NBA Owerri Election: Court Orders Substituted Service On Incorporated Trustees, 1st Vice, Election Committee, Branch Chair And Others
Posted: 25/Jun/2020

The High Court sitting in Owerri, Imo State, has ordered substituted service on the Incorporated Trustees of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA 1st Vice President, Stanley C. Imo, purporting  to be Election Committee Chairman, Chief H. N. Duruoha, And Secretary,  Ishmael Nkwocha. The branch Chairman, Damian O. Nosike,  Secretary  J.S. C. Osuebi and Financial Secretary, Kingsley Ehujuo. Others are the Chairmanship Aspirants, I. F. Akponye, J. I. Ogamba and Ifeoma Ihesie.The court presided over by Justice E.F Njemanze gave the order in the SUIT NO: HOW/366/2020, filed by Chima  Emegwara , Timothy Nonso Ogujiofor, C. A. N. Osondu and Nnamdi Odoro, against the defendants, challenging the setting up of Election Committee for the conduct of the 2020 NBA Owerri Branch Elections.

The plaintiffs sought the following reliefs

A DECLARATION that the purported setting up of an Election Committee for the conduct of NBA Owerri Branch Elections for 2020 by the Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA Owerri Branch is a nullity and of no effect whatsoever for being in breach of the clear and express provisions of the Uniform Bye Law that regulate the conduct of Branch Elections.

A DECLARATION that the purported setting up of Election Committee for the conduct of the 2020 NBA Owerri Branch Elections as constituted by and with persons with interests relating to the election is a nullity for being in breach of the rules of natural justice and in violation of the Uniform Bye Law of the Nigerian Bar Association.

A DECLARATION that all the actions of the purported NBA Owerri Branch Election Committee including the compilation of the Voters Register that disenfranchised over 80% of members of the NBA Owerri Branch and disqualified them  from voting at the election is a nullity and of no effect whatsoever.

A DECLARATION that the failure of the Executives of the NBA Owerri Branch to call for and hold any form of General Meeting of Owerri Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association while still proceeding with plans to conduct election that will replace them has rendered all their actions relating to the said election process a nullity.

AN ORDER setting aside as null and void the constitution and purported setting up of the Election Committee for the conduct of NBA Owerri Branch Election and all the arrangements, process, planning, engagements and all actions carried out and being carried out towards the conduct of NBA Owerri Branch 2020 Election.

AN ORDER setting aside for being a nullity and of no effect whatsoever the decision for the conduct of election and the carrying out of any election of Nigerian Bar Association, Owerri Branch scheduled for the 27th of June, 2020 or the month of June, 2020; or any other date for the Owerri Branch, Nigerian Bar Association without a properly constituted Committee of the Branch conducting the election.

AN ORDER restraining the Defendants from swearing in or inaugurating  any person as Chairman of Owerri Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association without a properly constituted Election body who can only commence duties upon proper inauguration and swearing in before the members of the Owerri Branch NBA and not retrospectively.

AN ORDER restraining the purported Election Committee as led by the 3rd Defendant, from carrying on, performing any function or conducting election into any executive office of the Owerri Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association.

AN ORDER disqualifying the 3rd Defendant from being a member or Chairman of the Election Committee and from playing any role at all or whatsoever for the conduct of election for the new executives of the Owerri Branch of the NBA due to conflict of interest.

AN ORDER restraining the 5th and 6th Defendants as representing the Executives of the Owerri Branch or any person/member from presenting the purported Election Committee 3rd and 4th Defendants in any Annual General Meeting for ratification of their purported appointment for the sole purpose of allowing them conduct election on the same day for the offices of new Executives of the Owerri Branch of NBA.

AN ORDER restraining the 1st Defendant, by its National Executive Committee, officers, members, Committee(s), Forum/Fora, Section(s) or any of its organs or branches from regarding, holding, according or in any manner at all attending to, having regard to or giving effect to any election conducted by the 3rd and 4th Defendants into the Branch Executives of the Owerri Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association.

AN ORDER setting aside as null and void the actions and publications made by the 3rd and 4th Defendants on behalf of the purported Election Committee, or any person at all, at any time, disqualifying members of the Branch from voting at the Owerri Branch of the NBA 2020 election in view of the peculiar circumstances of the time, the Branch and the operations of force majeure.

AN ORDER holding that no member of the Owerri Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association is to be disqualified and/or should be disqualified to vote at the forthcoming Branch elections on the grounds of non payment of the Welfare Levy or meeting attendance in view of the existing Owerri Branch precedence for voting at elections, the Branch peculiarities, force majeure and the provisions of the law.

At the preliminary hearing of the suit, Justice E.F Njemanze granted the exparte motion for substituted service

The court held:

“That this mode of service upon been effected shall be deemed good and proper service on the Defendants for the purpose of this action.

“In respect of prayer 3and 4 of the application,  it is ordered  that the parties in this suit, their agents, and servants or any person or persons claiming through  or under to maintain status quo pending the determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction dated11th day of June, 2020 and fed on the 16th June 2020.”

The matter was adjourned to 29th June for hearing.