The ruling of court setting aside the ratification of the suspension of Mrs. Joyce Oduah as General Secretary by the Nigerian Bar Association National Executive Committee (NBA-NEC) is currently generating disagreement between the NBA and Mrs Oduah
While the Lead Counsel to Oduah, Mr. Muritala Abdul-rasheed SAN said 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.
At the resumed hearing today, the Motion on Notice to set aside the suspension by the National Officers was not heard as the third to 13th defendants had not been served. The court granted an order to serve the defendants by substituted means.
However, counsel to the embattled General Secretary, informed the court that while the matter was subjudice, the NBA-NEC proceeded to ratify Oduah’s suspension. It was 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 to City Lawyer on the import of today’s ruling, Abdul-rasheed stated 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?”
Recall 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.