Human rights lawyer and activist, Femi Falana, on Tuesday commended the refusal of the Chief Judge of Imo State to swear in the deputy governor-designate, Calistus Ekenze, on account of a court order forbidding him to do so.
Mr Ekenze was appointed deputy governor following the purported impeachment of Ezeakonobi Madumere from office by the Imo State House of Assembly.
The impeachment came despite a court injunction granted by the Imo State High Court presided over by Ben Iheka, restraining the impeachment panel constituted by the Chief Judge of Imo State, Padcal Nnadi from entertaining the allegations against Mr Madumere.
The house was therefore in contempt of the court in going ahead to pass a resolution impeaching Mr Madumere who has been having a running battle with his principal.
The state governor, Rochas Okorocha, had immediately named Mr Ekenza as a replacement for Mr Madumere and directed that he be sworn in.
However, the Chief Judge turned down the directive to swear in Mr Ekenze as deputy governor of the state as a result of the restraining order of the court forbidding him from swearing in the deputy governor-designate.
In solidarity with the judge, all the other judges in the High Court of Imo State reportedly resolved not to lend judicial weight to the “subversion of the rule of law by the legislative and executive organs of the Imo State Government”.
Mr Okorocha on Tuesday indicated his willingness to abide by the court ruling.
Meanwhile, Mr Falana, in a statement on Tuesday, commended the Imo State judiciary for upholding the tenets of the rule of law.
He also called on the Nigerian Bar Association and all democratic forces in the country to ensure that the order of the chief judge was fully complied with.
“Let the legislators and Governor Okorocha purge themselves of contempt of court by continuing to recognise Prince Madumere as the Deputy Governor of Imo State pending the determination of the pending suit before the State High Court on the validity of the impeachment proceedings adopted by the House of Assembly of Imo State,” said Mr Falana.
“The members of the Benue State House of Assembly are advised to stop exposing the country to ridicule by familiarising themselves with the judgments of the courts with respect to illegal impeachment of the former governors and deputy governors of Oyo, Plateau, Anambra, Taraba, Enugu etc.”