There is yet no end in sight to the crisis bedevilling the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) as a faction flouts a court’s restraining order directing it to stay action pending the final decision on the rift in the association.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Abuja restrained officers of a faction of ANA, led by Camilus Ukah as President, from conducting the 40th national convention of the association as the leadership crisis afflicting the association remained unresolved.
Seven claimants in the suit marked FCT/HC/CV/2613/2021, filed at the FCT High Court in Abuja on October 25, obtained the order of interim injunction barring the registered trustees of the association and its 18-member executive committee “from identifying and parading themselves as officers of ANA and from holding the upcoming national convention”, which was billed to hold at the Writers Village, Abuja.
The judge, O.A Musa, also barred them from parading themselves as elected officials until the matter was heard.
He also gave a similar ruling barring the officials of the Abuja chapter of the association, whose election was conducted by the Ukah-led faction until determination of the suit.
The claimants in the suit are Halima Usman, Anthony Onuga, Eze Collins Ofoma, Friday Onah, Change Msurshima Comfor, Godwin Alapa and Charles Iwuchukwu.
They had pleaded with the court to restrain the Ukah-led executive committee from holding any public gathering “for any matter concerning ANA.”
The Ukah faction, however, held the event despite the court ruling on the matter, PREMIUM TIMES understands.
When reached for comments, however, Mr Ukah told this newspaper his group was not served the court papers before the event. He also said his legal team “is already studying all the court papers.”
Two writers, Ahmed Maiwada and Mr Ukah, are laying claim to the leadership of the association of authors.
The two have engaged in a bitter battle of supremacy over the last few months to shore up their support bases despite attempts by various groups to mediate.
A third group, which does not recognise the two, has further polarised the association.
PREMIUM TIMES exclusively reported the genesis and reasons for the crisis and how this has worsened over the years.
This newspaper also reported how attempts by the association’s advisory council to intervene were unsuccessful.
Court ruling aftermath
PREMIUM TIMES learnt the court has now extended the ruling barring the faction till February 10, 2022.
A lawyer representing the ‘Abuja chapter’ of the association, Issac Ogezi, alleged in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Monday that the Ukah faction deliberately flouted the court’s order and this “angered the judge” which led to the extension of the order.
He said the officials of the faction were duly served the initial court papers barring them from office “but they refused to be served”.
He said the judge had then adjourned the case till November 25 after he gave the ruling.
The official, who indicated his support for the Maiwada faction, added that due to the flouting of the orders, his legal team, on November 25, had approached the court to get it to “extend its injunction restraining Mr Ukah and his team members, together with the illegally assembled ANA Abuja EXCO members, from parading themselves as various officers of ANA, until the final determination of the case challenging the constitutionality of their elections”.
He said the judge, after the hearing, extended his order till February 10, 2022, “a date for hearing of the pending motion on notice for extending the injunction even farther till the end of the case in court”.
“Thus, the lifespan of the interim injunction has been extended and the matter accordingly adjourned till February 10, 2022 for hearing of the motion on notice,” Mr Ogezi posted on the ANA Facebook platform.
He also said the “defendants served the claimants through the bailiff their Conditional Memoranda of Appearance signed by their counsel, D. K. Iorhemba Esq. and J. B. Ifer.”
He said the defendants were only served with the processes five days earlier by substituted means “because they had evaded service”.
“The court restrained them from holding the purported anniversary convention which they violated,” Mr Ogezi said on the phone. “We were called on November 25 and the court was not happy that its order was held contemptuously by the Camilus exco and the purported exco elected through him which are the purported ANA Abuja executive.”
“The position the Camilus side is holding is that they were not aware of the court order. ANA national was served on November 1. Camilus and Mike Ortsega, who is the one parading himself as the National Secretary (were served). They were served but they declined service which by law is good service since you were served but you refused.”
The lawyer noted that before the convention which was conducted in contravention of the court’s order, Mr Camilus’ lawyer had written to the court asking for the certified true copies of the processes and the order of the court.
“This means they were aware of the order and they wanted the processes of the court,” he said.
Mr Ukah, when contacted on Monday, for his reaction, said: “I need to talk to my legal adviser to know whether I should respond to whatever matter is ‘hanging’ in court.”
But when pressed further, he said: “to the best of my knowledge before the convention, and immediately after no paper was served on me or any of my exco member or any principal officer of the association. It was after the convention that the legal adviser informed me that there is a court paper demanding attention. That is after the convention.”
“If you investigate further, you will see the calibre of people that attended the convention. They are not mean people. We had representation from other countries. We had representations from Cameroon, Ghana and Gambia. And the Pan-African Writers association led by the chief executive was there. Vice chancellor of the University of Abuja was there as the chairman of the occasion. Senator Shehu Sani was there including the minister of information who sent a representative,” he said.
He also noted that the governor of Borno sent a representative and donated N1 million which he has redeemed. “The governor of Bauchi sent a representative. The chairman of the advisors Council, Femi Osofisan, was there. It was a big event…”
On whether the faction he leads would obey the court ruling barring them from “parading themselves as elected officers, he said: “I don’t reside in Abuja, but I am aware that our legal team made representation in the court on November 25.”
He said he had not been fully briefed about what transpired.
“I will depend on the advice of my lawyer but I need to be briefed first. As I am talking to you now, I have not seen any court paper…,” he added.
This newspaper had reported how both claimants held parallel conventions in 2020.
While the Maiwada group held its convention in Awka, Anambra State, between December 10 and 12, the Ukah group held its earlier between December 3 and 6 in Ilorin, Kwara State, where it said “it took decisions concerning its status”.
At the Maiwada group’s convention, Bode Sowande was reportedly appointed as the new ‘ANA BOT chairman’ alongside Yaya Dangana and Tracie Utoh-Ezeajugha as members.
But the Ukah faction had dismissed the appointments, insisting the event was an illegal one.
A statement released by the Ukah group signed by Umar Yogiza Jr. (PRO North) and Wole Adedoyin (PRO South), said the convention held in Awka was illegal.
It also reaffirmed the “expulsion” of Mr Maiwada, Ngozi Chuma-Udeh, Akogun Tai Oguntayo, Patrick Oguejiofor, Owupele Francis, Usho Smith Adawa, Banma Baba Suleiman, Dada Korede, Moses Joseph, Isa Ibrahim Dan Musa, Stanley Kavwam, and Isaac Attah Ogezi “for repeatedly violating the constitution of the association. Whoever associates them with ANA does so at his/her own risk.”
“There is only one ANA under the leadership of Mr Camilus Ukah,” it said. “There is only one Advisory Council under the chairmanship of Professor Femi Osofisan…”
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