ALGON: Court affirms Kolade Alabi’s leadership

The leadership of Mr Kolade Alabi of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) was Friday affirmed by the Federal High Court (FHC) in Abuja.

The suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1609/2023, was instituted by the Incorporated Trustees of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), Hon Abubakar Abdullahi and Hon Shaban Oyinoyi Shuabu.

Delivering his judgment, Justice Inyang Ekwo dismissed the suit, seeking a declaration that Alabi was not qualified to be national president of ALGON.

The Judge, who held that the applicants lacked the legal right to institute the matter, said the suit was an abuse of court process; the applicants, having filed similar suits to challenge Alabi’s presidency.

The applicants argued that Alabi, the immediate-past president, who is chairman of Bariga Local Council Development Area (LCDA) in Lagos State at the time, cannot be president of the association as Bariga is not among the country’s 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs).

They sued the Federal Ministry of Finance, Accountant-General of the Federation and Governor of Central Bank as 1st to 3rd respondents.

Others joined in the matter include the Attorney-General of Federation, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Inspector-General (I-G) of Police, State Security Services(SSS) and Honorable Alabi as 4th to 8th respondents respectively.

In their originating summons filed by Bartholomew Opara, they maintained that Alabi is not eligible to be ALGON president as he was not a local government chairman as contemplated by the 1999 Constitution, the Constitution of ALGON and a Supreme Court decision which had touched on the dispute.

They contended that Alabi had been removed by ALGON’s National Executive Council in 2019 but he kept parading himself as president.

They, therefore, urged Justice Ekwo to uphold the removal of Alabi by NEC and perpetually restrain him from further parading as such, among other reliefs.

But Alabi’s lawyer, Wahab Shittu, SAN, filed a counter affidavit and a preliminary objection, praying the court to decline jurisdiction on the matter.

Shittu told the court to strike out the case and dismiss the entire suit for lack of jurisdiction and for being incompetent.

He added that the entire case rests on the constitution of ALGON and the only person that can be sued is the national president, but the person sued “is the national chairman.”

Delivering the judgment, Justice Ekwo held that the subject matter of the case and claims of the applicants were matters that the ALGON, by its general assembly and by applying the provisions of its constitution, could resolve.

“In other words, the subject matter of this case belongs in the realm of internal affairs of the association which no outsider, not even the court can be invited to interfere or resolve,” he added.

The judge maintained that an association is bound by its registered constitution and that it is also bound by the decision of the majority taking at its legitimate meetings.

He said any member who did not agree with the decision of the majority had the option of leaving the association.

He, therefore, agreed with Alabl’s arguement that being an internal affairs of the body, the court ought not to interfere.

“This court upholds this leg of objection and declines jurisdiction,” he said.

The judge also described the instant suit as an abuse of court process, having filed similar matter in FCT in suit numbers: FCT/HC/CV/1823/2021; CV/2329/2020 and FHC/JAL/CS/28/2022 in Jalingo division of the FHC.

“In the end, I make an order dismissing this case for lack of locus standi of the plaintiffs, abuse of process of the court and incompetence of the originating process.

“This is the order of this court,” he declared.

The judge subsequently awarded a fine of N100, 000 against the plaintiffs but in favour of Alabi (8th defendant).

He equally directed that the fine must be paid within 30 days of the order.

Speaking shortly after the judgment, Alabi described the court’s decision as far-reaching as it would lay to rest all the agitations of aggrieved members.

Alabi, who described the judgment as victory for democracy, said the fine awarded in his favour would be donated to the charity homes.

Also speaking, the new ALGON president, Mr Aminu Muazu-Maifata, said it was a long-awaited judgment.

“This has now put to rest that anybody that is not an executive member of ALGON cannot institute any legal action or otherwise against it

“And that has been proved and it has clearly stated that ALGON, as an association, has strata to address any misgiving or challenge of any member,” he said.

He called on all members, including the aggrieved ones, to come together to move the association forward.

“Now, we are set to a complete reunion of ALGON. We are set to move ALGON forward and this has really vindicated our immediate-past President.

“I enjoined others too, even those that constituted this failed case, to contribute in bringing the Nigerian people at the grassroots together,” he said.