$16bn EPZ: Wide Jubilation As Court Halts Actions On Naming Of Deep Seaport Project
SAN FRANCISCO, July 10, (THEWILL) – A Federal High Court sitting 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 $16billion Export Processing Zone (EPZ) sited in Ogidigben, Warri South West Local Government Area, had been dogged by controversy prompting the Ugborodo people who had laid claim to the entire parcel of land where both projects are located to institute a lawsuit against the authorities.
But ruling Friday on the suit Nos: FHC/WR/86/2015 brought before the court by Chief Ayirimi Emami, Itse 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 will be in the interest of justice for the parties in the suit to maintain the status quo, because the matter is now subject to the court, even as he posited that the application of the plaintiffs has merit.
THEWILL reliably gathered that the outcome of the lawsuit had elicited wide jubilation by the Itsekiris who thronged the court premises in droves to witness the outcome of the ruling on Friday .
According to a local resident of the area, the mood was that of “victory with caution on one part and disappointment/combat readiness on the other…”
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.
THEWILL recalled that Chief Ayirimi Emami, Itse Elijah Wilkie, Mike Okoturo, Pastor Emiko Fregene and Samuel Pirah for Ugborodo community through their lead counsel, Chief Efe .L. Akpofure (SAN), had filed an interlocutory injunction, asking the court to, among others, declare that “the proposed naming of the Deep Seaport sited in Ugborodo land between Madangho and Ubefan” is “wrongful, against public policy, unconstitutional, illegal and therefore null and void.”