The leadership of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has appealed the ruling of the Lagos State High Court, Badagry Division where it assumed jurisdiction to entertain the matter brought before it by some suspended members of the association.
The National Secretary of ANLCA, Alhaji Abdullahi Babatunde Mukaila who disclosed this in a chat with Primetime Reporters in Lagos on Tuesday said that the association had equally filed an appeal requesting the Judge to recuse himself from the matter and transfer it to Ikeja adding that the Judge had by his ruling so far showed some elements of bias in the matter.
Mukaila stated that although the Judge was yet to go into the substantive matter before the court, he had while assuming jurisdiction over the matter ruled that the elections conducted by a faction of the Board of Trustees (BOT) stands but postponed ruling on the arbitration clause in the ANLCA constitution as a pre-condition for any adjudication of issues concerning members of the association to October.
According to him,” There is a case at Badagry where the association was dragged to a Badagry court after a similar case with the same similar prayer was thrown out technically at the Federal High Court and then our position at the Badagry High Court is that Lagos State High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain that case. Two, that it will amount to duplication of cases because the prayer, the same point the man at Badagry is trying to make, that he has conducted an election, that the other seven people that took form from him who happened not to get the knowledge that something was going to happen at the Villa Park Garden should not be allowed to do any further election.
“In the wisdom of the learned judge, he claimed that one, he has jurisdiction, two, that he believed election was conducted but finally, we rest our case on the fact that whoever approached the court without writing a letter for arbitration, that Clause 26 is a pre-condition of anyone’s membership. Once you claim anywhere that you are a member of ANLCA, it then means that you accepted that you will not settle your case in court without arbitration. So, we told the Judge that the fact that these people approached you without exhausting this Clause, you shouldn’t even listen to it. The Judge in his own wisdom, drive this way and that way, when it gets to arbitration, he said he is adjourning till October.
“So, if you now say you are adjourning till October and yet you are dabbling into the matter, the fundamental of the case really is that you shouldn’t even listen to it because this person breached his oath of membership for coming before you which the man at the Federal High Court relied upon and said, ‘Sorry, I wouldn’t have granted this injunction if I had seen this clause. Now, that I am aware of it, go back to your association and start with arbitration. When you are done with arbitration and you are not satisfied, then you can come back.’
“Now, immediately we got that, we filed an appeal within the stipulated time telling the Judge that for the fact that you did not treat that arbitration clause, we are not accepting your position. Therefore we want the case taken out of your hand so that by October when we are resuming, this case should be transferred to Ikeja. That was done within the time limit. “
When asked if the appeal was for the Judge to recuse himself from the matter or on the ruling made so far by the Judge, he said,” We have appealed both ways and we want the case taken out of his hand because we are not Judge but we believe that the ruling he has done, let me tell you, what happened was that his ruling was against the preliminary objection not to hear the case, not that the case had been tabled and he is ruling on it, no! We are saying that we are not ready to table anything before you for this and that reasons and the man said I have right to see what you are saying but the case has not even started with him.
So, it is not a ruling that we have placed our position and they have placed their position, no! What has happened is that we said, don’t even hear this case for this reasons and the man said I can hear the case. So, naturally, it will have now transmit to a point where both lawyers argue for the man to rule but they are just mixing things up with propaganda and then we don’t want to join them in that propaganda.
“Surprisingly, these people rolled out drums and started celebrating that the court said that they have done election and that the arbitration clause will be settled later. Then, they started visiting everywhere. If we react to that, it might lead to a breakdown of law and order, so, we allowed them to enjoy their drum and do their visitation, at the appropriate time, the President will visit and then let the Controllers know who is in-charge and then we dare the Controller who is ready to go against that, then we see where we will go from there.”
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