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Court Adjourns Lagos Country Club Leadership Dispute Till June 2

Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has adjourned till June 2, 2024, for further hearing in a dispute over the leadership of the Lagos Country Club.

The judge’s decision followed an application for adjournment by defence counsel Dr. ‘Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, to enable the defendants file responses to the plaintiffs’ originating summons and motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

In the suit marked FHC/L/CS/301/2024. the president of the club and nine others had on February 23, 2024, via an ex parte motion filed by their lawyer, A. B. Ogunsusi, obtained an interim injunction restraining the defendants form dissolving the management council of the Lagos Country Club.

The order also restrained the defendants from inaugurating a caretaker committee as replacement pending the hearing and determination of the interlocutory application.

The club’s management council is the body recognised in the club’s constitution to manage and administer the club’s affairs.

Others listed as applicants in the suit are Engr, Tunji Amosu (Vice President), Otunba Abimbola Olaniyi (Treasurer), Arc. Adetokunbo Ashiru (Council Member), Mr Osemoje Oselato (Social Secretary), Sir Semoore Badejo (Chairman, Squash Section), Mr Adetayo Adegboye (Chairman, Aerobics Section), Prince Owolabi Mumuni (Chairman, Darts Section), Mr Olufemi Azeez (Chairman Badminton Section) and Mr. Tunde Thanni (Chairman, Scrabble Section).

The defendants are Aare Kola Oyefeso, Chief Allan O. Williams, Prince Adekunle Adeshina, Chief Oliver Ogbonna and Mr. Akindele Akintoye.

At the commencement of proceedings on Thursday, March 14, 2024, Pinheiro informed the court that his appearance was under protest for the ‘presumed’ defendants.

He explained that the persons purportedly sued as defendants had not been served with any originating (or interlocutory) processes filed in the suit.

The SAN also drew the court’s attention to the pendency of a sister suit marked FHC/L/CA/321/2024, between the Registered Trustees of the Lagos Country Club v. Seyi Adewunmi & 18 Ors. and the re-assignment of the said suit (on his application) to the court.

Accordingly, Pinheiro indicated his intention to bring a formal application for consolidation of the afore-referenced suit with the Plaintiffs’ suit, following re-assignment of the former suit to Justice Lewis-Allagoa.

But responding to the issue of service, plaintiff’s counsel Ogunsusi contended that the defendants had been served.

But at Pinheiro’s request, the court examined its records and confirmed that indeed the defendants had not been served with any processes.

Pinheiro demonstrated that the said purported service had been undertaken on the General Manager of the Lagos Country Club and not the defendants, as alleged.

He argued that from the plaintiffs’ processes in the court’s file, the defendants were sued in their individual names and ought to be served personally, adding that there was no order of the court granting leave to the plaintiffs to serve the said processes by substituted means (whether through the General Manager, as purportedly served, or by any other means whatsoever).

The court agreed with Pinheiro on the issue of service and chastised counsel for the Plaintiff for misleading the court that the Defendants had been served.

Following Pinheiro’s willingness to accept service of the processes in court, service of the plaintiffs’ originating summons and motion on notice for interlocutory injunction was effected.

Ogunsusi subsequently identified an application seeking to join new persons to the suit (as Defendants) and the Plaintiffs’ motion ex parte seeking leave of court to serve the said application (motion for joinder) on the parties sought to be joined.

But Pinheiro noted that it would be tidier for the plaintiffs to serve the said application on the defendants before proceeding to seek leave of court to serve by substituted means.

The court then directed the Plaintiffs’ counsel to serve the motion for joinder before the Plaintiffs would be granted leave to serve the parties sought to be joined.

Chief Babatunde Fashanu, SAN, addressed the court, indicating his intention to apply to join the suit as a Defendant, should parties consent to his oral application.

Following the Court’s insistence that Fashanu’s oral application be put in writing, Pinheiro argued that the circumstances had therefore necessitated that the Plaintiffs bring a more comprehensive application for joinder of the parties sought to be joined as well as Fashanu.

Counsel for the Plaintiffs undertook to serve the motion for joinder on the Defendants’ counsel, moved the application for leave to serve by substituted means in terms and same was granted.

Plaintiffs’ counsel to raise issues relating to (alleged) harassment and intimidation of the Plaintiffs by the Defendants, despite pendency of the orders of the Court (and urging the Court to order status quo),

During the proceedings, the court disregarded claims of alleged harassment or intimidation raised by the plaintiff, noting that they were not issues before it and that any such issue could only be constituted in an application for the enforcement of fundamental rights.

Pinheiro, disagreeing with the plaintiff, denied the existence of any undertaking allegedly extracted from him in Suit No: FHC/L/CA/321/2024 and stated that no such undertaking had been made.

Justice Lewis-Allagoa adjourned further proceedings till June 2, 2024, for a report of service.

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