A Federal High Court sitting in Enugu has dismissed a suit seeking to set aside the election of University of Nigeria Alumni Association (UNAA) National Executive Officers led by Sir Ben Okoronkwo conducted under the supervision of the University Governing Council on October 3rd 2020.
Chief (Mrs) Grace Ukeje and two others had in Suit No.FHC/EN/CS/92/2020 dragged the University of Nigeria Vice Chancellor, Chairman of UNN Governing Council, Chief Michael Olorufemi, Sir Ben Okoronkwo & 2 others including the Hon. Minister of Education before the Federal High Court, Enugu.
Chief Ukeje and her group had sued asking the Court to nullify the UNAA election of October 2020 of the incumbent executive members led by Mr Okoronkwo as President.
The Plaintiffs contended that relying on the 2005 UNAA Constitution, the Law establishing UNN, and UNAA Constitution didn’t give UNN Governing Council authority to conduct election for the UNAA.
But Dr M. Ajogwu, SAN for UNN, argued that the case cannot be decided by Originating Motion. Chris Ajugwe, Esq, National Legal Adviser of UNAA and Counsel for the 4th Defendant, Ben Okoronkwo, allied himself with the SAN’s submission.
He argued that the affidavits of the parties are contradictory and defective and therefore a hostile suit which by plethora of Supreme Court of Nigeria authorities ought to be heard by pleadings, not by motion.
Ajugwe further contended that since the Plaintiffs had agreed that the extant, operating Constitution of UNAA is that of 2014, not that of 2005, though claiming they are similar in the matter at stake, the suit is fundamentally and structurally defective, as the substratum on which the Plaintiffs suit is based has totally collapsed.
He equally raised others cogent and varied legal objections on which he urged the Court to dismiss the suit in its entirety, as lacking on merit with punitive costs against the plaintiffs.
In reply, Bar. Okey Obikeze, Counsel to the Plaintiffs argued that both the 2005 and 2014 are substantially similar, that defendant raised new issues for determination instead of addressing his.
He prayed the Court to grant his prayers, dissolve the current UNAA Exco and appoint the 6th Defendant ( ie Dr Nduka Eya, representing Council of Past National Presidents, CPNP) as interim Government to manage the affairs of the Association.
In his judgment, Hon. Justice M.I. Buba, held that it would not engage in academic exercise in futility fishing out where the two Constitutions were similar and where they were not. Justice Buba upheld the contention of Ajugwe, that the suit is replete with fundamental vices, and incompetent.
He therefore dismissed the suit holding that the suit was full of “fundamental viruses” and asked the plaintiffs to pay N250, 000 cost to each of the defendants.