An Imo State High Court presided over by Hon. Justice Sabinus I. Opara, has given the state government what it called “the last chance to appear before the court”, over the suit, HOW/380/2016, filed by Owerri indigenes on the planned destruction and relocation of Ekeukwu Owerri market.
All the defendants, including the Governor, the Attorney General, AG, the Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Urban Planning, failed to appear or send anybody to represent them, during the proceedings.
Justice Opara said: “The court is adjourning this matter to Friday, September 19, 2016. I am only being careful in the exercise of the court’s judicial power and will only grant for the last time, the adjournment sought by the defendant, through a letter written to the court”. The court however, refused to adjourn the matter, pending his return, as requested by the state Attorney General. It was the considered opinion of Justice Opara that ” the Attorney General can also send his representative, if he cannot come in person “.
Speaking to Vanguard after the court session, counsel to Owerri indigenes, Prince Ken C. O. Njemanze, SAN, described the non-appearance of the defendants in court as “deliberate nonchalance, a glaring levity and contemptuous of judicial proceedings”. On what prompted him to ask the court to grant order of interim injunction, Njemanze said: “It will save Owerri people from imminent pain and danger, until the day the defendants prepare themselves to appear in court”. Answering another question, the learned SAN insisted that the interim injunction would “stop the state government from destroying, relocating or tampering with Ekeukwu Owerri market”. “We asked for the order of interim injunction in line with our prayers, pending the eventual determination of the suit and also to stop the state government from destroying the market, which may cause bloodshed in the land”, Njemanze said.
It would be recalled that Justice Opara had at the last date the matter came up expressed dissatisfaction over the failure of the Defendants to appear in court despite evidence of service being in the court’s file. The Honourable Judge while adjourning the matter to September 8 ordered that the Attorney General of Imo State should not only be served with the order of court, but must also appear in person.