6th June, 2011
The Presiding Judge of the Federal High Court, Makurdi, Justice Abimbola Obaseki has kicked against the inauguration of the Seventh Assembly of the Benue State House of Assembly by Governor Gabriel Suswam last week, accusing him of violating a subsisting case against the House and the State Government at the court.
The judge expressed her views at the resumed hearing of the case filed by Oju Local Council of Benue State against Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, over the restoration of Owuko State Constituency yesterday.
Justice Obaseki said: â€œIt is a pity and condemnable that the Benue State Government which is expected to respect the rule of law, would go ahead to flout court orders.â€
Justice Obaseki reminded counsel to the Benue State Government that in law when an action is filed, the status quo must be maintained.
The Benue State Government and the Benue State House of Assembly are defendants in the suit filed by Oju local council for the restoration of the suspended Owuko State Constituency as ordered by the Court of Appeal.
Earlier, counsel to Oju local council, Barr. Ocha Ulegede informed the court that despite competent court processes filed and served on the Benue State Government, the state governor had gone ahead to hurriedly inaugurate the State Assembly mainly to deny the people of Igede their rightful place in the state.
Barr. Ulegede told the court that agents of the State Government led by the deputy governor, Chief Steven Lawani have been involved in intimidation and harassment of members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Oju local council over the court processes.
Ulegede stated that the actions taken by the Benue State Government was meant to render the decisions of the Federal High Court a nullity.
â€œThis is not good for a responsible government that is starting its second term to commence on this note of disrespecting the court. This action stands to be condemned. If a government decides not to respect the rule of law, where does the hope of the ordinary man lie? If it is a matter to display physical strength, I am sure those in the government of Benue State are not the strongest in the state,â€ he said.
Counsel to the state government, Mr. Agbo who is also the Director of Public Prosecution said it was unfortunate that the action took place, contending that they were handicapped as the bureaucrats at the State Ministry of Justice could not stop the politicians from going ahead with the inauguration.
He however, apologised to the court and declared the willingness of the State Ministry of Justice to abide by any decision reached on the matter.
Meanwhile, an originating summon filed by counsel to Oju local counsel has been heard and ruling reserved for 16 June 2011 by the court.
By Ubong George/Makurdi