Court set to determine fate of sacked Ogbaru market executive

July 1, 2022
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By CHUKS EKE

All is now set for an Atani High Court presided by Justice Alexius Okuma, today, Friday July 1, 2022 , to determine whether Anambra State Government has the locus to sack an elected executive members of Ogbaru main market and install an appointed caretaker committee to man the affairs of the market union pending when another election would be conducted.

The state government had through the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, sacked the Chief Ndubuisi Ochiogu led elected executives of Ogbaru Main Market, popularly called Relief Market, in April this year and appointed chief David Obidike led caretaker committee to man the affairs of the market union, based on a mere allegation that their January 25, 2022 election was a flawed one.

In a fundamental right application  brought by Ochiogu’s counsel,  Chief Ben Uzuegbu (SAN) against Dr. Obinna Ngonadi, the State Commissioner for Trade, Commerce and Industry and the Attorney-General of the State, Ochiogu is praying the court that he  cannot be removed  as chairman of the market when he has  not been  given opportunity to be heard by the respondents in the alleged flawed election.

Justice Okuma had earlier granted  an exparte order directing  that the status quo ante bellum be maintained in the leadership of the market until the determination of the substantive matter which the judgment is expected to be delivered today.

But no sooner than the Ministry received the order of the Court than they,  according to Uzuegbu ” impudently and without regard  to due process and rule of law  caused the letter (of suspension of Election of the Ogbaru Main Market Traders Association) under reference to be authored”.

When the case came up for hearing on June 3, 2022,Chief Uzuegbu complained to the court of the harassment of his client, Chief Ochiogu by security operatives in the State due to the order of the Commissioner.

Justice Okuma went ahead to direct that there should be no harassment  and intimidation of Ochiogu and his executives until the matter is determined.

But, inspite of the  express court orders the Commissioner was said to have come with a team of Police men and thugs from the office of Anambra State Markets Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA) ransacked the office of the chairman, turned everything upside down and sacked workers there to install the Caretaker Committee led by Chief David Obidike.

When the matter came up for hearing again. on June17, 2022, Chief Uzuegbu complained of what he called executive lawlessness, saying that the Commissioner has not only constituted the  Caretaker Committee in clear disobedience to the order of the court that status quo ante bellum be maintained but has gone ahead to continue to harass his client with security operatives.

Uzuegbu told the Court that he had called their lawyer, Loveline Ezude, Principal State Counsel to advise her clients to stay action in line with court order.

But on July 16, 2021, said Uzuegbu, they evaded the market , threw people out of the applicants’ office, saying that there was no reason for such rascality.

He said it was worrisome that the executive that suppose to obey consequential court order flouted it with impunity.

Uzuegbu said their action was ultra vires, stating that the fact that the matter is in court was  enough for the executive to stay clear from taking any action, not to talk of when there is a clear order of the court on the matter.

He therefore urged the court to quash the decision of the Commissioner  to sack Ochiogu and his colleagues in the executive of Ogbaru Main Market.

Loveline Ezude, Principal State Counsel,

who is the respondents’ counsel,  however, said that the applicants were given opportunity to defend themselves but that was after the Caretaker Committee has taken over their position and resume office.

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