Chief Victor Umeh
Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
For the third time, the hearing of the appeal filed by the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh, challenging the order of an Enugu High Court, restraining him from parading himself as chairman was stalled yesterday.
The matter which came up during the court sitting yesterday could not go on as scheduled by the Enugu division of the Court of Appeal, following a letter addressed to the court by Chudi Obieze, the counsel to the respondent, praying for an adjournment on grounds of ill-health.
The said letter from Obieze was supported with a medical certificate signed by the Chief Medical Director of an Anambra State-owned general hospital, confirming him sick and stating that he would be off for five days, starting from Wednesday, November 28, 2012.
However, counsel to Umeh, Pat Ikwueto (SAN), had while addressing the court on the letter, noted that if the respondent’s lawyer cannot come, he has other lawyers in his chambers and there was no reason why he should not send them to represent him.
He expressed dismay that the delay witnessed in the matter have been detrimental to APGA as a political party and therefore prayed the court to allow him to move his application or rescind all the orders made by the lower court in manifest disregard to rules of the court.
But, in his ruling, the presiding judge, Justice Inyang Okoro, held that the medical certificate tendered by the defendant’s counsel had shown that he is sick and the court cannot disregard that.
“Since the medical certificate stated that he would be off for five days, I suggest that the court should look for a short date,” he noted.
Consequently, the court noted that the motion filed on September 15 and all other motions be adjourned to January 15 and that fresh hearing notices should be issued to the respondent.
On his part, Umeh told reporters that it was clear his opponents were frustrating the hearing of the Court of Appeal, stressing that up till now, the trial judge at the lower court, Justice Innocent Umezuruike, has refused to release his rulings and records of proceedings in court on September 17 and October 8.
“Up till this moment, because we were at his court yesterday and they said he still has not brought out the records. So, the record is under lock by the trial judge and here at the Court of Appeal, all the antics of the respondent are clear, to frustrate the court from hearing the appeal.
“They had to go and bring an Anambra State government hospital report that Chukwudi Obieze is sick and the hands of the Court of Appeal have been tied. So, they know that when you plead that you are sick, human being can take ill and the Court of Appeal can adjourn this matter. When we were here last Thursday when this matter was supposed to come up and the issue of taking new date came up, they were suggesting February 28 which means that they didn’t want this matter to be heard at all,” Umeh said.
He however said in the face of all these, they have to be patient because at the end of the day, no matter how they run around, the truth would remain constant in the matter, adding that even if they finish what they are doing in the lower court, the Court of Appeal would be here to remedy the situation.