Breakdown Of Law And Order Feared At Lagos Trade Fair Complex Over Leadership Tussle

By Frank Oshanugor

Possible breakdown of law and order may occur today Monday July 4, 2022 at the Balogun Business Association (BBA)  market at the International Trade Fair Complex, Ojo, along the Lagos/Badagry Expressway, Lagos, as some breakaway members of the Association led by one Chief Oscar Odogwu and one Chief Okey  Ezeibe embark on purported enforcement of a dubious and very questionable court order.

The attempt which is considered dangerous is ostensibly intended to foist an unknown and unrecognized members of the Association on the teeming
traders in the market in contravention of subsisting orders and decisions of the Federal High Court.

AtlanticNewsonline Sources said the new phase of the crisis that had been rocking the market association started after Chief Okey Ezeibe allegedly took some loyalists of the association to an obscure area outside the market to conduct a kangaroo election in which unpopular and unrecognized
persons, including Chief Oscar Odogwu,were purportedly elected as leaders of the association to the chagrin of other members who felt the reign of Chief Ezeibe had lapsed and therefore, conducting an election outside the market runs contrary to the constitution of the association. 

This illegal election was purportedly conducted notwithstanding that the Federal High Court, Abuja, had ordered that such action should not be taken in its decision in July last year, 2021,in a lawsuit Suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/451/2021.

Sources in the market said the reason Chief Okey Ezeibe is embarking on what the bulk of members of the Association consider an illegal and extremely dangerous adventure is to perpetuate himself as a life Trustee of the association as well as continue to have access to the finances of the association the way he used to when he served as President of the association.

Sources in the market further informed that Chief Okey Ezeibe had earlier approached the Corporate Affairs Commission CAC, to alter the order of things with regards to the Board of Trustees. He was said to have attempted to entrench himself as a life Chairman of Board of Trustees but the hasty and untidy revocation of the Certificate of Registration of the association by the CAC resulted in a legal action by the association and its incumbent management resulting in an order by the Federal High Court, Abuja which intervened,stayed the action of the Commission and sustained the incumbent management of the association in office pending determination of that Suit No.FHC/ABJ/451/202.

It was reliably gathered that when Chief Okey Ezeibe noticed that he was going to face a stiff resistance from the
association and its incumbent management, he resorted to using the Nigeria Police Force to have his way. But again the association and its incumbent management filed another lawsuit against the Police in Suit No.FHC/ABJ/579/2021 in which Chief Ezeibe and others are now also Defendants.

The Federal High Court on the 23rd of July,2021 ruled in Suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/579/2021 that the illegal election conducted by Chief Ezeibe cannot stand. On the 27th of September, 2021 the Federal High Court further made an order in Suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/579/2021 directing the Police to ensure that nothing is done to tamper with or interfere in the subject matter of the suit.

These decisions of the Federal High Court in Suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/451/2021 and Suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/579/2021,from investigations conducted by AtlanticNewsonline are still subsisting up till the time of this report.

Chief Oscar Odogwu and Chief Okey Ezeibe and their small band of followers reportedly approached the sitting Commissioner of Police CP Sylvester Abiodun Alabi who may have ample knowledge of the goings on in the market, cajoled him to direct the Area ’E’ Commander to give them enough Policemen to enforce the illegal election, but the Chief Anselm Dunu-led legally constituted Caretaker Committee,with the support of the vast majority of the membership of the association has been engaging with the Nigeria Police Force until the recent developments of the rumoured plans by the Police to invade the market in the early morning hours of today and forcibly seize the market and the Secretariat of the association and illegally install Chief Oscar Odogwu and his cohorts in office.

They are reported to be relying on a ruling of the Lagos State High Court of the 5th of May,2022 in Suit No.LD/3175LM/2021 which ruled on legal representation of the Association and in which the Lagos State High Court presided by Honourable Justice Ogunjobi is reported to have sat on appeal over the earlier decisions of the Federal High Court in Suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/451/2021 and Suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/579/2021 and purportedly set these decisions of the Federal High Court aside despite that the Federal High Court is a court of coordinate jurisdiction with the Lagos State High Court.

But this ruling of the Lagos State High Court is already a subject matter of an appeal by the association to the Court of Appeal entered at the Court of Appeal,Lagos, as APPEAL No.CA/LAG/CV/473/2022 since 27th May,2022.

The association also filed a Motion for Stay of Execution of that ruling of the Lagos State High Court and our investigations confirm that both the Deputy Sheriff of the High Court of Lagos State,the Inspector-General of Police,the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 2 Command,Lagos,and the Commissioner of Police of the Lagos State Command as well as the lawyer for Chief Ezeibe and Chief Oscar Odogwu and their band of followers were served with the motion for stay of execution.

It is therefore surprising and a matter of serious concern that the Nigeria Police Force through its Area E Command seems set,from reports,to forcibly invade the BBA market in the very early morning hours of today to seize control of the market and the Secretariat of the Association and forcibly install Chief Oscar Odogwu,Chief Okey Ezeibe and their cohorts as purportedly elected officers of the association in what appears to be a brazen defiance of the judiciary in Nigeria and contravention of subsisting orders and decisions of the Federal High Court and nowithstanding the real likelihood of a bloodbath,monumental breakdown of law and order in the market arising from such reckless, dangerous and illegal action by the Police.

Chief Anselm Dunu,the incumbent Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the association has assured that the association and its incumbent management led by him has repeatedly extended a hand of fellowship to Chief Okey Ezeibe and Chief Oscar Odogwu,calling them to join hands with the rest of the association to move the association forward and conduct credible election of new officers.

The association,he said,calls on the Area Commander of Area E Command to steer clear and not interfere with ongoing judicial proceedings at the Federal High Court, Abuja, and at the Court of Appeal, particularly the appeal at the Court of Appeal against the Ruling of Justice Ogunjobi of the Lagos State High Court of 5th May,2022 and the pending motion for stay of execution pending determination of the appeal, stay of proceedings in the suit pending determination of the appeal, and injunction pending determination of the appeal.

The Area Commander, the association admonished, should not allow himself to be deceived and misled by outlaws who have no respect for the Courts of Law and the Rule of Law. The operation the Area Commander wants to carry out is patently illegal,the association warned, and the Area Commander should cease and desist from the brazen illegality he is attempting to foist on the association. The way forward,the association insisted, is for the Area Commander to respect the subsisting decision of the Federal High Court in the ongoing judicial proceedings in Suits at the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal.

Written by: Frank Oshanugor

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