Court declares suspension of ESV Dokunmu as wrongful, illegal - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Thursday, June 2, 2022

Court declares suspension of ESV Dokunmu as wrongful, illegal

......orders inquiry into Abeokuta Club finances

......awards #2m cost to a member for illegal suspension

By Peter Adedoyin

A Federal High Court, sitting in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, has declared the suspension of a member of Abeokuta Club, ESV Babatunde Dokunmu as wrongful and illegal from the club late last year.

It awarded the sum of two million Naira compensation to ESV Dokunmu

The court also ordered investigation into an alleged fraud perpetrated by the President of the Club, Engr Tokunbo Odebunmi.

In a suit with no FHC/AB/CS/66/2021 filed at the Federal High Court of Nigeria sitting in Abeokuta, ESV Babatunde Dokunmu had approached the court to challenge his unwarranted and illegal suspension from the club activities for some strange reasons.

It was gathered that Babatunde Dokunmu had earlier alleged that the President of the Abeokuta Club, Engineer Tokunbo Odebunmi had misappropriated the sum of N53 million; the club money. This led to the decision of the club to set up a panel to investigate this. 

Following the allegation, the Life President of the Club ordered for the investigation with Justice Bode Popoola, a retired High Court Judge heading the panel.

"The panel invited Dokunmu to come and prove the allegations within 48hours".

"In his response, Dokunmu requested for a new date as he was on a holiday outside the town as at that period. But in a twist, the panel did not find it funny, instead placed Dokunmu on six months suspension from the club activities".

"Dokunmu protested against this harsh decision and an appellate panel was set up under Hon Justice Deinde Soremi to review the decision of the first panel".

"He also sought for a declaration that the suspension is illegal, unconstitutional null and void".

Justice Deinde Soremi led panel ruled that Dokunmu was unduly punished, submitting further that the panel that suspended Dokunmu was investigatory or merely advisory and not judicial or quasi- judicial body and therefore set aside the decision of the lower panel and considered the suspension null and void

Failure of the Club to obey the appellate panel compelled him to approach the Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta, with Justice O.O. Oguntoyinbo acceding to the prayers of the applicants.

Dokunmu had sought for an order of the honourable Court directing the Club to constitute an independent panel to investigate the alleged misappropriation of the club's money.

An order of the court setting aside the purported suspension, and damages in the sum of #10,000000(ten million naira only) for illegal malicious and unconstitutional suspension.

In their joint defence, the respondents;

In his preliminary ruling, the trial judge , affirmed that "Overall in the light of  motions and objections on the position of the 2nd - 5th respondents, the names are hereby struck out for being incompetent "

Countering this claim, the applicants counsel  submitted that by the facts before the court, the applicants had established fraudulent misappropriation of the club's money, thus the 3rd respondent, Engineer Tokunbo Odebunmi 's name must be mentioned.

In  his ruling Hon Justice O. O. Oguntoyinbo said the court is constrained to agree with the position of the respondents." Not only did the respondents hold the meeting, it went further to suspend the applicant. The case would have been entirely different if the applicant had ignored the respondent's message or had intentionally declined to attend without giving a valid reason ".

The judge also concluded by ordering fresh investigation into the financial misappropriation and award the sum of two million naira as a cost in favour of the applicant.

"Since the decision to suspend the applicant was taken in breach of his right to fair hearing, it is only logical that the suspension amounts to nullity, consequently, the issue is also resolved in favour of the applicant "

"Contrary to the respondent's position that the respondent is a voluntary association, it is trite that an investigative body exercising quasi- judicial functions, like the respondent in the circumstances of this case is bound to observe the rules of natural justice."

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