Leadership tussle: NNPC staffers head to Appeal Court

By Ameh Ejekwonyilo

A legal battle is brewing amongst the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Staff Multi-purpose Cooperative Society, Abuja, as some aggrieved members on Wednesday vowed to appeal against the verdict of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court which nullified the election of officers of the society.

The lawyer to the leadership of the Society, Mr. Ibrahim Idris told journalists at the FCT High Court in Abuja that the substance of the High Court judgment delivered by Justice Charles Agbaza would be challenged at the Court of Appeal.

He said the Notice of Appeal to challenge the High Court decision would be filed in the next 48 hours.

Ibrahim faulted the decision of the trial court on the grounds that the judge ought not to have dabbled into the internal affairs of the Cooperative Society.
 The counsel insisted that the issue of the Cooperative Society election to elect management officers was purely a domestic affair of the members of the society and that the court lacked requisite jurisdiction to have delved into the matter.

Justice Agbaza had on Wednesday nullified the election of the Cooperative officers elected in June last year on the grounds that the constitution of the cooperative society was not followed.

A group of retired NNPC Staff led by Agada Michael Agbo and Egahson Shehu Salifu had dragged the Cooperative officers before the FCT High Court challenging the last year’s election that produced them.

The plaintiffs claimed that section 20 of the Bye-Law of the Cooperative society was violated by adopting an online voting system as against the balloting or electronic voting stipulated by the law. 
Plaintiff further challenged the election on the grounds that a Registrar who did not supervise the election performed the inauguration of the elected officials contrary to the provisions of the law.

In his judgment Justice Agbaza agreed that section 20 of the Bye-Law of the Cooperative society was circumvented by adopting online system as against the Balloting required by law.

The judge therefore nullified the election and ordered that an Electoral Committee must be put in place to conduct a fresh election within 90 days.

The court however declined to grant the N100 million compensatory damages demanded by the plaintiffs while instituting the court action.

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