Some residents of Imo State have berated the governor, Hope Uzodinma over continued closure of the Owerri division of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN).
The President of the court, Justice Benedict Kanyip had on June 4 ordered the closure the court in Owerri following an attack and abduction of four staff of NICN allegedly by officials of the Imo State Government.
The officials were abducted while they were effecting a judgment of the court.
“I have been directed by the Hon. president of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Hon Justice B B Kanyip, PhD, to inform you that the Owerri Judicial Division of the Court has been closed down till further notice,” a memo signed by the chief registrar of the court, Olurotimi Williams Daudu, had read.
“Consequently, all the staff of the judicial division are hereby directed to stay away from work until further notice.”
The four officials manhandled were Mr Chima Emeka Ndukwe, Akoma Jeremiah, Ikedi Amadi and Nze Moses.
They were whisked away to the Anti-kidnapping Unit of the Imo State Police Command while effecting the judgment of the court involving Zenith Bank in Owerri.
A former deputy governor of the state, Prince Eze Madumere had secured an absolute garnishee Order from the National Industrial Court in Owerri against the bank in a suit no: NICN/OW/16M/2022, between Prince Eze Madumere Vs Governor of Imo State, Zenith Bank Plc, the Attorney General of Imo state and the Imo state government.
“The order was for N1.9bn entitlements claim for Madumere and the policemen from Zone 9 have come to implement the court order. The court ordered that the bank should pay him because the state banks with us. The judge in his judgement barred the defendants from appealing and ordered 24 hours for the implementation of the judgment,” a bank official had said.
As a result of that judgment, the three branches of Zenith Bank on bank road, Douglas and Wetheral were sealed from Thursday, June 2nd to Friday, 3rd.
Apparently, irked by the inability of bank customers to access transactions, officials of the Imo state government led by the Special Adviser to the Governor Uzodinma on Special Duties, Nze Chinasa Nwaneri accompanied by a team of police operatives attacked and abducted the four officials.
However, seven weeks after the incident, the court remains under lock as the state government and concerned authorities appear to be far from an amicable solution.
Some residents of the state have lambasted the governor, describing him as an abuser of the rule of law and due process.
“The governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma who became governor through the Supreme Court should have immense respect for the judiciary and rule of law,” one of them told SaharaReporters.
“After the governor unleashed thugs to arrest the court officials on their lawful duty and label them criminals, the presiding Judge, Rt Hon Galadimma was also threatened which led to the closure of the court till date.
“When the court is shut down, democracy and the fate of dismissed workers will hang in the balance. I urge the governor to also reciprocate the gesture granted to him by the judiciary by respecting the sanctity of the institution and follow due process in appealing judgments that was not unfavourable to his administration.
“The leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress in Imo State should not be the eye of the government, they are meant to fight for the welfare of the workers and condemn executive recklessness. I urge the President of the National Industrial Court to please consider the plight of litigants in seeking justice and rescind his decision to unseal the court in owerri. Justice delayed is Justice denied.”