Senator Osita Izunaso, the third defendant in the ongoing certificate of return suit filed by Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo, narrowly escaped being sent to prison on Wednesday.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja said that Izunaso ought to have been remanded in prison for putting up an attitude before the court which could best be described as “rascality of the highest order”.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, the judge announced that he received an affidavit of facts filed by Izunaso that he had an application at the Court of Appeal for a stay of proceedings in the matter.
While all counsel to the defendants prayed the court to honour the said application for stay of proceedings, Okorocha’s counsel, Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN, urged the court to dismiss it because it was incompetent.
Having listened to submissions from all counsel in the matter, the judge then asked the court registrar to ask Izunaso to stand in front of the court in order to listen to his ruling properly.
The judge in his ruling held that putting the name of a presiding judge as one of the parties to be served a court process filed at the Court of Appeal was scandalous and embarrassing and showed that Izunaso had no respect for the court.
“The motion filed at the Court of Appeal where my name is recorded is before me, tagged as exhibit c, attached to the third defendant’s affidavit of facts.
“The third defendant is also before me so I have jurisdiction over him summarily if that was not sufficient, he deposed to an affidavit that the motion was duly served on me.
“This is only to ridicule the court and lower the esteem of the judge in the eye of the public as if the judge is a party in the matter.
“This shows the level of disregard Izunaso has for the court which is established by the constitution.”
According to the judge, the conduct of the senator that is before me is contemptuous; it is contempt to the face of the court not outside the court.
“I have jurisdiction to deal with him summarily because he is the contemnor and he is before the court.
“The senator ought to have been remanded in prison today for contempt of court, he is before me and the offensive affidavit is also before me.”
Justice Abang held that in the case of contempt before the court, the judge was the complainant, the prosecutor and remained the judge.