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Court dismisses suit seeking arrest, trial of Ohanaeze Ndigbo leaders

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Federal High Court, Abuja

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, dismissed a suit seeking the arrest, probe and prosecution of the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Professor George Obiozor, and other leaders of the group over alleged contempt.

The Judge, in a ruling, held that the applicant, The Registered Trustees of Ohanaeze Ndigbo General Assembly, led by Mr. Onuorah Basil Onyeachonam, failed to show that Obiozor and others committed any offence known to law and which should warrant their arrest, investigation and prosecution.

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The Judge gave the ruling after evaluating the processes filed by the applicant.

According to him, the process failed to establish a prima facie case to warrant the granting of the reliefs sought.

The Assembly had, in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/56/2021, claimed that Obiozor and other leaders of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, who emerged from the recent election, were in contempt by allegedly running an illegal organisation.

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The applicant in the suit, which had the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as respondents, claimed that while it was duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the group with a similar name, led by Obiozor and others, was unregistered.

It then filed an ex-parte application for leave to apply for the issuance of an order of mandamus, compelling the IGP and the AGF “to arrest, investigate and commence criminal proceedings” against Obiozor and others for allegedly running an illegal and/or unregistered association known as Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

The applicant said it resorted to court action because of the failure of the respondents to act on its letters to them, dated January 15, this year, for the arrest and prosecution of Obiozor and others.

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In the ruling, however, Justice Ekwo said: “The prayer here is for leave to compel the first and second respondents (IGP and AGF) to arrest, investigate and commence criminal proceedings against Obiozor, Obi Nwali, Okey Egbuche, Beatrice Eze, Bartholomew Okeke and Ogbonna for running an illegal and/or unregistered association known, as Ohanaeze Ndigbo, similar to that of the Applicant, which has been registered under Part C of the CAMA by the CAC.

“In my opinion, where such prayer is sought, it must be demonstrated with concrete evidence that those sought to be arrested, investigated and prosecuted have committed a criminal offence(s) known to law.

“This is because the power is given to the Attorney General of the Federation in Section 174 (1) of the 1999 Constitution and the power given to the Inspector General of the Police in Section 4 of the Police Act is to not intended to be used in vacuo or without a cause.

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“The onus is on the applicant to show that the statute underlying their allegation creates a criminal offence, which the first and second respondents are obligated to enforce by the power of arrest, investigation and prosecution.

“In the end, I am unable to see any justifiable cause in this application. I think this application, without more, is frivolous and I am unable to lend the judicial powers of this court to encourage such litigations.

“I hereby make an order dismissing this case for lacking in merit. This is the order of the court.”

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