SUSPENSION: NBA, ODUAH DISAGREE ON COURT’S RULING ON NEC RATIFICATION
There is a fierce disagreement between the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and Mrs. Joyce Oduah as to the effect of today’s ruling by the Federal High Court on Oduah’s suspension as General Secretary.
While the Lead Counsel to Oduah, Mr. Muritala Abdul-rasheed SAN told CITY LAWYER that the court has nullified the suspension for all times, the Lead Counsel to NBA, Mr. Godwin Omoaka SAN said that the suspension by the National Officers subsists.
CITY LAWYER gathered that the Motion on Notice to set aside the suspension by the National Officers could not be taken as the third to 13th defendants had not been served. The court then granted an order to serve the defendants by substituted means.
It was at this stage that Mr. Ayotunde Ogunleye, who held the brief of Abdul-rasheed, told the court that the NBA-NEC had proceeded to ratify Oduah’s suspension, saying this was an affront on the court.
CITY LAWYER gathered that the court berated the NBA-NEC for the ratification and set same aside, even as it adjourned the substantive motion to August 31, 2022 for hearing.
Speaking on the import of today’s ruling, Abdul-rasheed told CITY LAWYER that the suspension by NBA has been laid to rest. “Everything relating to the suspension has been nullified by the court,” he said. “You will recall that the decision by the National Officers remained inchoate unless and until ratified by the NBA-NEC. Given that the ratification has now been set aside by the court, our client has been restored to her position. The Motion on Notice has become academic and we shall withdraw same at the next adjourned date. We shall however proceed with the lawsuit vis-a-vis the other prayers we are seeking from the court. Indeed, we shall be amending the processes to claim huge damages against the NBA for the disrepute to which they had brought on our client.”
Omoaka disagrees vigorously with Abdul-rasheed, saying that the court only set aside the NBA-NEC ratification.
He stated that the suspension by the National Officers “remains undisturbed by the court’s ruling which only relates to the subsequent ratification by NBA-NEC.”
He stated that both the Motion on Notice and original lawsuit seeking to set aside the decision by the National Executive Committee have not been decided by the court. “The matter has not been heard and determined on the merits, ” he argues. “If the argument is that the suspension has been set aside by the court, what then is the import of the plaintiff’s processes in the court’s file?”
CITY LAWYER recalls that Justice A. R. Mohammed had last week declined to grant Oduah’s prayer for interim reliefs, leading to her exclusion from superintending the NBA Secretariat at the recently concluded NBA National Executive Council (NBA-NEC) Meeting which held last Sunday on the sidelines of the Annual General Conference.
The NBA-NEC had brushed aside the court case to ratify Oduah’s suspension by the National Officers, even as it fell short of impeaching her, citing the lawsuit. The meeting also ratified the appointment of Ms. Uche Nwadialo as Acting General Secretary.
Justice Mohammed had however adjourned the matter to today for hearing on Oduah’s Motion on Notice, the court having ordered her to serve NBA with the processes.
Among the defendants are the Incorporated Trustees of the Nigerian Bar Association; NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata; other National Officers and the Inspector-General of Police. The ex-parte application had sought to restrain the NBA and other defendants from giving effect to Oduah’s suspension by the NBA National Executive Committee among other reliefs.
CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report noted the suspension of Oduah by a unanimous decision of the NBA-NEC, even as the National Officers also vowed to drag her to the National Executive Council for removal over alleged gross misconduct.
According to a Motion Ex-parte obtained by CITY LAWYER, the plaintiff is seeking “AN ORDER OF INTERIM INJUNCTION OF THIS HONOURABLE COURT, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice, restraining the Defendants by themselves, through their officers, servants, privies, agents or any other persons(s), agencies or individuals deriving power, command, authority, instruction or directives from it from acting or relying on or continuing to rely on, act on, implement, give effect to, interfere with or do anything to the prejudice of the Plaintiff/Applicant based on the decision document titled: “Resolution of the Meeting of the National Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association held on 15 August, 2022” wherein the Plaintiff/Applicant was purportedly suspended from office as the General Secretary of the 1st Defendant/Respondent by the 3rd to 11th Defendants/Respondents.”
Oduah also prayed for an order “restraining the Defendants by themselves, through their officers, servants, privies, agents or any other persons(s), agencies or individuals deriving power, command, authority, instruction or directives from them from suspending/removing the Plaintiff/Applicant as the General Secretary of the 1st Defendant/Respondent (the Nigerian Bar Association).”
While urging the court to bar Ms. Uche Nwadialo from acting in her stead, the plaintiff also prayed for “AN ORDER OF INTERIM INJUNCTION pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice restraining the 2nd to 11th Respondents, either by themselves, their servants, privies, officers, agents, cronies or howsoever from further harassing, threatening, intimidating, assaulting and/or attacking the Plaintiff/Applicant for any reason whatsoever.”
She also prayed for police protection should the court grant the injunction, urging the court to grant “AN ORDER directing the 12th Defendant/Respondent (Inspector General of Police), and/or other officers under his Command and/or the Commissioner of Police, and all other officers as the Commissioner of Police may designate and Court Bailiffs to assist the Plaintiff/Applicant in the discharge of her duties as the General Secretary of the 1st Defendant/Respondent together with all other rights of whatever kind deriving from or incidental to any of the foregoing orders and also in execution of the orders herein made.”