“We Have Suspended The Probe Panels”- Imo Attorney-general informs Court
Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has declined the Imo State Government’s application to halt a suit brought before her by a former governor of Imo State, Senator Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
A counsel to the Attorney-general of Imo State, Joseph Mathew had argued that since the cause of action for which the suit was filed happened in Imo State, the matter should be transferred to Owerri, the Imo State capital.
Responding, Okorocha’s counsel argued that since the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which is the first respondent has its office in Abuja and the plaintiff, Senator Owelle Rochas Okorocha is a serving Senator of the Federal Republic and resides in Abuja, there should be no argument as to jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter. Okorocha prayed the Court to ignore the Attorney-general’s request as it was aimed at frustrating the matter.
Joseph Mathew, who represented the Attorney-general of Imo State and 46 other defendants also informed the court that the State Government had already suspended the several probe panels it set up to probe the former governor. He asked for a long adjournment, explaining that he was recently briefed on the matter and would need enough time to study the case.
However, counsels to Senator Okorocha faulted the Attorney-general’s claim and presented newspaper publications reporting that the panel’s had given Okorocha a final notice to appear before them.
The Judge whose countenance betrayed disappointment at the Attorney-general’s suspicious seeming treachery, requested the Attorney-general to enter an undertaking committing to a halt on the panels’ proceedings until he gives his judgement on the motion for injunction and on the issue of jurisdiction. He adjourned the matter to June 14th, when it is expected that the first respondent, EFCC, is expected to make an appearance.
Senator Okorocha is contending that since the Imo State Government had reported him to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over the same allegations for which the panels are empanelled to investigate him, it would negate the spirit of double jeopardy for the several panels to investigate the same issues, while the EFCC is already investigating the same issues.