The Chairman of Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta state, Mr. Emmanuel Egbabor, is currently enmeshed in a controversial land dispute that may send him to jail for ‘contempt of court’.
The council boss is alleged to have flagrantly disobeyed a court order restraining him and others in a land dispute between Isoko North local government council and Oruamudu as well as Etevie families of Ozoro kingdom.
The parties had through their counsel, Anthony Asuotu Ejumejowo, sometimes in September, 2016 dragged the Isoko North local government council to a Delta state High Court sitting at Ozoro over land boundary dispute.
In a petition made available to BigPen Online on Monday, the petitioners’ counsel stated that the court, pending the hearing and final determination of the matter with suit case No HCZ/38/2016, had ordered that the parties maintained status quo as the matter was referred to arbitration.
According to the petition, while the parties were yet to conclude the arbitration process, the Isoko North local government officials in alleged connivance with the council chairman, Emmanuel Egbabor, in flagrant disobedience of the said court order allegedly sold part of the disputed land to third parties who have commenced construction on the disputed land.
Counsel to the families, Mr. Anthony Asuotu Ejumejowo, who expressed displeasure over the manner the council chairman was flagrantly disobeying court orders, hinted that his Abuja law firm has commenced the processes of serving on the council chairman and other officials form 48 and 49 (Notice of consequences of disobedience to order of court and notice to show cause why an order of committal to prison should not be made), against them.
The petition addressed to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, through the office of the Secretary to the State Government, entitled “Re: Disobedience Of Court Order And Conduct Likely To Breach Public Peace In Ozoro Community By The Chairman, Isoko North LGA, Emmanuel Egbabor”, called on the Governor to as a matter of urgency and importance warn and call to order the council chairman to avoid any break down of law and order in the area following his illegal activities.
“The said Emmanuel Egbabor is using the leadership of the community and the instrumentality of the Delta State Government to intimidate and harass our client. We have initiated a contempt proceedings against the said Emmanuel Egbabor and other officials of the Isoko North Local Government and shall pursue same to a logical conclusion.
“The actions of the said Emmanuel Egbabor is unbecoming of an elected public officials. It become necessary to bring this to your attention because of the security implication that the actions of the said Emmanuel Egbabor poses as we cannot guarantee restraining our client from resorting to self-help. We want this to be on record that the Delta State Government and relevant security agencies were notified.”
The petition which was also addressed to the President General of the Isoko Development Union, (IDU), the Area Commander, Ozoro Area Command, Nigeria Police, Ozoro, and copied the State Commissioner of Police and State Director, Department of State Security, Asaba, however demanded that the Governor use his office to call the said Egbabor to order and to stop the use of the instrumentality of the Delta Government from further intimidation and harassment of his client.
“Please be kindly advised that in the event of your office refusing or neglecting to take the necessary actions, we shall commence legal action against the Delta State Government for the illegal allocation of our client’s land to politicians and their cronies without the consent and knowledge of our client which is the crop of our client’s matter before the High of Justice, Delta State.”
Meanwhile, Ejumejowo And Associates law firm has written to the Chief Judge of Delta state for the immediate transfer of the case from the Ozoro high court on the grounds of safety and security of counsels from his chambers.
“Following the commencement of committal proceedings on the 2nd defendant and some agents of the 1st defendants, our counsels in the matter have been subjected to threat by persons we suspect are connected to the defendants and that every counsel we have approach to act either as a place of service within jurisdiction as the rules of court envisages curiously turned down our request.
“Even those who agree from outside Ozoro and Oleh insist that they cannot be part of the matter unless and until the matter is transferred from Ozoro Judicial Division. Prior to the rejection or refusal of counsels within jurisdiction to give any form of assistance, we had for reasons of intimidation targeted at the claimants written a formal complaint to the Governor of Delta State, the Commissioner of Police and the State Director of Department of State Securities.
“We therefore feel highly concerned about the safety of our counsels in this matter since a handful of learned colleagues have advised us about the safety of counsels in the said Ozoro Judicial Division with all of them citing the unsolved murder of two learned a few years ago. In the light of the above, we therefore humbly apply for the transfer of our matter from the Ozoro Judicial Division and far from Isoko South LGA and Isoko North to any other Judicial Division that your Lordship may deem fit.” the petition stated.