A federal high court sitting in Owerri, Imo state, has ordered the arrest of three commissioners in the state for contempt of court.
Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha
The affected officials are Josephine Udoji, commissioner for works and transport; Lawrence Eburuoh, commissioner for lands, survey, and urban planning; and Chibuzor Iwuagwu, permanent secretary, ministry of works.
Others are C. E. Egbuka, director of works, ministry of works; and Emeka Duru, director of works Imo state government house, Owerri.
Lewis Alagoa, presiding over the civil suit number FHC/OW/133/2016 filed by Emmanuel Iheanacho, a former interior minister, against Imo government, gave the order on Monday due to the absence of all the defendants in court.
Alagoa ordered the inspector-general of police and his officers to arrest the Imo officials wherever they are sighted across the country.
The court had during its sitting on November 14, 2016, summoned all the defendants to appear before it on December 8, 2016; but none of them showed up.
The counsel to the defendants, J. C. Ibe, told the court that the respondents had filed an appeal against the earlier order of the court.
Ibe said that notices of the appeal and stay of proceeding, notice of preliminary objection and affidavit contesting the contempt order against the respondents had been served on the claimant.
However, counsel to the plaintiff, Ken Njemanze, said that his client was not aware of any appeal by the respondents as claimed by their counsel.
Njemanze said they looked up to the court on the earlier order made against the respondents, adding that their attitude amounted to total disrespect of court.
“What is discouraging to us in this suit my lord, is the intentional act of frustrating progress in the suit by the defendants,” he said.
Alagoa, hearing the arguments of the counsel, made the subsequent order and fixed May 2 for continuation of the matter.
Iheanacho had gone to court over the demolition of part of his property on Orlu Road in Owerri Urban by construction workers engaged for road expansion by the state government.