A Federal High Court has ordered an Abuja based lawyer, Prince Orji Nwafor-Orizu to produce a medical report from a recognized government psychiatric hospital confirming that he is mentally stable to appear before the court.
Justice Okon Abang who issued the order on Friday, stressed that Nwafor-Orizu, who is representing Osita Izunsaso in the suit filed by governor Rochas Okorocha against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over his certificate of return as winner of the Imo West senatorial seat would not be accorded audience in the matter again until he produce such report.
In addition, the court held that Orizu must equally enter an undertaken to be of good conduct throughout the hearing and conclusion of the matter, not just before the Federal High Court in Abuja, but before any other superior court of record.
It all began when Orizu who was not in court when the case was called, galloped into the court when counsel to the plaintiff, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN) was already on his feet to address the court.
Meanwhile, in Orizu’s absence, another lawyer, S.N. Anichebe had announced his appearance on behalf of Uzodinma, but just as the plaintiff’s counsel was about to make his submissions, Orizu interrupted and insisted that the court cannot proceed with the matter claiming that he was in possession of an order of the Court of Appeal staying proceedings.
While brandishing the alleged order of the Court of Appeal, Orizu shouted, “this court cannot sit on this matter. This matter cannot go on.”
His action elicited the following exchanges between him and Justice Abang, who asked him to sit down and stop interrupting the court as he is not a counsel on record in the proceeding.
Nwafor- Orizu told the judge that he will sit down, on the ground that he has a document from the Court of Appeal, which has been served on all parties in the matter, including the court.
“Don’t raise your voice in court. What you are doing is unethical. You are frustrating the court. This is not a village square. You are not a counsel on record. I have been exercising patient to see if you can calm down”, Justice Abang told him.
Orizu said the court has no right to sit when he has an order of the Court of Appeal staying proceedings.
Justice held that Orizu must be subjected to medical examination to ascertain the state of his mental fitness.
Regardless, Kehinde in his submission urged the court to grant the reliefs sought by his client adding that, there is a conflict of evidence between the plaintiff and 2nd to 8th respondents.
He submitted that the only documentary evidence before the court is the certified True Copy of the police report on the collation of election of result and that the court will find that there is no issue of violence or threat or confusion.
That the respondents attached a report by the returning officer addressed to INEC. The report is not certified and so it is worthless.
The law is that since it is previous evidence made in writing by the returning officer without calling on the returning officer to give evidence as a witness by an affidavit, the court cannot attach any weight to it.
In her response, counsel to INEC, Mrs Wendy Kuku urged the court to dismiss the suit for being incompetent.
She attacked the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit on the grounds that being a post-election issue, it is only the National Assembly election petition tribunal that has the jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter.
She argued that the non-issuance of the certificate of return which is bordered on the executive and administrative act on INEC been challenged in this suit, is election-related.
It was the submission of INEC that the cause of action having arisen out of an election that have been conducted, the suit is not a subject matter within the jurisdiction of the court and accordingly, urged court to dismiss and or strike out suit for lacking in merit and want of jurisdiction.
In his submissions, Nnawuchi, counsel to the 2nd defendant, (Hon. Jones Onyeriri) challenged the mode of the commencement of the suit by an originating summons, when the facts are in dispute.
He argued that the proper mode of bringing the action ought to have been by a writ of summons were oral evidence can be called to resolve the dispute.
He urged the court to dismiss the suit as incompetent having been wrongly commenced by originating summons or in the alternative, order pleadings where oral evidence can be called.