Mr. Obumneme Francis Ezeiru the father of 11-year-old Master Chisimdi Ezeiru; Elochukwu Onyedika Ezeiru, the marketing manager of Zenith Bank, 9th mile, Enugu and his wife, Favour, the Head of Branch Service, First Bank Aroma Awka, are at the risk of being committed to prison over the custody of Master Chisimdi.
This follows an order of an Enugu State High Court presided by Justice I. Okibe for Form 49 to be served on the trio of Obumneme, Elochukwu and Favour, the first, second and third respondents for their failure to obey two different orders of Nigeria Court and another order of Washington state Court.
Master Chisimdi Ezeiru is one of the products of the failed marriage between Obumneme Francis Ezeiru and Chisom Obianozie (both residents of the United States).
The plaintiff, Mrs. Obianozie, had dragged the trio to Enugu High court over their failure to release Master Chisimdi for summer holiday as ordered by Washington state Court (where both parents of the child resides).
On Tuesday, the plaintiff’s counsel, Mrs. Augustina Onah, Esq. told the court that the respondents are in clear violation of three different others of the court, two in Enugu State and one in the U.S.
The first was an order of a Washington court marked exhibit B, which was given 20th April, 2023 in Washington Court.
The second order, marked Exhibit A, was by Justice C. I. Nwobodo, given on 28th July, 2023, which was given in line with the ruling of the Washington court directing the respondents to release Master Chisimdi to her mother to travel to the United States for summer holidays.
While the third and subsisting order mandated the respondents to produce Master Chisimdi Ezeiru in court on Tuesday August 29, 2023 was given on 22nd August 2023.
Barr. Onah in her applications told the court that the respondents have refused to obey the three different orders. She further stated that form 48 has been served on the respondents for disobeying the 2nd order on the 16th of August, 2023.
However, Barr. C. S Esele who was on holding brief for the counsel to the respondents interjected by telling the court that they’re not in contempt as they’ve appealed the matter and seeking for a stay of execution.
On why the respondents failed to produce master Chisimdi in court, Esele said he was unable to reach them and they never told him they won’t be producing the little boy in court.
The plaintiff’s lawyer told the court that the appeal was after form 48 had been served to the respondents insisting that they can’t come to court for stay of execution with dirty hands (after disregarding the court) and said that’s why they have filed form 49.
Onah said her second application before the court is with respect to the disregard to the 3rd order to produce the child in court. She said on the day the child was to be produced, the lawyer to the 2nd respondent, said he was unable to talk and the little he spoke, he said the first respondent has taken the child to Abuja and requested for a long date following which they were given one week (which is today).
She further said that non of the three respondents had deemed it necessary to appear in court, while decrying the spate of in facie curiae and ex facie curiae contempts by the respondents and therefore, prayed the court to make two orders.
One was for service of from 49 on the respondents and a warrant of arrest.
The judge took a swipe on the respondents for failing to obey the orders of the court and accused them of deceiving the court of seeking for long time to enable them file for appeal.
A little drama ensued when Barr. Esele told the court that the child was brought back to Nigeria to correct his speech problem. The surprised judge asked the lawyer “do you even believe yourself?” and advised him to properly guide their clients to stop disobeying the court.
The judge granted the application for form 49 to be served on the respondents at their last known address, plot 423 Premier Layout, Independence Layout, Enugu.
“I do agree with the applicant that the respondents don’t want to obey the orders of the court and the prayer for form 49 to be served on them is granted.
“The application by Ugwu for more time is aimed at deceiving the court to allow him seek time to file for appeal (though the appeal won’t stop the court.)
The case was adjourned until Sept 7, 2023.