By Pita Ochai
A Federal High Court in Warri, Delta State has ordered the maintenance of status quo antebellum in the case over the naming of the deep seaport project in Warri South West Local Government Area of the state.
The naming of the project, which is part of the $l6 billion Export Processing Zone (EPZ) sited in Ogidigben, Warri South West local government area, has been trailed by controversy, prompting the Ugborodo people who lay claim to the entire parcel of land where both projects are located to institute a lawsuit against the authorities.
Ruling on the suit number FHC/WR/86/2015 brought before the court by Chief Ayirimi Emami, ltse Elijah Wilkie, Mike Okoturo, Pastor Emiko Fregene and Samuel Pirah (1st-5th plaintiffs) on behalf of Ugborodo community, the presiding judge of the court, Justice Shittu Abubakar ordered all parties in the suit to “maintain the status quo antebellum and refrain from mentioning the deep seaport after any community pending the determination of the substantive suit.”
Ruling on the interlocutory injunction sought by the plaintiffs, Friday evening, Justice Abubakar said that since the 1st, 2nd and 4th defendants namely the Federal Government, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice as well as the Delta State government respectively, did not file any counter affidavit against the motion of the plaintiffs, “it goes to show that they have no opposition” to it.
According to him, it would be in the interest of justice for the parties in the suit to maintain the status quo, because the matter was now subject to the court, even as he posited that the application of the plaintiffs had merit.
At the court for the plaintiffs were L.O. Egboyi and D.E. Oki, while the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) counsel, M.O. Maduakolam was represented by D.O. Omage.
The Delta State Government was represented for the first time by E. Akpoghene, Senior State Counsel, Robinson Ariyo, while Chief F. Zimughan, both representing Kpokpo and Gbaramatu communities respectively, sought to be joined in the suit as second plaintiffs and defendants respectively.
It would be recalled that Chief Ayirimi Emami, Itse Elijah Wilkie, Mike Okoturo, Pastor Emiko Fregene and Samuel Pirah for ligborodo community through the lead counsel, Chief Efe .L. Akpofure (SAN), had filed an interlocutory injunction, asking the court to, among other declare that “the proposed naming of the deep seaport sited in Ugborodo land between Madangho and Ubefai is “wrongful, unconstitutional, illegal and therefore, null and void.”