Setback As High Court Stops Abia Probe Panel

Setback As High Court Stops Abia Probe Panel

Abia probe panel inaugurated by the Abia state Governor, Dr. Alex Chioma Otti have suffered a setback as an Abuja High Court presided by Justice Okpe has restrained the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Recovery of Government Properties and Funds set up, from harassing former Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and others who served during his administration.

The order, which was given as interim injunction last Friday, noted that the panel and other respondents were restrained “jointly and severally, whether by themselves or acting through any committee, department, agency, office(s), men, operatives, agents or any person or group of persons, howsoever named or described, from inviting, summoning, interrogating, harassing, intimidating, arresting, detaining, seizing any property belonging to the applicants or otherwise dealing adversely in any manner with the applicants, their children, any member of their families or any other person connected to the applicants, insofar as it relates to the applicants’ tenure as public officers in Abia State.”

According to Daily Sun, the order, which was granted sequel to originating motion by Sir Gabriel Onyendilefu, Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, Erondu Uchenna Erondu (Jnr) and Rt. Hon. Prince C.O. Enweremadu canvassed by C.C. Enuka, Esq, in respect of FCT/HC/CV/6989 /2023, also directed that the respondents be served through substituted means, to wit: by serving same on any officer or other responsible person at the address of the Respondent at Abia State Liaison Office, Abia House, Plot 979, First Avenue, Off Ahmadu Bello Way, Central Business District, Abuja.

Governor Alex Otti had inaugurated a five-man judicial panel of inquiry, led by retired Justice Ikwuoma Duruoha-Igwe to “ensure the recovery of government funds and property that had been taken away from May 29, 2015 to May 29, 2023”. But many critics within and outside the state saw the panel as a witch-hunt attempt against Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, who defeated him (Otti) twice in 2015 and 2019 gubernatorial contests.

An Umuahia based public affairs analyst, Chief Uche Aguoru, who called for the extension of the terms of reference of the panel to include other administrations in the state, said it was predictable that governor Otti will attempt to witch-hunt his predecessor in office, given the bad blood existing between them.

“As painful as the defeat of 2015 is, the scars of the defeat should have been healed by the victory of 2023. I hope Governor Alex Otti realises this and expands the ToR of the probe panel to start from 1999, because Abia was not created in 2015,” he told journalists in Umuahia recently.

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