NGF crisis: Jang tells court to dismiss Fashola’s suit

by Rachel Ogbu

Gov. Jonah JangGov. Babatunde Raji-Fashola

The Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang is still struggling with his position as chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum. Recently, he requested that an Abuja High Court discharged a suit by the Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola to declare that Jang was incompetent to be called the elected chairman of the NGF.

Jang, reacting through his lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, on Friday, June 21 has also filed a preliminary objection to Fashola’s suit.

In the preliminary objections to the suit with No CV/3389/13, brought pursuant to section 6 (6) (A) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and order 22, rules 2, 3 and 4 of the FCT High Court, Jang urged the court to strike out Fashola’s suit on the grounds that the Lagos State governor lacked the locus standi to institute the action.

According to reports, Jang maintained that Fashola did not claim to have contested the election for the NGF chairman; therefore he lacked a legal right to institute or sustain the action.

[READ: “Stop parading yourself as NGF chairman” – Amaechi warns Jang ]

[READ: NGF crisis: “I’m not an impostor” – Jang replies Amaechi, as several governors snub Jonathan ]

The Punch reports:

Fashola, one of the governors in the camp of the Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi-led faction of the NGF, had, through his counsel, Prof. Yemi Osinbajio, SAN, and Femi Falana, SAN, averred in the suit that Amaechi was duly returned as the chairman of the Forum in the elections held on Friday, May 24, 2013.

He, therefore, asked the court to stop Jang from parading himself “as the elected chairman of the NGF in any manner whatsoever and howsoever.”

Jang; the Director-General of the NGF, Asishana Okauru; the Sole Administrator, Osaro Onaiwu; and the Registered Trustees of the NGF, were all joined as respondents in Fashola’s suit.

But Jang has responded to the writ of summons filed by the Lagos State governor.

Jang noted that Amaechi, who Fashola claimed won the disputed election, had neither complained to the court  nor named or joined as party to the suit.

Arguing that the court has no jurisdiction to entertain the matter, Jang submitted that any dispute within NGF could not be taken to an Abuja High Court by virtue of Part C of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, which prescribes that such disputes should be resolved at the Federal High Court.

He further argued that the suit suggested a dispute between the governor of Lagos State and the governor of Plateau State, and as such, no other court has the jurisdiction to entertain the matter apart from the Supreme Court, which is bequeathed with the exclusive jurisdiction to determine or resolve disputes between state governments, or state governments and the Federal Government.

Jang further asked the court to strike out the suit on the grounds that the Writ of Summons was not issued in accordance with procedural due process, adding that the Abuja High Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain Fashola’s claims.

Also, he argued that “even if the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory has jurisdiction to entertain the Plaintiff’s claims, the Plaintiff lacks locus standi to bring the suit.”

The NGF factional chairman stressed that, even if Fashola had the locus standi to institute the action, the subject matter of the suit was not justiceable “as they relate to a mere dispute as to political dignity.”

In the statement of defence, Jang insisted that he was the authentic chairman of the NGF.

He alleged that ballot papers used for the disputed election were unilaterally printed by Amaechi, and therefore not authorised by the governor members of the NGF.

Jang noted that the Forum had always produced its chairmen by consensus of members, stressing that he emerged as chairman through consensus.

The statement of defence reads in part, “Traditionally, the NGF does not hold elections to produce a chairman. It is the practice that the chairman of the Forum is appointed by consensus of the members. Where a consensus cannot be reached, the candidate supported by a simple majority would become the chairman.

“In pursuance of that fact above, Governor Amaechi was informed that 19 of the 36 governors of the states of the Federation have indicated in writing their decision to support Governor Jonah Jang as Chairman of the NGF.

“Despite the fact above, Governor Amaech still insisted that there must be an election and that he must preside at the meeting.

“At this stage, Governor Amaechi produced ballot papers which he had unilaterally printed without prior authority of other members of the NGF and started distributing same for the purpose of the so called election.

“When Governor Amaech refused to step down as Chairman of the Forum but insisted on presiding to conduct the election, 18 out of the 35 members present at the meeting immediately indicated their unflinching support for Governor Jonah Jang as the new Chairman of the Forum without prejudice to their objection to the insistence of Governor Amaechi on presiding over the election process.”

Jang and Onaiwu therefore prayed that Fashola’s suit” be dismissed for being frivolous and unmeritorious.”

Meanwhile, has called for meeting of the NGF on Wednesday at the Rivers State Lodge, in Abuja, one of our correspondents learnt on Sunday.

The meeting is the first by Amaechi since the outcome of the NGF election held in Abuja on May 24.

Okauru confirmed the meeting. “Yes, there will be a meeting,” he said.

The Jang faction had met twice in their new secretariat at Maitama District of Abuja.


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