Law News
Judge threatens to jail Ohanaeze leaders

An Enugu State High Court judge, Justice Romanus Odugu, has threatened to jail some leaders of the Igbo pan cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, for contempt if they disobey an order restraining them from conducting an election to elect a new executive committee for the organisation.

The threat was contained in a Notice of Consequence of Disobedience of Court Order (Form 48) issued by the court on the Ohanaeze Ndigbo chieftains, including an elder statesman, Chief Mbazuluike Amechi, Senator Chris Ngige, Chief Enechi Onyia, SAN, Dr Eze Agbogu, Prince Richard Ozobu, Prince Chukwuemeka Onyesoh, Chief Raph Obioha and Chief Chekwas Okorie.

Others are Prof. Ukwu I. Ukwu, Senator Offia Nwali, Dr. Jumbo Offor, Dr. Zed Chukwujama, Prof. Elochuchukwu Amucheazi,   Elder Oyibo Chukwu and Lady Maria Okwor.

The court warned that unless they obey the directives contained in the order, they would be guilty of contempt of court and liable to be committed to prison.

The court had earlier issued an interim injunction, restraining Amechi and four others from holding any election in December 2014, or before January 7, 2015, to elect a new executive for the organisation.

Justice Odugu gave the order in suit no. E/513/2014, which was brought before him by the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Gary Igariwey, and Secretary General, Dr Joe Nwaorgu, on behalf of themselves and the National Executive of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide.

Joined as 1st to 5th defendants respectively in the suit are Chief Mbazulike Amechi, Enechi Onyia, SAN (purported chairman and member of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Elders Council), Prince Eze Agbogu, Prince Richard Ozobu and Chukwuemeka Onyenso (purported chairman and member of the purported Ohanaeze Ndigbo 2014 Election Committee).

The court order read, “The 1st and 5th defendants are hereby restrained from conducting any election for Ohanaeze Ndigbo and/or creating any 3rd party in the National Executive of Ohanaeze Ndigbo

“The defendants, either by themselves, agents or privies, are hereby restrained from making any further public statements, media publications or announcements on behalf of the purported National Executive Committee as constituted by the 1st defendant pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.

“The defendants are hereby restrained as presently constituted from further parading themselves either as Chairman of Elders Council or members of the National Executive Committee of Ohanaeze Ndigbo respectively, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.”

The court also ordered that the plaintiffs/applicants should enter an undertaking to pay damages in the sum of N500, 000 if it turns out that the order ought not to have been made by the court.

It would be recalled that the organisation had been embroiled in a crisis over the tenure of its executive, with some members insisting that the tenure was two years while others, including the members of the current executive committee, said that the duration of their stay in office had been reviewed upwards to four years.

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