A Port Harcourt based legal practitioner and solicitor, Chief Festus Ogwuche, has written to the Kogi state government demanding the immediate and unconditional restoration of Chief James Abalaka as the substantive Ejeh Ofu and Chairman, Ofu local government tradition council, pending the determination of his application for stay of execution.
The demand was contained in separate letters sent to the Kogi state Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the state’s Attorney and Commissioner for Justice, as well as the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters.
Ogwuche, the principal partner in Crownfield Solicitors, demanded that the letter of appointment issued to Alhaji Akwu Obaje as Ejeh Ofu be withdrawn immediately.
The legal practitioner hinged his demand on the matter pending before the Court of Appeal which bothers on a stay of execution of the earlier judgement of a lower court on the issue.
Ogwuche, in his letter to the Kogi State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, recalled how his client, Chief James Abalaka, proceeded to the Court of Appeal with similar application after same application was discountenanced by a High Court in the state on the 27th day of July, this year. He confirmed that the application for a stay of execution was duly served on the Attorney General, which was confirmed by the record of service in the court.
According to the letter from Ogwuche to the AG, “the learned trial court however discountenanced the said application upon which we proceeded to court of Appeal with similar application in Number CA/ABJ/PRE/ROA/CV/588″/2020, which was filed on the 27th day of July 2020 for stay and duty served on you same day and this is confirmed by the record of service in the court.
“Your office is fully aware of the pendency of these processes in the Court of Appeal and which is yet to be determined.
“It is therefore with grave consternation that a letter of appointment of the Eje Ofu stool has been issued to the 1st respondent, Alhaji Akwu Obaje, purportedly pursuance to the judgement of the court.
“Unfortunately, such action is in naked defiance of the pending application of stay of execution dictates of the rule of law, the due process of the law and the fundamental principles of justice.”
Ogwuche noted with regrets that the action of the Attorney General of Kogi State, in issuing Alhaji Obaje with the said letter of appointment as Eje Ofu, has essentially altered the known judicial tide regarding the appeal and attempts to foist the Court of Appeal with a fiat accompli with regards to the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction and the accompanying judicial powers thereto on a matter before it, adding that “this can not be, as such procedure has been depreciated long time ago.”
He expressly pointed out that it is incumbent upon the government of Kogi state to, “through the instrumentality of your office, act responsibly on judicial matters, in line with the provisions of the constitution, our democratic tradition and global best practices on the rule of law as defined under its due process in recognition and obedience to judicial sanctity.”
The legal practitioner, in his letter to the Commissioner of Justice, therefore said, “It is by virtue of the foregoing, coupled with our duty to uphold the rule of law, sanctity of the court and the nobility of our chequered profession that we hereby demand that the letter of appointment issued to Alhaji Akwu Obaje as Eje Ofu and Chairman Ofu Local Government Traditional Council be immediately withdrawn as a matter of legal and judicial imperative.
“We also demand that the status quo, as at the date of the commencement of the action at the High court of Kogi State sitting at Anyigba, be immediately and unconditionally restored and put Chief James Abalaka in his substantive stead as the Eje Ofu and Chairman Ofu Local Government Tradition council, pending the determination of his application for stay of execution and/or appeal at the court of Appeal”.
Barr. Ogwuche specially appealed to the Governor of the State as well as the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters to avoid being deceived and be advised accordingly.