THE scheduled inaugural sitting of the judicial panel of inquiry on the activities of the proscribed board of the Abia State Physical Planning and Infrastructural Development Fund scheduled for yesterday at the Umuahia High Court premises did not hold.
Chairman of the panel, Mr. Justice Kevin Wosu, said it failed to sit following failure of the seven members of the proscribed board to appear before it at 10.00 a.m. when the five member-panel took its seat.
And not expecting the scenario, Wosu addressed the court thus: “This panel gives the board members another one week grace to appear before it at its next sitting on June 11, 2012. If on this date they fail to appear, we shall issue warrant of arrest on them. This is a judicial panel of inquiry that has ways and means, like a court, of enforcing the law.
“This panel is surprised that despite due service on the former board members and public announcements, they did not appear before this panel today”.
But reacting to the court ruling, Mr. Okey Mike Nwaubani, who chaired the proscribed board comprising Mr. Adi Elekwa, Dr. Sam Ahiwe, two traditional rulers: Eze Jonathan Ezere and John Akaliro; Dr. John Udeagbala and Okey Onyemuwa, denied receipt of the panel’s summons.
Nwaubani told The Guardian: “Court summons are not served over media or news announcements. None of the our board members was duly served with the panel notice till date and we cannot respond to news announcements.
“Besides, there is a pending court process in which we are challenging the dissolution of our board. The said dissolution did not follow due process and this is what we have applied to the court to determine”.
Three weeks ago, Governor Theodore Orji proscribed the board and announced that a judicial panel would be constituted to investigate its activities.
The board’s mandate include collecting statutory levies on building construction and using same to address certain infrastructural deficiency in accordance with the law creating it.