The suit filed by Chief Onyekachi Nwaebonyi challenging the dissolution of the State Executive Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has suffered a setback as Justice Vincent Nwanchor of the Ebonyi State High Court who is handling the case, has recused himself from the matter.
The suit was to be ruled on the 18th of this month but was adjourned till January 20 this month following an application by Counsel to the Defendants, Chief Mudi Erenede that they had filed an appeal on the jurisdiction of the State High court.
This is the third time in a row a Presiding Judge is recusing himself from the case after Justice Elvis Ngene and the state’s Chief Judge, Justice Anslem Nwigwem, did same some weeks ago when the matter was handed over to them.
At the resumed sitting, Erenede tendered another application asking the Presiding Judge, Justice Nwanchor to recuse himself on grounds that he was a brother to the Deputy Governor of the state, Dr. Kelechi Igwe, who is an interested party in the suit.
He argued that the Presiding Judge failed to protect him in the last adjourned date when Counsel to Chief Onyekachi Nwaebonyi, Chief Roy Nweze, threatened to slap him and therefore urged him to ‘step aside’.
But in his counter motion, Counsel to Chief Nwebonyi urged the court to dismiss the application as the claim of brotherhood with the deputy governor would not taint his judgment.
He also averred that there was no factual evidence to support the claim that he threatened to slap counsel to the defendants.
After listening to the arguments, the Presiding Judge, Justice Nwanchor ruled that he could not deny the fact that he was of the same community with the deputy governor of the State and therefore recused himself to protect the integrity of the court.
Speaking with Journalists shortly after the court sitting in Abakaliki,
Barr Onyekachi Nwebonyi said, “It’s very unfortunate today is the second day we are expecting the ruling of the court but the defendants in there usual way continued to truncate the proceedings of the court in this matter, and have again raised another issue of bias on the side of the court which is apparently unfounded, but the court for the interest of Justice have just recused herself from continuing hearing the matter and has accordingly transferred the matter and I believe that the court in no time will reasign the case to another court.
“I want to put the record straight, that this is a delay tactics by the defendants knowing fully well that the law is not on their side”.
The State Caretaker Chairman PDP, Ebonyi State chief Fred Udeogu on his part, refuted the accusation by Nwebonyi, but maintained that his party has come this far because they have been presenting the facts in the court.
The counsel to Fred Udeogu’s led PDP caretaker committee Chief Mudi Erenede commended the judge for doing the proper thing.
“The outcome of the court is that the court has done what the law expects of him and he has sent the case file to the chief judge to reassign to any judge of his choice so that is the stage we are when they bring a new judge we will go there and determine what will happen”.