Defection: Okorocha, AG Resolve Dispute over Counsel

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Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, has told a Federal High Court in Abuja that Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) is his counsel for the purpose of defending the suit instituted against him by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) seeking to compel him to vacate the governorship seat after defecting to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Last week, Justice Ahmed Mohammed had directed Okorocha and the state's Attorney General, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN), to appear before him in view of their inability to agree on who should instruct a lawyer to defend the governor in court.

The judge gave the directive because the lawyers instructed separately by Okorcha and Ume could not agree on who should legitimately represent the governor.

When the case came up yesterday,
Akintola announced appearance and affirmed to the court that Okorocha had engaged him as his counsel and that the dispute on the legal representation had been resolved.

Justice Mohammed cut in and demanded for the whereabouts of Sunday Olabode who was contesting the legal representation for Okorocha with Akintola.
The attention of the court was drawn by the clerk to a letter from Olabode informing the court of his withdrawal from the suit.

In the letter, Olabode said he withdrew for Akintola to take over the legal representation but did not give reasons for doing so.

Though Akintola had complained to the court that he was not copied the letter, but Justice Mohammed directed him to write to the court for the Certified True Copy and that the court would oblige him.

In a short ruling, the court held that "since the dispute on legal representation has been resolved, the case will be adjourned till October 8 for hearing of the substantive matter."

APGA is seeking an order directing Okorocha to vacate office having defected from the party.

APGA had through its counsel, Victor Odjemu, prayed the court for an order directing the Deputy Governor of Imo State or Speaker of the state House of Assembly or any officer next in line to the position of the governor of the state, who is a member of the plaintiff (APGA) to be sworn in as the governor of the state.

APGA also asked the court for an order directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a certificate of return to the person declared as governor and an order annulling the certificate of return issued to Okorocha (1st defendant) by virtue of his defection to the APC.

The plaintiff also sought a declaration that by virtue of the provisions of Section 177(c) and 221 of the 1999 Constitution as amended and Section 97 of the Electoral 2010 (as amended) and the effect of the Supreme Court decision in Amaechi Vs INEC reported in 2008, 5 NWLR part 108, 227 particularly at page 317-325, the Imo State governorship mandate given at the April 2011 elections remained with the plaintiff (APGA) and the said mandate should be exercised by the deputy governor of Imo State or Speaker of the House of Assembly or any officer next in line to the office of the governor.

Other defendants in the case are the INEC and the state assembly.

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