Court nullifies disqualification of Osinga Azubuike from contesting SSANU Election
The Court held that Osinga Azubuike was wrongly and unlawfully disqualified from contesting the 2021 branch Election; granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining the National President, Rivers State Chairman And Branch Chairman University Of Portharcourt Senior Staff Association Of Nigerian Universities, their agents or privies from disqualifying the Azubuike from contesting University of Port Harcourt Chapter, Union Branch Election.
From facts, the claimant- Mr. Osinga Azubuike had submitted that he was disqualified from contesting the post of the Chairman, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, University of Port Harcourt Branch, sought a declaration that his disqualification by the ELECO/CREDENTIAL COMMITTEE is unlawful, oppressive, arbitrary and null and void by virtue of the clear provisions of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities Constitution among others.
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In defense, counsel to the Union submitted that Azubuike did not meet the constitutional provision of serving out a term and was rightfully declared ineligible to contest the post by the Credentials/Electoral Committee that the 3rd Defendant lacks the power within the Constitution of the Union to reinstate the eligibility of Azubuike on the basis of ‘peace and harmony within the Union’.
In reply, Azubuike’s Counsel argued that his client was first elected as Branch Vice-Chairman; but upon the demise of the Chairman, he was elected through bye-election to complete his tenure, which made him eligible to contest the 2021 election, urged the court to grant the relief sought.
After careful submission of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Nelson Ogbuanya held that adoption of an interpretative approach as canvassed by the learned counsel for the Defendants (1st, 2nd, and 4th Defendants) would surely lead to absurdity.
Justice Ogbuanya further held that nowhere in the provisions of the SSANU Constitution, the mode of entry into the executive committee would be considered as a member of the executive committee for a minimum term indicated that bye-election was excluded or that the person must have served a full term of four years.
The Court held that Mr. Osinga Azubuike is qualified having satisfied the eligibility criteria set out in the provisions of the extant SSANU Constitution, nullified his earlier disqualification by the Credential/Eleco Committee for not being in accordance with the extant provisions of the SSANU Constitution.
“I also hold the view that placing such reliance on the provisions of Article 9(vii)(a) and (c) of the said SSANU Constitution, which deals with Tenure of Office and Bye-Election is inappropriate, as the election in issue is not Bye-Election but normal election for a particular term, the 2021 election.” Justice Ogbuanya ruled.