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Court rejects suit seeking to declare Ohanaeze Ndigbo as illegal organisation

NEWSMAN, Abuja –  Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, dismissed a suit seeking the declaration of the Igbo social cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, as illegal organisation.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a ruling, also rejected the call for the arrest, probe and prosecution of the President General of the association, Prof George Obiozor and other leaders of the group over alleged contempt.

Justice Ekwo held that the applicant; The Registered Trustees of Ohanaeze Indigbo General Assembly, led by Barrister Onuorah Basil Onyeachonam, failed to show that Obiozor and others committed any offence known to law to warrant their arrest, investigation and prosecution.

He said after a thorough evaluation of the processes filed by the applicant he found that it failed to establish a prima facie case to warrant the grant of the reliefs sought.

The Onyeachonam-led Ohanaeze Indigbo General Assembly had, in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/56/2021 claimed that Obiozor and other leaders of the Ohanaeze Indigbo, who emerged from the recently conducted election, were in contempt by allegedly running an illegal organisation.

The applicant, in the suit which had the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as respondents, claimed that while it was duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the group with a similar name, led by Obiozor and others was unregistered.

It then filed an ex-parte application for 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 Obiozor and others for allegedly running an illegal and/or unregistered association known as Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

The applicant said its resort to the court was because of the failure of the respondents to act on its letters to them on Jan.15 for the arrest and prosecution of Obiozor and others.

In the ruling on Friday, Justice Ekwo said: “The prayer here is for leave to compel the first and second respondents (IGP and AGF) 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, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported.

“In my opinion, where such prayer is sought, it must be demonstrated with concrete evidence that those sought to be arrested, investigated and prosecuted have committed criminal offence(s) known to law.

“This is 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.

“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,” Justice Ekwo added.

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