OMMATA leadership crisis: Court restrains LG from conducting poll

An Enugu State High Court has restrained Enugu North Local Government Council from changing the leadership of Ogbette Main Market Traders Association, Enugu against the association’s constitution.
The court, presided over by Justice C. A. Ogbuabor, also restrained the council from conducting an election for OMMATA members except as and by the methods provided in the association’s constitution 2005.
It would be recalled that the OMMATA had been enmeshed in leadership crisis following which the state government instituted a caretaker leadership committee for the association.
The caretaker committee leadership under the supervision of the Enugu North Local Government Council had set out to conduct an election without recourse to the association’s constitution.
However, some traders led by Samuel Chukwu and four others on behalf of themselves and the concerned chairmen, secretaries and members of Commodity Units of the market approached the court to challenge the action.
The plaintiffs also filed a Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction restraining the defendants from conducting the said election in disregard to the constitution of the association or any amendments, thereof.
Joined in the suit as defendants are the Enugu North Local Government Council and chairman of the local government council.
The defendants, however, filed a notice of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter.
The defendants averred that the originating processes were neither signed by the plaintiffs nor their legal practitioner in accordance with Order 6 Rule 2(3) of the High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2006.
The defendants also claimed that the plaintiffs’ counsel failed to affix stamp and seal of the Nigeria Bar Association as provided in Rules 10 of Professional Conduct on the Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction.
Ruling on the submissions of the parties, Ogbuabor held that the defendants did not seem to deny that they were about to conduct an election in a manner inconsistent with the constitution of the association.
He said: “They argue that they are statutorily empowered to regulate and supervise the market in which the plaintiffs operate and that the suit amounts to interference with government functions.”
The judge said the balance of convenience under the present circumstance was in favour of an injunction, pending the determination of the substantive suit.
“The court, hereby, makes an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants from conducting an election for the OMMATA members except as and by the methods provided in the association’s constitution,” he held.