The Nigerian Bar Association has asked the Lagos High Court to dismiss the suit brought by controversial former NBA Ikeja Branch Chairman, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana seeking to restore his as a candidate for the forthcoming NBA Elections.
Court papers show that the NBA is being represented by high-profile lawyer, Dr. Paul Ananaba SAN, even as it is in the alternative praying the court to strike out the application.
The Notice of Preliminary Objection is brought 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.
Ogunlana had filed a Motion on Notice dated July 18, 2020 asking the court 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.
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).
But the NBA is through its Trustees praying the court not to grant the order, warning that it would “cause anarchy and division within the Nigerian Bar Association.” Instead, it is praying for “An order dismissing this action for lack of jurisdiction or in the alternative,” “An order striking out this action for lack of jurisdiction.”
Dated 23rd July, 2020 the grounds for the application are that “the applicant has failed to comply with due process of law,” “The Honourable Court lacks jurisdiction to determine this suit,” “This application is aimed at truncating the Nigerian Bar Association Election slated for the 29th and 30th of July, 2020” and “This application amounts to forum shopping which is an abuse of court process.”
The application is supported by a 4-paragraph affidavit deposed by one Gbenga Ayorinde, a litigation officer in the 1st Respondent’s counsel’s chambers.
The deponent averred inter alia “That the Applicant stated clearly in his Affidavit that he did not submit Letter of good standing as provided by the Nigerian Bar Association Electoral Law and Rules,” adding that “The duties of the 1st Respondent is to ensure Electoral laws and Rules are complied with.
He stated that “the first Respondent has done nothing wrong” and “That the Applicant has not instituted any substantive suit in this matter.” The deponent also stated that aside from the application amounting to forum shopping, “granting this (application) will cause anarchy and division within the Nigerian Bar Association.” According to him, “the court does not have jurisdiction to interfere in internal affairs of Nigerian Bar Association.”
It is recalled that Ogunlana had dragged the NBA and its electoral committee to the High Court of Lagos State sitting at Ikeja, praying for several orders.
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.”