Gadzama V Mahmoud: Suit Adjourned Again

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An FCT High Court today failed to hear applications filed by parties in the suit brought by former Nigerian Bar Association presidential candidate, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN). The matter has now been adjourned to November 8, 2016. The impasse has stalled hearing of a motion by Gadzama seeking to remove Mahmoud as the NBA president.

Though the court had at the last adjourned date slated today to determine the non-contentions applications, parties were told that the court could not sit as the judges were still on prison visits. The contentious matters were then scheduled for November 1, 2016.

It is recalled that when the matter came up at the last adjourned date, the presiding judge, Justice Yusuf Halilu was said to have equally gone on a prison visit with his colleagues.

It was gathered at the weekend that there has been a flurry of applications by parties in the suit.

The defendants are the NBA trustees including Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim (SAN) CON, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) OFR, Chief Thompson Joseph Onomigbo Okpoko (SAN) OON, Chief (Mrs) Priscilla Kuye, Alhaji Murtala Aminu OFR and Chief Anthony O. Mogboh (SAN). They are listed as 1st to 6th Defendants while The Incorporated Trustees of Nigerian Bar Association is the 7th Defendant. Mr. Kenneth Mozia (SAN), Chairman of the ECNBA is the 8th Defendant while Mr. Oluwaseun Ajoba who doubles as the Secretary of the committee is the 9th Defendant.

Others are Hajia Safiya Balarabe, Mrs. Amaka Ezeno, and Mrs. Eucharia Pepple – all members of the Electoral Committee – as 10th, 11th and 12th Defendants while NBA’s ICT Partner, Grace Infotech Limited (Law Pavilion) is the 13th Defendant. Mr. Augustine O. Alegeh (SAN), the immediate past NBA President, is sued as the 14th defendant while Mr. Abubakar B. Mahmoud (SAN), Gadzama’s opponent who was declared winner of the election, is listed as the 15th Defendant.

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Aside from the 1st to 6th Defendants’ motion to strike out the suit, the 8th to 12th Defendants also filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection to the suit. On its path, the 13th Defendant has filed a motion of preliminary objection while the 15th Defendant is asking the court to strike out the suit “for lack of jurisdiction.” It was unclear at press time whether Alegeh has filed any process in the matter.

The 8th to 12th Defendants have also asked the court to disregard Gadzama’s motion seeking to nullify the swearing-in of Mahmoud as NBA President. In their counter-affidavit and written address in opposition to the Gadzama’s motion on notice filed on 7th September, 2016 the defendants argued that the challenge to the court’s jurisdiction has tied the hands of the court in granting the reliefs sought by the plaintiff, contending that the 1st Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association cannot be directed or compelled to take over and perform the functions and duties of the NBA President since he is not a party in the suit.

Gadzama had filed a motion on 7th September, 2016 asking the court to grant him judgement, alleging that the defendants failed to file their defence within the time set out by the Rules, a position countered by the 1st to 6th Defendants on the grounds that time does not run during vacation period and that the defendants have a pending motion challenging the jurisdiction of the Court which must be resolved before the plaintiff’s motion for default judgement could be heard.

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Mahmoud was declared winner of the election with total 3055 votes while Gadzama polled 2384 votes. But Gadzama said in his statement of claim that “contrary to the result declared by the 8th Defendant, at the close of voting, at 12:00 midnight on Sunday, 31st July, 2016, the result of the 2016 Nigerian Bar Association Election as it relates to the office/position of the President, as collated from and contained on the official voting domain/platform was as follows: Joe-Kyari Gadzama – 2,963; Abubakar B. Mahmoud -2,465.” This was as deduced by his ICT experts who conducted forensic audit of the poll.

But Mahmoud has asked the court to strike out the suit brought by Gadzama. In an application brought under Order 7 Rules 1, 2(1) and (3) of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (Civil Procedure) Rules 2004; Section 16 of the NBA Constitution 2015 and Section 6(6)(a) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999, Mahmoud is seeking “an order striking out this suit for lack of jurisdiction.”

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