The High Court of Cross River State sitting in Calabar has on Monday 24th February, 2020 delivered judgment in Suit No: HC/332/2019 Between Mr. Micheal Ushie & 7 Ors. Vs. Mr. Eyam Abeng E. & Anor.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Edem Kooffreh ruled that the matter before the court was highly contentious, confusing and conflicting as such cannot be effectively determined by mere affidavit evidence via originating summons as filed by the claimants. Hence, he ordered the claimants to start afresh by filing a writ of summons instead.
Recall that some aggrieved members of the Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH) Alumni Association had on September, 2019 taken the leadership of the association to court to challenge the tenure of office of the National Executive Council (NEC) and Board of Trustee (BOT), alleging tenure elongation tenure and praying among others for a declaration that the set up of the electoral committee by the NEC was illegal and against the association’s constitution.
In response to the suit the leadership of the Association through their counsels filed a counter affidavit describing the claimants’ position as absolute falsehood, baseless and a ploy to avoid their imminent defeat at the polls as well as forestall the December 2019 electoral processes.
The defendants further filed two preliminary objections:
That defendant were not properly served as required by law; and that the mode of commencement of the suit via originating summons robe the court of jurisdiction to hear the matter as issues raised therein by the claimants are highly contentious and therefore prayed the court to strike out the suit.
On the first ground of objection the court held that the mere entering of appearance, defendants had waived their right and as such can no longer complain of non service of court summons.
However on the other issue, the court agreed with the defendants that the issues so raised by claimants were not just contentious, but confusing and conflicting.
For instance, the second Claimant (Mr. John Odaji) need to prove that he is a valid chairman of Abuja Chapter of CRUTECH Alumni by telling the court through oral testimony that he is not a staff of the University of Calabar and more so all the claimants must prove that they were financially up-to-date members of the association to maintain action. More so, the issue of whether or not there was tenure elongation can only be ascertain and determine effectively through oral evidence and calling of witnesses to testify before the court.
Relying on the Cross River State High Court Civil Procedure Rules, the judge ordered the claimants to start all over again by filing a writ of summons and adjoined the matter to 16th day of March for pretrial.
When contacted by our correspondence, the National Legal Adviser of CRUTECH Alumni Association, Dr. Ukam I. Ngwu, Esq reiterates his confidence on the judiciary to effectively determined the issues in the overall interest of the association. He further stated that the association’s legal team were still studying the court ruling to determine their next line of action in the succeeding weeks.
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