By Onozure Dania
LAGOS— A Lagos High Court, sitting at Igbosere has adjourned a fundamental right enforcement suit filed by an ex-Entertainment Chairman of Ikoyi Club 1938, Mr. Gbenga Gbadesire, against the Registered Trustees of the club, till April 29, for further hearing. Gbadesire had dragged the trustees of the club to court, claiming N100m for damages, over alleged unwarranted or unprocedural expulsion from the club.
During the proceedings, the matter could, not go on following the expression of discomfort by the judge, Justice K.O. Dawodu, over a letter directly addressed to the court by the claimant. Gbadesire, in the letter dated March 19, 2015, had sought the permission of the judge to allow media coverage of the proceeding. However, when the matter was called, the judge asked the claimant’s counsel, Olubusola Ashiru, from the chambers of Fred Agbaje, if he was aware of the letter before him and what purpose it was meant to serve.
The counsel, who said he was appearing in the matter for the first time, told the court that the letter was not written on the advice of or with the knowledge of his chambers. The defence counsel, B.A. Onuoha, equally expressed surprise at the letter. The judge, who was not comfortable with the proceeding, said the matter would be adjourned.
Onuoha, who told the court that he came prepared to argue his case, asked the court to award a cost of N50, 000, against the claimant for his action for stalling the proceeding. The claimant’s counsel, however, pleaded with the court not to award such a cost.
The judge, while adjourning the matter, said he would not award any cost against the claimant but ordered that he 9Gbadesire) should appear before the court on the next adjourned date to explain why he had to write such a letter. Gbadesire, who served as the Entertainment Chairman of Ikoyi Club 1938 between February 2006 and February 2008, was contending that his expulsion from the club, via a letter dated October 2, 2008, was unprocedural and a breach of Rule 9 of the Ikoyi Club 1938 Rules 2007.
In a 15-paragraph affidavit deposed to by him, the claimant said he was made to face a disciplinary sub-committee of the club on August 14, 2008, on account of some allegations levelled against him by one Kole Jagun, alleging that he(Gbadesire) acted contrary to Rule 38 (c) and (d) of the club’s rules.
This allegation and his subsequent summon by the sub-committee, eventually led to his suspension from the club for a period of one year via a letter dated August 27, 2008. The claimant, further, stated that he wrote a letter to the registered trustees of the club challenging his suspension on the grounds of bias and miscarriage of justice.
He also, stated that he was later informed through a letter dated October 2, 2008, that following a meeting of the registered trustees of the club on September 23, 2008, it was resolved that his membership should be terminated. The claimant contended that the decision to expel him from the club was a violation of his fundamental human right to fair hearing and principle of natural justice as enshrined in Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution As (Amended)
He also urged the court to declare that his expulsion was a malicious and flagrant abuse of his right to the freedom of association as protected by Section 40 of the Constitution. The defendant, however, urged the court to decline jurisdiction over the matter and dismiss Gbadesire’s claims, for failing to explore or exhaust the club’s internal dispute resolution mechanism as provided in section 18 (1) (c) of the club’s rules before heading to the court.