A Lagos State High Court, sitting in Lagos, has restrained former President and Member, Board of Trustees of the Balogun Business Association, (BBA) Chief Okey Ezeibe, from forcefully taking over the Secretariat, Assets, Funds and properties belonging to the traders Association.
Others who were restrained and sued along side Chief Ezeibe as defendants, are Chief Alex Obi – Odunukwe, Chief Ifeanyi Okwuma, Chief Ikechukwu Obiora, Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, ACP Halilu, Area Commander, Area ‘E’, Command, FESTAC, CSP Tolani, Divisional Police Officer, DPO, Trade Fair Complex, Lagos.
The decision of the Court is coming on the heels of last Monday’s alleged purported botched Police invasion and attempted move to foist an illegal leadership on the traders, by Chief Ezeibe, who was said to have employed the help of Police operatives from Area ‘E’ Command, FESTAC, led by a Superintendent of Police, SP (Names withheld) and the Operations Officer, OPS.
While delivering his ruling on the Enrolment of Order, in the suit dated Monday, 5th July, 2021, delineated as SUIT NO: ID/4749GCM/2021, the presiding Judge, Honourable Justice A.M Lawal, made the Order after hearing the Application of Barristers Ken .I. Ugwu and C. A. Obianika, Counsels for the traders, represented by the Incorporated Trustees of Balogun Business Association, (BBA) and six (6) other persons.
He said: “I have considered the application in its entirety, paragraph 24 of the affidavit in support, states that the defendants (Chief Okechukwu Ezeibe and six others) planned to take over ‘viet armis’ the secretariat of Balogun Business Association, which may lead to a breakdown of law and order”
“In order to avert this ugly situation, the interest of Justice demands a grant of some preemptive succours to the Claimant pending when they will comply with the requirements of the pre- election protocol”
The court stated that “The defendants (Chief Okechukwu Ezeibe and six others) are accordingly restrained as sought in the interim, pending the Claimants compliance with the pre- election”.
Justice Lawal also ordered that “the defendants (Chief Okechukwu Ezeibe and six others) are restrained from taking over or attempting to take over the secretariat, assets, funds and properties of the first Claimant (BBA), including her international centre for commerce, trade fair Complex”
He further gave a legal backing to the administration and control by BBA Care Taker Committee, CTC, led by Honourable Anselem Duru, by ruling that “the second claimant shall maintain and control the management of the affairs, assets and funds of the First Claimant, including her international centre of commerce, trade fair Complex, pending the Claimants compliance with the pre-action protocol formalities.”
On how Chief Ezeibe and his group would be notified of the court order which was counter signed by the Court Registrar, Mr. B. Y. Sadiku, the Judge granted leave to the Trustee and six others, permitting them to serve the order of the court on the defendants together with the pre – action protocol documents through the sheriffs of this court.
It would be recalled that Vanguard Newspaper had in their breaking news reported sporadic shootings in the market on Monday, which was allegedly occasioned by a botched attempt to take over the traders secretariat and foist an illegal leadership.
Confirming the incident in his office yesterday, the Chief Security Officer, CSO, Spy Deputy Superintendent Of Police, DSP Celestine Emechebe, who denied granting interview to Vanguard Newspaper as quoted in their publication, stated that about 100 police officers from Area ‘E’, in a convoy of Operational Vehicles, had stormed their market on Monday and drove down to their secretariat without booking their arrival at his security post.
According to him, the ulterior motives and mission of the police Operatives from Area ‘E’ Command were thwarted by the agile and eagle eyed police Operatives from the Force Criminal Investigation Department, FCID, Annex, Alagbon, led by an Assistant Superintendent of Police ASP Adeoye Callistus, who confronted them and refused to allow them achieve their aims and objectives of storming the market.
The CSO also said that his men over heard the Area ‘E’ officers, when they told the FCID Operatives, who had been on ground to ensure peace, law and order, that they came from Lagos Commissioner of Police, to install a new Leadership in the Market.
Collaborating the CSO’s account of the incident, the former Treasurer and frontrunner Presidential Aspirant in the Forthcoming Elections in the market, High Chief (Dr.) John Ezeakor, popularly called ‘Ojiji’, pointed accusing fingers at Chief Ezeibe and his opposition camp for plotting the botched plan to foist an illegal leadership on the traders.
In his words, “Enough is enough for this hooligalism and thuggery which Chief Ezeibe and his co- travellers have continued to unleash on genuine traders in our market continually. How can people who have no stake in the market, have no shops and businesses, would alway want to cause mayhem. Market is not owned by an individual and come to think that Ezeibe who is a car seller outside our market, conducted an illegal kangaroo election in a hotel and now wants to use policemen to dethrone a legitimate Care taker committee, this is rascality taken too far. He disobeys Court Orders at will and Government appears to overlook these conduct breaching public peace. This Market is not the birth right of Ezeibe or Anambra State Traders alone. Other States like Enugu my State, should be allowed to lead”
The Out going President, Chief Tony Obih, had carpeted the purported elections, stated that it was illegal, null and void, as the life span of the legal Caretaker Committee was still subsisting until June 31, pending BBA’s legally planned elections in July, 2021.
This is even as a Federal High Court sitting before Justice I.E. Ekwo in Abuja, the federal capital territory, was said to have barred the Corporate Affairs Commission CAC from expunging the names of the Incorporated Trustees of Balogun Business Association, Chiefs Tony Obih, Jonathan Okpala, Balogun John Ezeako, Nicholas Okeke and Hon. (Chief) Anslem Dunu, Business; all registered trustees of BBA.
The court also barred the factional group led by one Chief Okey Ezeibe from conducting any election into elective positions in defiance to the existing Caretaker Committee and or disregarding the committee in the discharge of it’s statutory functions pending such time when the atmosphere was clear for the conduct of election by the caretaker committee.
The order of the court followed an action brought to it by Barrister John Duru, Counsel to the Applicants in Suit N0 FHC/ABJ/CS/451/2021 praying the court for an order of perpetual injunction (certoriari) barring the CAC from taking such action of expunging their names from the certificate of incorporation.
In a motion experte, the court, granted the leave of the Applicants stopping the CAC hereinafter referred to as Respondent from carrying out the action including further interference in the affairs of the BBA.
Meanwhile, Police Department at the Force Criminal Investigation Department, Alagbon, Lagos, had wielded into the crisis that has bedeviled the hitherto peaceful Market.
It was learnt that a Private Detective (names withheld), took the initiative to petition the Police Authorities, to avert imminent threat to peace and possible break down of law and order in the market.
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