Justice Alexious Okuma of Atani High Court, Onitsha, has directed the Anambra State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Dr Christian Ngonadi, and other officials of the ministry to stop harassing the Chairman of Ogbaru Main Market, Chief Ndubuisi Ochiogu, and the members of his executives with security operatives.
Justice Okuma issued the order on Friday when the case brought by the Ochiogu-led executive against the commissioner for commerce and the Attorney-General of the State came up for hearing at the Onitsha High Court.
The directive came following the complaints by the counsel to the leadership of Ogbaru Main Market, Chief Ben Uzuegbu (SAN), that the order of the court that the status quo ante bellum should be maintained was not obeyed by the commissioner and his officials.
Uzuegbu stated that the commissioner and the government officials have been harassing his clients using the Police and Department of State Services.
The Principal State Counsel, Loveline Ezude, who appeared for the Commissioner and others, however, accused Ochiogu and his executives of using thugs to harass and intimidate traders in the market.
Justice Okuma in his directive said there was no need for the involvement of the security operatives by the government officials in a matter being handled by the court, noting that the government, as the father of all, should always toe the line of civility in the discharge of their duties.
He warned that no trader in the market should be harassed, touched or stopped from carrying out his/her legitimate business.
Justice Okuma also warned that he should not hear that the leadership of the market imposed any levy on the traders to collect money to pay Judge, saying he would not hesitate to descend heavily on anybody found involved in such an act.
He said if a trader has a problem, the Commissioner or any other government official does not need to come into the matter when he knows that the matter is in the court, rather such matter should be brought to the notice of the Court.
Speaking to newsmen, Uzuegbu, said a situation where an allegation was made that something happened in the market but the Attorney General and Commissioner were not there and the allegations were not against them, but an individual problem, they were not supposed to come into the matter, when they knew that the traders are in the court and there is an order of the Court that the status quo ante bellum be maintained.
He said until the matter was disposed off, the president and every other person will be working until the final order is made.
“We don’t know what will be the final order, it may be in our favour, it may be against us, if it is against us, we go home or we appeal. We are not in the stone age where whatever you want to do, you do it or when you have a problem with your brother, you start using your might. No. The new society is when you have a problem, report to an independent arbiter, which is the court,” said the SAN.
Uzuegbu said the Court will dispassionately look at the matter.
“If at the end of the day, the court comes up with its decision. If you don’t accept the decision, there is another court until you get to the Supreme Court, then you leave it to God.
“It is important for this government that promised the people to follow the rule of law and due process to live by its promises. So far the judge has warned them to stop disturbing these traders,” he added.
The matter was adjourned to June 17, 2022, for further hearing.