17th May, 2019
A Federal High Court Abuja on Friday ordered a lawyer, Mr Orji Nwafor-Orizu, to produce a certificate of mental fitness confirming he is fit to appear in court.
Nwafor-Orizu had at previous sittings announced himself as counsel representing Mr Osita Izunaso, the third defendant in the ongoing certificate of return suit filed by Imo Governor, Rochas Okorocha.
Justice Okon Abang made the order following what he described as Nwafor-Orizu displaying conduct not befitting of a senior counsel.
“On account of Nwafor-Orizu’s conduct, not being counsel on record, and displaying such conduct not worthy of a senior counsel, he shall not be allowed to appear as a counsel in this matter, or any other court, unless and until he furnishes the court with a medical report from a government psychiatric hospital certifying him to be mentally fit.
”He shall also sign an undertaking and serve on all counsel that he shall henceforth be of good conduct and until then, S.M Anichebe shall appear as counsel to the third defendant, ” the judge said.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, counsel to all parties announced their appearance following which the judge called on Okorocha’s counsel, Mr Kehinde Ogunwumiji, SAN,to complete his submission which he started on Thursday.
Nwafor-Orizu then came into the court at this point and insisted that he must be heard since he had a process from the Court of Appeal stopping proceedings in the matter.
The judge asked him to sit and allow Okorocha’s counsel to continue his argument but the lawyer insisted, saying; “the court will not proceed until my motion is heard”.
The judge warned that he was frustrating his proceedings and should desist from any further antics.
Following the warning, the judge rose for about five minutes and when he resumed, he asked the security personnel in the court to watch Nwafor-Orizu closely, saying he didn’t feel safe with him in court.
The judge said he felt unsafe because he was not sure of the mental state of the lawyer, adding that no sane lawyer would act in the manner he did since he had not announced himself on record and yet was insisting to be heard.
He asked the security personnel to be ready to remove him from the court should he display such conduct again, and that where he resisted, he should be arrested.
Justice Abang also sent for court’s doctor and informed her to be on standby as he might need to send a lawyer to her to ascertain the lawyer’s mental fitness.
In spite of pleas from Mr N.A Nwawuche (SAN), counsel to the second defendant that the court should pardon Nwafor-Orizu’s behavior, the judge said he would only acknowledge him after he presented a certificate of mental fitness.