to him, the court issued a perpetual injunction against Uzodinma and Imo State Government from interfering with the property listed in the application.
Tietie said the property included House of Freeda at Km 1, Port Harcourt Road, Owerri, Imo State; and East High College at Area ‘R’, opposite Life Oak Event Centre, New Owerri, Imo State.
Others, he said, were the East High Academy at Area ‘P’ opposite ISOPADEC, New Owerri; West Brook Hotel Limited at New Owerri; and El Freeda Foundation at Area ‘P’ opposite ISOPADEC, New Owerri.
He added: “Furthermore, the Eastern Palm University (Imo-European University) is the subject matter of a pending suit at the Federal High Court, Owerri between the Incorporated Trustees of Rochas Foundation, Eastern Palm University, Ogboko as plaintiffs and the Governor of Imo State and 5 Ors as defendants, in suit no: FHC/OW/16/2021 filed on the 5th of February, 2021.”
According to Tietie, the suit seeks a restraining order of injunction against Uzodinma and the Imo State Government with their agents from forcibly taking over possession and ownership of the university.
He said the right of Okorocha and his family to own moveable and immovable property, anywhere in Nigeria, including Imo State, should be guaranteed by the constitution.
He said: “Such right can neither be extinguished by the whims and caprices of any of government official nor by a fact-finding committee or judicial commission of inquiry.
“Only a court of competent jurisdiction can make a determination as to any detraction of the fundamental right of any Nigerian citizen to own moveable and immovable property in any part of Nigeria.
“Governor Hope Uzodinma, being a huge beneficiary of the rule of law which has made him the present governor of Imo State, must as a matter of avowed commitment to upholding the constitution, immediately cease all actions that would undermine the rule of law as the guarantor of peace and progress in any society.”
The lawyer called on President Muhammadu Buhari; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu; and Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to intervene towards ensuring that the rule of law prevailed.
Tietie wrote: “The president and the relevant officials of the Nigerian state and Federal Government must act immediately to prevent the abuse of state powers by Governor Hope Uzodinma who is presently consumed and driven by hate, malice and morbid vindictiveness against the person of Senator Rochas Okorocha.”