*Says He Attempted To Explain To The Judge But Was Misunderstood
*Says The Situation Was A Case Of Innocent misinterpretation By His Lead Counsel
The lawyer who allegedly forged the order of Port Harcourt Federal High Court, Stanley Chidiebere Eziefule, has denied the allegation.
Recall that news went viral on the cyberspace alleging that a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt had in a suit filed by Mr. Charles Osaretin against the Governor of Edo State and 5 others marked Suit No. FHC/PH/FHR/266/2021, granted an Order Restraining the Governor of Edo State and the Edo State Government from enforcing the directive of the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, mandating all the residents of Edo State to compulsorily get vaccinated for Covid-19 or risk denial of access to Church, worship centres, Banks and other public services in the State. The report later had it that the order was forged by Eziefule as no such order was granted by the court.
However, Eziefule, in a statement made available to TheNigeriaLawyer signed by himself said he never forged the said order and in fact, no such order existed neither were there any replica that can be compared to determine authenticity of either of them
He admitted however that there was a misunderstanding when the matter came up for hearing on 17th of September, 2021 as his attempt to explain the situation was futile.
He said, “My name is Stanley C. Eziefule Esq. It is with great dismay and utter bewilderment that i read on various social media platforms, the news of a purported reportage and/or publication by one Santos Owootori Esq of the event that played out in court on 17th day of September, 2021, purportedly depicting and portraying me as one who got the Secretary of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt to alter, amend or tinker with the order made by my Lord, Hon. Justice A. Muhammend on 01/09/2021.
“As a result of this very unprofessional reportage by the said Santus Owootori Esq., I have been insulted across various social media platforms and print media, portrayed as a criminal, a misfit and a disgrace to the legal profession thereby leaving me and my loved ones psychologically and mentally traumatized and debased as my phone lines and social media pages are constantly bombarded with calls and messages of insults. This has clearly now affected my practice, productivity and integrity as a lawyer.
“Consequently, it has become imperative that I make this rejoinder and state clearly the sequence of events that played out in court on the 17/09/2021 in light of the Application filed and moved in Suit No.FHC/PH/FHR/270/2021 wherein the Order now in issue was granted and drawn.
“It is with respect that I state that I am a lawyer with over 9 years at the bar and have been practicing ever since I was called. It is on record that I have never been found wanting or compromised my integrity or that of the bench in my short but eventful years of legal practice. This is even more so as all our colleagues whom I have worked with at one time or the other can attestate to my integrity in dealing with clients and even court officials in respect of cases conducted by me. I state once again that at no point did I alter, add or amend the order of the court either by myself, through the Court Secretary or by any other person howsoever called. It is judicial sacrilege to even conceive such a thought.
“We filed a fundamental Rights application before the court and we also filed motions before the court. In one of the motions, we prayed his lordship thus: (a) for leave for the said application to be heard during the vacation period and (b) an order for parties to maintain status quo pending the final determination of the fundamental Rights application pending before my Lord.
“The motion for leave was moved and granted on the 1st day of September, 2021 as prayed. When the enrolled order came out I noticed that the Court’s order contained only the leave to hear the matter during vacation but didn’t contain the order for parties to maintain status quo. On my part, I felt this may be an omission so I asked that it be shown to my Lord so that if the person who typed it out omitted the second prayer, my Lord may order them to retype it. From the information donated to me, the Registrar was able to show it to my Lord and pointed out my observations. From what the Registrar told me, when he showed it to my Lord, my Lord said that there was no omission and that the enrolled order was correct as it was drawn. The Registrar brought it back to me and I took it and went to certify it as it was handed to me.
“On 17/09/2021 when the matter came up for hearing, we had not fully served all the parties and so we were to inform the court that we have not served all the parties so that if the Court permits us, we will take a date to do the needful. I was led by E.O. Odey Esq., whom I handed the original copy of the certified Order of Court on the 13th day of September, 2021 which was about 4 days before the matter came up on the 17th day of September, 2021. I was surprised when the Counsel leading me told the Court that the Court’s order was not being obeyed, just as the Court was surprised too. The Court even had to go through the orders in the Court’s file and still could not find the order he was referring to. I tried to draw his attention that the Order he was referring to was only contained in the prayers but not in the Orders my Lord made so there was no such order because even the Order he brandished before the Court which was the Original copy of the certified order didn’t contain what he was arguing about. invariably he didn’t hear me as he carried on with his argument with the court. It was at this point the Court asked him if he was in court the day the order made and he said that I (S.C. Eziefule) was the person who took the application and got the order. At this point the atmosphere in the Court was already fully charged and my Lord was angry. When I stood up to address the court, I inadvertently forgot to quickly inform the Court that there was no such order because both the orders in the Court’s file, the original copy of the ctc the Counsel leading me had and the photocopy of the said Certified True copy of the order which I have are all the same. None contained anything different from the other. Secondly I was supposed to read the Order we had for the Court to hear. This would have settled all of these but I missed that in the heat of the whole situation in the court. Instead I was trying to explain to the court as I narrated above and to conclude by letting the Court know that there was no such order granted but I did not finish explaining this before my Lord ordered me to enter the dock. It was at this point that the Learned Silk and others pleaded on our behalf with the court.”
He further explained that he never knew that the order by the Federal High Court directing him to enter the dock was for the alleged forgery. He thought it was on the basis of the argument between the judge and his lead counsel
He urged the public to disregard the contrary resorts alleging that he altered courts order as such reports are false.
“My thought clearly on the events was that the Court’s anger towards us came to be basically because of the argument the lead counsel had with his Lordship. I only found out from the social media platforms that reported the event that the reason for our being docked was because I was alleged to have gotten the court Secretary to alter the order made by my Lord. I have since contacted the court and nowhere was it stated or written that I doctored the ruling of the court either as alleged or at all by the Reporters. Attached herewith is a copy of the order made(which was also with us in court on the said day).
Please, kindly disregard any contrary report or publication of events that allegedly unfolded at the FHC, Port Harcourt Judicial Division on 17/09/21 as they do not represent the true state of facts of what transpired in court on the said day. What i have stated here represents the actual sequence of events that played out in court on that day. My learned senior never wanted to mislead the court and I’m sure he never had time to go through that order. This was just a clear case of innocent misinterpretation of the said order of court.” Eziefule said.
Eziefule further provided the Certified True Copy of the order of the court to show that there is no difference between it and the one on the court’s record.
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