Court dismisses suit seeking Ohanaeze Ndigbo leaders’ arrest, prosecution

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The Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday rejected a request to order the arrest, investigation and prosecution of the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, George Obiozor, and other leaders of the group.

The applicant, the Ohanaeze Indigbo General Assembly (OIGA), led by Onuorah Onyeachonam, had accused Mr Obiozor and members of his group of running an illegal organisation in breach of the law.

The suit is a fallout of the supremacy battle between the two Igbo socio-cultural groups.

But ruling, Inyang Ekwo dismissed the OIGA’s suit on the grounds that it failed to show how Mr Obiozor and others committed any offence known to the law to warrant an order for their arrest and prosecution.

“The prayer here is for leave to compel the first and second respondents (Inspector-General of Police and the Attorney General of the Federation) to arrest, investigate and commence criminal proceedings against Prof. George 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,” the judge said while summarising the claims of the applicant.

The applicant had claimed that while it was duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the rival Ohanaeze Ndigbo with a similar name, led by Mr Obiozor and others, was not.

But dismissing the OIGA’s claim, Mr Ekwo held that the applicant failed to establish a prima facie case to warrant the grant the orders sought.

He noted that the applicant had the duty to demonstrate “with concrete evidence that those sought to be arrested, investigated and prosecuted have committed criminal offence(s) known to law.”

He added, “This is the because the power 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 are to not intended to be used in vacuo or without a cause.

ALSO READ: UPDATED: Obiozor emerges new Ohaneze Ndigbo President

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

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The suit

Mr Obiozor and other leaders of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo emerged as leaders of the group in a recently held election.

But the OIGA in its suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/56/2021 claimed that the rival group was acting in contempt of court by allegedly running an illegal organisation.

It sued the IGP and the AGF in the ex parte application seeking “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 Mr Obiozor and others.

It claimed that resorted to filing the applicaton because of the failure of the respondents to act on its letters to them on January 15, 2021 to arrest and prosecute Mr Obiozor and others.

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