Court rejects Okorocha’s prayer to stop probe panels

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday turned down a request by a former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, to issue an order of interim injunction to halt the investigation of his eight-year administration by the various probe panels set up by the state government.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed ruled that rather than issue a restraining injunction, he would take the undertaking by government’s lawyer, Mr Joseph Mola, to advise the probe panels to suspend sitting pending when the court will decide whether or not it has jurisdiction to hear Okorocha’s suit.

Okorocha, who currently represents Imo West in the Senate, had on May 18, 2020 filed his suit seeking an order stopping the respondents in the suit from probing “the purported financial infractions” said to have been committed during his tenure as Imo State governor.

Joined as defendants in the suit are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Imo State Attorney General and members of five different panels constituted by the state government to investigate various activities of the Okorocha-led administration.

Okorocha is praying the court to, among others, “direct the 1st defendant (EFCC) and the 3rd to the 10th defendants (the Imo State Attorney General and the Justice Iheaka-led probe panel on contract awards) to stay all further actions and proceedings until the 2nd defendant (the state AG) decides who should carry out the investigation.”

He wants the court to hold that he could not be probed by both the EFCC and the probe panels simultaneously.

At the Wednesday’s proceedings, Oba Maduabuchi (SAN), represented Okorocha, while Joseph Mola appeared for the Imo State AG and the rest of the 3rd to the 48th respondents.

The EFCC was not represented by any lawyer.

Maduabuchi informed Justice Mohammed of his client’s pending motion seeking an injunction to stop the probe panels’ investigations.

But Mola, in response, urged the court to enforce the directive of the Chief Judge of the court that cases should be transferred to where the disputes leading to the suits arise.

He applied that the particular case be transferred to the Owerri Division of the Federal High Court in Imo State which he said was where the cause of action arose.

Maduabuchi objected to the submission, but the judge directed that Mola should file a formal application to which the plaintiff and the respondents could respond.

The judge then adjourned till July 14 for further proceedings.