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Trustees explain why clergy’s suit was dismissed

By Silver Nwokoro
20 September 2022   |   3:50 am
The Registered Trustees of the Gospel Apostolic Church and three other defendants in the suit filed against them by Pastor Garuba Obabueki have explained that trial Judge, Ibrahim Buba, dismissed the suit and awarded N100, 000 against the applicant for lack of merit.

Pastor Obabueki (left) and counsel. Malachy Ugwummadu

The Registered Trustees of the Gospel Apostolic Church and three other defendants in the suit filed against them by Pastor Garuba Obabueki have explained that trial Judge, Ibrahim Buba, dismissed the suit and awarded N100, 000 against the applicant for lack of merit.

According to the defendants, the judge dismissed the suit after listening to the arguments of the parties and considering the evidence adduced before him, describing the applicant’s case “as fairy tale that sounds like fiction and fanciful.”

The applicant had filed the suit marked FHC/L/CS/2040 on December 30, 2014, seeking to enforce his fundamental right against the defendants.

In his decision, Justice Buba, who decried the applicant’s concealment of assistance by the defendants, said: “The applicant is not to be believed, the contradictory averments can clearly be seen as a fabrication. I think as rightly deposed to by the 4th defendant, the applicant is an ungrateful man in spite of all that the defendant did for him after the unfortunate incident he brought to bear on himself.

“The applicant skillfully kept away all the facts of this assistance and what transpired between him and the defendants on the fateful day and re-invented the story. In re-writing the events, the applicant also skillfully kept or concealed the facts of what occurred at the palace of the Oba of Benin and the UBA cheque of October 15, 2012 that was issued to him.

“The Court does not believe the facts offered by the applicant. The applicant tried to pull a wool on the face of the court to secure sympathy that he does not deserve. Facts are sacred they do not lie, but human beings lie. The applicant in the instant case who went to the house of the Lord to tamper with a loaded gun like a small child has himself to blame.

In spite of all the efforts made to rehabilitate him he is still an unrepentant ungrateful man of God. Men of God should not lie in ordinary matters let alone an oath before God.”

Regardless of the above judgement, the defendants said the applicant on June 9, 2016 surreptitiously commenced a garnishee proceeding in court in respect of another judgement in suit marked FHC/L/CS/1273/2013 earlier abandoned and on November 28, 2016, Justice Hadiza Shagari granted an Order Nisi for the attachment of all the funds standing to the credit of the Gospel Apostolic Church and 3 others with their bankers.

“The Trustees of the Church only became aware for the first time the concluded proceedings and the judgement in suit number: FHC/L/CS/1273/2013 on February 22, 2017, when Ecobank Plc, one of its bankers informed the Trustees by a letter dated same day, that a lien has been placed on the account of it’s former General Overseer, the late Reverend Samuel Akinbode Sadela.

“Having become aware of the said judgment, the Trustees of the Church through their counsel, Kehinde Fadayiro took various legal processes both at the lower Court and the appellate Court in Appeal No: CA/L/43/2018 without success to set aside the said judgement obtained by fundamental irregularity orchestrated by the applicant with the active connivance of his solicitors and the ex-bailiff of the Court, who claimed to have served the Court processes in the suit no: FHC/L/CS/1273/2013, but did not serve.

“In an attempt by the Church to attack the record of the lower Court, which states that the Church was served with the originating processes in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1273/2013, the Registered Trustees of the Church discovered to their utter shock and disbelief that the same ex-bailiff, who claimed to have served the Church, has been dismissed from the Federal Judicial Service on October 18, 2017 by the Federal Judicial Service Commission for serious misconduct like false deposition of affidavit of service in suit no: FHC/L/CS/2040/2014 and in another suit no: FHC/L/CP/142/2015, Mr. Wellington Okotodei vs. Incorporated Trustees of Pinnock Beach Association Lekki Lagos and others,” the defendants declared.

They stated that upon the aforesaid discovery, the Trustees of the Church through their counsel on the November 30, 2018, filed suit number FHC/L/CS/2005/2018 against Pastor Obabueki and the Deputy Sheriff of the Federal High Court to set aside the judgment in suit no: FHC/L/CS/1273/2013 on the ground of fraud, gross misrepresentation and deceit and in the face of the overwhelming evidence before the court, including that of the ex-bailiff, who confessed in open court that he never served the originating processes on the defendants.

Following the action, Justice O.O Liman on July 15, 2022 dismissed the suit on the ground that he does not have the requisite jurisdiction to entertain the case.

The judgment in suit no: FHC/L/CS/2005/2018, they said, has since been appealed against on July 27, 2022 and their counsel have been duly served.

Their appeal is a continuation of the hearing of the case and until the appeal is dispensed with the action is still pending in the Court.

The appellants said: “Upholding a preliminary objection by the trial Court does not necessarily translate that the Appeal Court would agree with the trial Court based on the facts and evidence on record before the Court; as the Appellate Court is entitled to look at the records before it and decide if the trial Court was right or wrong.

“Our client would like to clarify the issue of the armoury with loaded guns raised: Firstly, at no time or period has the Registered Trustees of the Church maintained any armoury with loaded guns within it’s premises. Secondly, the loaded single barrel shotgun that Pastor Obabueki fiddled with before it exploded and caused damage to his two eyes was principally used for the protection of the then General Overseer of the Church and the other ministers of God who lived within the premises of the Church at that time as the nefarious activities of hoodlums terrorising Somolu/ Bariga area of Lagos State was at its peak during that period of the the year.

“In addition, Pastor Obabueki indeed lodged a fictitious petition against the Chief Security Officer and the Registered Trustees of the Church at Zone 2 Police Command Headquarters, Onikan, Lagos in May 2008 where the Chief Security Officer was arrested, detained and later released on bail.

“After the conclusion of investigation of the case, the Chief Security Officer and the Registered Trustees of the Church were never charged before any Court of law in Nigeria for the offence of unlawful possession of firearms or any other related offence whatsoever,” the appellants stated.