By Stanley Okehie
An Owerri High Court, yesterday January 25th, 2021 delivered judgment in favour of Empire Energy Mega Station over large expanse of land where the multi-billion naira investment is situated.
The High Court of Imo State presided over by Hon. Justice K.A Ojiako delivered a ruling in Suit No: HOW/919/2013 – Dr. Philip Njemanze vs The Governor of Imo State & Ors; setting aside the purported execution of the judgement, delivered by Honourable Justice N.B Ukoha (rtd) on 28/11/2019, on Empire Energy Aba Road on 5/8/2020 as being fraudulent. The court also awarded cost of N100,000 against the Deputy Sheriff for the wrongful act.
Recall that on the 5th of August, 2020, Justice N.B Ukoha (rtd) had delivered a judgement ceding the parcel of land where Empire Energy Mega Station is situated to the Managing Director, New Chidicon Medical Centers, Dr. Philip Njemanze.
Accordingly, Empire Energy Mega Station was sealed off, in execution of the court judgment.
However, Justice K.A Orjiako in his ruling today, 25th January, 2021 set aside that judgement and awarded a cost of N100,000 against the deputy sheriff of the High Court of Imo State who is incharge of execution of orders of the court.
Counsel to Empire Energy, Ikenna Ujah while briefing newsmen after the court judgment said,
“when we were briefed to look into the matter by Empire Energy, we came to court, filed an application to set aside the execution premised on two grounds – first, the parcel of land where Empire Energy is situated, is different and distinct from the land over which the judgement creditor, Dr. Philip Njemanze obtained judgement over. Secondly, assuming without conceding that the plaintiff judgement creditor, Dr. Philip Njemanze obtained judgement over the expanse of land where Empire Energy is located, Empire Energy was not made a party to the suit and as such is not bound by the outcome. So, the processes upon which the execution was founded are incompetent, illegal and fraudulent.”
He added, “the court delivered ruling today 25th day of January, 2021 agreeing with us wholly and entirely that the execution is fraudulent and to underscore the gravity of the fraud, the court awarded the cost of N100,000 against the deputy sheriff of the High Court of Imo State who is incharge of execution of orders of the court.”
Ujah said the court found out that the processes upon which the execution was carried out were not signed by a judge.
Also speaking, Hon. Robertson Ekwebelem who is the 5th Defendant and his company, Royal Rondele Nigeria Limited 6th defendant in the case instituted by Dr. Philip Njemanze said a plot of land was allocated to him by the state government in 2012/2013 upon application.
The former State Lawmaker regretted that Njemanze had joined him and his company in the suit and failed to appear in court whenever the case was called up for hearing.
“All of a sudden, I heard over the radio, that judgement had been given on appeal. Today, in another appeal by Empire Energy who was never made a party to the suit, High Court Imo State said the execution was fraudulent, ultra vires and of no effect and awarded N100,000 fine against the deputy sheriff of the state High Court”, an elated Ekwebelem said.