Justice Lewis Alagoa of Federal High Court in Owerri has ordered the immediate arrest of Imo State Commissioner for Works and Transport Josephine Udoji; the Commissioner for Lands, Survey, and Urban Planning, Mr. Lawrence Eburuoh, and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works Chibuzor Iwuagwu.
The court ordered their arrest for violating court orders, which amount to contempt of court.
Others are the Director of Works, C. E. Egbuka; and the Director of Works Imo State Government House, Owerri, Emeka Duru, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) says.
Justice Alagoa, presiding over the civil suit number FHC/OW/133/2016 filed by a former interior minister, Emmanuel Iheanacho, against Imo government, gave the order on Monday due to the absence of all the defendants in court.
Mr. Alagoa ordered the Inspector-General of Police and his officers to arrest the Imo officials wherever they are sighted across the country.
The court had during its sitting on November 14, 2016, summoned all the defendants to appear before it on December 8, 2016; but none of them showed up.
The counsel to the defendants, J. C. Ibe, told the court that the respondents had filed an appeal against the earlier order of the court.
Mrs. Ibe said that notices of the appeal and stay of proceeding, notice of preliminary objection and affidavit contesting the contempt order against the respondents had been served on the claimant.
However, counsel to the plaintiff, Ken Njemanze, said that his client was not aware of any appeal by the respondents as claimed by their counsel.
Mr. Njemanze said they looked up to the court on the earlier order made against the respondents, adding that their attitude amounted to total disrespect of court.
“What is discouraging to us in this suit my lord, is the intentional act of frustrating progress in the suit by the defendants.’’
Mr. Alagoa, hearing the arguments of the counsel, made the subsequent order and fixed May 2 for continuation of the matter.
Mr. Iheanacho had gone to court over the demolition of part of his property on Orlu Road in Owerri Urban by construction workers engaged for road expansion by the state government.