Barristers & Solicitors
Contempt: Judge’s absence stalls Anambra Attorney-General, others’ trial

The absence of the Judge of a State High Court in Ogbaru, Anambra State, on Thursday, stalled the trial of the state’s Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Obinna Ngonadi, and the Attorney-General, Prof. Sylvia Ifemejeol, over alleged disobedience of the state’s High Court order.

Others involved in the trial were Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu, President-General, Anambra State Amalgamated Traders Association, the Incorporated Trustees and executive members of Electronic Dealers Association Onitsha.

The court staff had informed litigants and their counsel that the judge, Justice Alexious Okuma, was not going to sit.

Although no reason was given for the judge’s absence, the court clerk subsequently fixed November 8, for hearing.

A motion ex parte filed by Christgonus Obi on July 5 prayed the court not to allow the respondents — Attorney-General of the state, Commissioner for Commerce and Industry and others — to constitute caretakers committee in EDAO but they went ahead to constitute the committee.

The court, however, ordered parties to maintain the status quo pending the determination of the suit.

The state High Court presided over by Justice Okuma issued form 48 to the defendants.

The form 48 reads, “Take notice that unless you obey the direction contained in this order you will be guilty of contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prison.”

But on July 29, the Commissioner for Commerce and industry inaugurated an 11-man caretaker committee for the market.

The counsel for the applicant, Chief Ugo Ugwunadi, on August 11, applied for their committal to prison for disobeying court order, after the court had issued form 48.