Law News
How commissioner’s memo landed LG boss in prison

Fresh facts emerged weekend that the real reason an Anambra High Court sitting at Ekwulobia handed the chairman of Ihiala local government area, Chogozie Awugosi, a three- month jail sentence with hard labour last week was due to a letter written by the state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mrs. Azuka Enemuo.

Enemuo wrote the letter on which strength the sacked local government chairman returned to his seat after his election was nullified by the election tribunal and the high court which served as the appeal tribunal.

Enemuo’s letter said: “I make reference to the letter No.AG/AN/S.243/T.1of 27th June, 2014 from the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and to state as follows:

“That the position of the law should be upheld. The status quo should be maintained while appeal lasts; and that “You should continue to remain in office, pending the determination of the appeal, in order to avoid a vacuum in the office.”

Her letter was based on the application by Awugosi at the Court of Appeal praying for a stay of execution of the ruling of the High Court and the election tribunal.

But Justice Chudi Obiora, who presided at the High Court, Ekwulobia, said Awugosi’s application could stretch the power to cover any matter beyond the High Court.

Justice Obiora, after reviewing the case and the defence of the counsel to Awugosi, said he had no doubt that the conduct of Awugosi was contemptuous of the orders of the court.

In his judgement, Justice Obiora said: “I find the appellant/respondent, Chigozie Awugosi, guilty of contempt. I accordingly sentence him to three months imprisonment with hard labour. There shall be no option of fine.

“Accordinly, I hereby further order the convict, Chigozie Awugosi to refund all the monies collected and/or received by him by way of salaries and allowances from the 19th June, 2014, till date to the coffers of the Anambra State government.”

According to the judge, it is clear that Awugosi has been in office since after the orders of the court, which was made on June 19, 2014, implying that he has been helping himself to public treasury illegally.

The Judge said the court has inherent powers under section 6(6)(b) of the 1999 constitution to make consequential orders as the justice of the case demanded.

He directed the Inspector General of Police, Anambra State Commissioner of Police and all police officers and men to apprehend and arrest Awugosi for him to serve the sentence imposed on him since he was in court when the application was being heard, but escaped.

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