By DAPO OLAWUNI
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has sacked Chairman of Muritala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA) chapter of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Bamgbala Adewusi, even as it declared Prince Bola Ashiru as the authentic Chairman of the chapter.
The court judgement, a copy of which was obtained by DAILY TREND was delivered by Hon Justice P.O Lifu on 5th of May 2023.
The case with suit number; FHC/L/CS/758/2022 was between Bola Ashiru Balogun and his company; Sotofopy Nigeria Limited as the plaintiff, and the Board of Trustees of ANLCA, Mr Aloy Anokuru for himself and other members of ASECO as 1st and 2nd defendants, while Bamgbala Adewusi and his company; Batolab Investment Nigeria Limited was the 3rd and 4th defendants.
Justice Lifu in his judgement ruled that the ANLCA Chairman, Adewusi had been disqualified and ineligible to contest the January 15th 2022 election organized by the board or trustees had no locus to so contest the election.
As a result, the Judge said his declaration as the winner of the said election is hereby nullified and therefore void and of no effect.
Justice Lifu also ruled that the certificate of return so issued to Bamgbala Adewusi is hereby revoked forthwith and same should be returned to the ANLCA Board.
Other parts of the judgement states that “By election result sheet exhibited to the 1st and 2nd Defendants Counter Affidavit to the Originating Summons, the 2nd highest candidate which is the Plaintiff is hereby declared the winner of the January 15th 2022 election and should be issued certificate of return forthwith.
“I award a cost of Five Hundred Thousand Naira (500,000.00) against the Defendants jointly and severally but in favour of the Plaintiff” the Judge said.
During the court process, the Plaintiff, Bola Ashiru claims are that the 3rd Defendant, Bamgbala Adewusi who was not qualified to participate in an election was declared a winner of the January 15th 2022 election.
Part of the court judgement reads:
“We have waived other disqualification hurdles for this candidate and cannot help to mitigate further, otherwise this serious breach, it will be indefensible before court of law or in public court hence we stand with our earlier disquatification thus void his candidacy”.
“That was the verdict of ASECO Chairman, who are responsible for screening and conduction of election in the association. The above statement was a reaction for further waiver on the 3rd and 4th Defendants ineligibility.
“The last paragraph of exhibit 6 also states the following in a letter
to the 3rd and 4th Defendants on 14th July, 2021 by 1st Defendant
Electoral Commission (ASECO).
“Ashov Nigeria Limited who is manifestly incapable of sponsoring any member of the association due to his non certificate for business with the MMI Airport custom command as the sponsor is incapacitated having not being a legal tender in MM1 Chapter of the custom command from 2019 till
date and have failed to produce anything contrary to – invalidate your disqualification. Please see Section 4 (b) of our constitution.
“TAKE Further Notice that the early approval granted the said Prince Bamgbala Abayomi Adejare Adewusi of Ashov Nig. Ltd to me for the elective position of the Chairman of MM1 Airport Chapter was made in error and hereby revoked upon revelation of the incapacity of your sponsor (Ashov Nig Ltd.) in line with Section 22 (2) (1) of the Supreme Constitution of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents and ASECO guidelines. Please see miscellaneous clause”
“These two (2) exhibits were said to be forged. There is no evidence adduced by the Defendant to substantiate that allegation. Even if that was so, it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt as required by law since it is a criminal allegation. The Defendant, who alleged so, has not deemed it fit to prove any of the elements of forgery.
“Aside, the Plaintiffs, on the 19th of January, 2022 wrote a protest letter through his solicitor challenging the outcome and process of an election and also protesting that the said 3rd Defendant should not be sworn in but the said protest letter exhibited as Exhibit 9 was ignored.
“Having gone through the Defendant’s constitution, there is no provisions for replacement of candidate or sponsors after screening have been done and concluded. Moreover, the request for replacement dated 6thof July, 2021 by the 3rd and 4th Defendant was captured and overtaken by the letter of 12th and 14th of July, 2021 wherein the disqualification of the 3rd and 4th Defendants were reiterated by the electoral Commission of the 1st Defendant
“Furthermore, the final list of contestant exhibited by the 3rd and 4rd Defendants as exhibits dated 14th April, 2021 pre dates the disqualification letters of 12th and 14th July, 2021 which re-emphasises the fact that the 3rd and 4th Defendants were disqualified and found ineligible to contest the January 15th Election by the Commission.
“By the composite reading and comprehension of Section22 (d) of the 1st Defendant Supreme constitution, article 3 of the ASECO guideline for the conduct of January 15th 2022 Elections, presented by parties before the Court, it is the Court firm view that the 1st and 2nd issues or questions distilled for the Court determination by the-Plaintiffs in the instant Suit are answered in the negative.
Consequently, the claim of the Plaintiffs succeeds as follows:
“(1) The 3rd Defendant having been disqualified and ineligible to contest the January 15th 2022 election organised by the 1st Plaintiff, had no locus to so contest the election. As a result his declaration as the winner of the said election is hereby nullified and therefore void and of no effect.
“(2) The certificate of return so issued to the 3rd Defendant is hereby revoked forthwith and same should be returned by the 3rd Defendant to the 1st Defendant.
“(3) By election result sheet exhibited to the 1st and 2nd Defendants Counter Affidavit to the Originating Summons, the 2nd highest candidate which is the Plaintiff is hereby declared the winner of the January 15th 2022 election and should be issued certificate of return forthwith.
“(4) I award a cost of Five Hundred Thousand Naira (500,000.00) against the Defendants jointly and severally but in favour of the Plaintiff.