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Saturday, 28 July 2018

Enugu High Court Deposes Traditional Ruler Of Okpogho Community

Enugu High Court Deposes Traditional Ruler Of Okpogho Community

Pastor Linus Chimereze

A High Court in Enugu State presided over by Hon. Justice R. O. Odugu, On Friday, 27th day of July, 2018 deposed the traditional ruler of Okpogho Community in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State, Pastor Linus Chimereze.

The case with Suit No: E/111/2015 was instituted in September, 2012 by Chief Ibekwe Alloy and Chief Onuorah Cosmas against Pastor Linus Chimereze and the Attorney General, Enugu State at Enugu State High Court, Agu-Obu Owa.

But the matter was later transferred to Enugu by the former Chief Judge of the state, Hon. Justice Umezulike, in 2015 on the application of Pastor Chimereze.

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In a judgement that lasted about two hours, Justice Odugu held that the Commissioner for Chieftaincy Matters, Enugu State, does not have the statutory powers to conduct election into the Igweship stool of okpogho community.

He found that the only powers granted the commissioner under the traditional rulers Law of the state is to settle disputes where igweship is contested or set up administrative panel of inquiry into the issue. He nullified the purported igweship election conducted by the former commissioner, Pastor Emeka Abugu on the 10th day of August, 2012 for Okpogho community.

The Court further found that the election result admitted in evidence as Exhibit P9 and a Video tape admitted as Exhibit D12 manifestingly confirm an arbitrary allocation of scores outside the number of valid votes cast in order to return Pastor Linus Chimereze as traditional ruler of the community. Justice Odugu in the final analysis declared the election as null and void.

He further revoked the certificate of recognition issued to Pastor Chinereze and made an order of perpetual injunction restraining Pastor Chimereze from parading or holding himself out as Traditional ruler/Igwe of Okpogho community.

The Court also ordered the Town union to go ahead and make arrangements for the election, selection or appointment of a traditional ruler for the community.

The Court finally ordered for cost against the former Igwe in favour of the two plaintiffs; Chief Ibekwe Alloy and Chief Onuorah Cosmas, accessed at N50,000 each.

Lead Counsel for the plaintiffs, Sunday A. Okolo Esq. had argued that the commissioner is not empowered by law, and the constitution of the community to conduct igweship election for the community.

According to the statement made available to TheNigeriaLawyer (TNL) the learned Counsel described the judgment of the court as a sound one and urged the parties to go home and do the proper thing.

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