BY EMEKA NWADIOKE
Former Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana has vowed to go ahead with a lawsuit to determine his eligibility for the forthcoming NBA National Election, saying today’s ruling by a Lagos High Court sitting at Ikeja did not tamper with his right to institute the substantive action.
Though Ogunlana’s telephone numbers were switched off when CITY LAWYER attempted to contact him, his close aide and RAMINBA Secretary, Mr. Ayo Ademiluyi, said there is “serious misconception” regarding the court ruling, adding that “our main claim is very much alive.”
He said that the movement will proceed to conclude the Pre Action protocols within the next seven days before filing the substantive suit “to determine whether Mr. Ogunlana was validly excluded from the race and whether any NBA Chairman can on his own issue a Letter of Good Standing or refuse same as he wills.”
It is recalled that the court had dismissed Ogunlana’s application asking it to set aside his disqualification by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) or restrain the defendants from conducting the NBA Elections without his inclusion in the race. The electoral body had disqualified the former branch chieftain on the ground that his nomination forms did not include a “Letter of Good Standing” from his branch chairman.
But the Nigerian Bar Association asked the court to dismiss the suit. Represented by high-profile lawyer, Dr. Paul Ananaba SAN, the NBA brought a Notice of Preliminary Objection pursuant to Order 43 (Rule 1) of the Civil Procedure Rules 2019 of the High Court of Lagos State and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court. The motion was served on the Lead Counsel for Ogunlana, Mr. Dare Akande at exactly 6:12 pm yesterday. The matter is slated for hearing today before Justice Adedayo Oyebanji.
The Respondents are Incorporated Trustees of Nigeria Bar Association; Mr. Paul Usoro SAN (President of the Nigerian Bar Association); Mr. Jonathan Taidi (General Secretary, Nigeria Bar Association); and Professor (sic) Tawo Tawo SAN, Chairman, Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association. Others are ECNBA Secretary, Cordelia Eke, Esq. and Dele Oloke, Esq (immediate past chairman of Ikeja Branch of Nigerian Bar Association).
Marked as Suit No. ID/4015GCM/2020, Ogunlana is praying for “An interlocutory order of this honourable court directing and compelling the Defendants, to include the name of the Claimant/Applicant in the list of candidates to contest for the Office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association in the 2020 National Officers’ Elections and allowing same to contest pending the determination of the Motion on Notice in this matter.”
In the alternative, the disqualified NBA presidential aspirant is seeking “AN ORDER of injunction restraining the Defendants from conducting elections into the office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, without including the name of the Claimant as a candidate on the 29th and 30th July, 2020 or on any other date pending the determination of the Motion on Notice in the matter.”
Filed on July 9, 2020 Ogunlana revealed in a broadcast on his verified Facebook handle that the matter has been assigned to Justice Adedayo Oyebanji of Ikeja High Court, adding that the court has penciled down the case for hearing “due to its urgent nature.” He reassured his supporters to “keep hope alive,” adding that though the election has been scheduled for 29th and 30th July, 2020, “nothing is sacrosanct.”
Ogunlana listed four grounds to justify his lawsuit, stating that
(i) The 4th and 5th Defendants/respondents’ electoral body, the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) claimed to have disqualified the claimant contesting the election because his Nomination Forms did not include a letter of Good Standing from the 6th defendant, the then Chairman of his branch, the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association as required by the constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association.
(ii) The claimant brought an Appeal based on the objection raised by the 4th and 5th Defendants as stated earlier above in paragraph 1 but his appeal was dismissed based on a completely different issue, and which is applicable to the appeal or case of the claimant.
(iii) The ground of dismissing the Appeal founded in section 8(3)(c) of the NBA Constitution 2015(as amended) vis-a-vis the issue raised and the absence of any evidence to show that the report of the insurance committee if Ikeja Branch of NBA has been set aside “is disjointed from the ground of Appeal itself, which is based on the Appeal against disqualification for absence of letter of Good Standing in the Nomination packet of the Claimant/Applicant.
(iv) The Claimant /Applicant will suffer irreparable loss if this honourable court declines the order sought.”
It is recalled that Ogunlana has had a cat-and-mouse relationship with the electoral body following his initial disqualification from the presidential race. Though he appealed the disqualification, claiming that Oloke lacked the power to withhold his “Letter of Good Standing,” the ECNBA dismissed his appeal as lacking in merit.