More desperate efforts have been reported to stave off the evil day for Pastor Umo Eno, as Gov Udom Emmanuel is said to have increased the bribe stakes for the judges of the FCT Appeal Panel sitting as Appellate Court reviewing the earlier reversal of Umo Eno’s conviction order, without following due process.
Recall that Umo Eno was convicted by an FCT magistrate court on charges of “cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property” in the suit marked CR/94/2022, involving one Edet Godwin Etim.
“You are hereby directed to arrest the said Pastor Umo Bassey Eno and produce him before me,” ordered chief magistrate Emmanuel Iyanna on December 23, 2022.
A source had told The Cable newspaper that: “The warrant of arrest is based on criminal proceedings conviction conducted by the chief magistrate court, Wuse, Abuja, and directed that the defendant be arrested and brought to court for sentencing having continuously refused to surrender himself to court.”
Curiously, on the 11th day of January, a day after the order of substituted service was issued for hearing slated for 13th January 2023, the same court claimed the conviction and arrest orders were vacated.
A FCT High court sitting as appellate Court was approached to review the order that purportedly and unlawfully set aside Umo Eno’s conviction.
When the matter came up for review on May 17, 2023, Counsel to Umo Eno, Paul Usoro SAN, had filed a motion challenging the jurisdiction of the panel to entertain the suit, apparently in a last minute effort to frustrate the hearing.
The suit was later adjourned to May 24, 2023 for both parties to adopt their respective briefs and thereafter judgement.
However, after an extensive all- night meeting in Government House on May 17, 2023, Paul Usoro, SAN, was directed by Gov Udom Emmanuel to do everything humanly possible to compromise the Appeal panel headed by His Lordship, Justice Belgore, even if it means doubling the bribe so as to enable him send in a letter next week Wednesday, to excuse his appearance in court thereby frustrating its sitting on that day and paving the way for Umo Eno’s swearing-in on May 29th.
A team from Akwa Ibom state government, led by Engr Uwem Okoko, the Managing Director of Hensek, is said to have already mobilised to Abuja, with a directive to double or triple the bribe stakes to Hon. Justice M B Idris and Hon. Justice Belgore, to ensure that the eventual judgement is skewed in favour of Umo Eno.
However, while reacting to the development, some legal analysts opined that Umo Eno’s fate appears sealed, blaming his legal team for doing a shoddy job from the beginning.
“Even if Gov Udom Emmanuel uses all the Akwa Ibom state money to engage in bribery, there is nothing any judicial officer will be able to do in the circumstance due to how Samuel Ikpo and Uwemedimo Nwoko jumped due process to further complicate the case for Umo Eno. The fraudulent Order that purportedly set aside warrant of arrest and conviction was signed the day the court was not sitting as complainant’s lawyers had already obtained the day’s case list,” said Barr Joseph Ibibom.
The expert explained that by operation of law and the Rules of Court, the Appellate Court has been asked to quash the fraudulent order and pronounce sentence outrightly. “Appellate Court is not where Umo Eno can even make any defense as it is not a trial court. Meanwhile what was remaining after conviction was sentencing which the arrest warrant was issued for”, he submitted.