UniAbuja council dispute: Court orders accelerated hearing in suit by Gbilekaa, others


A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered an accelerated hearing in a suit filed against the vice-chancellor of the University of Abuja (UniAbuja), Prof. Rasheed Na’Allah, over his alleged plan to inaugurate new member of the school’s Internal Governing Council despite the pendency of the case.


Justice Inyang Ekwo issued the order for an accelerated hearing on Thursday following a preliminary objection filed by Prof. Na’Allah, through his lawyer, Ogwu Onoja (SAN), challenging, among others, the competence of the suit.


Afam Osigwe

Chukwuemeka Mbamala

Chukwuemeka Mbamala


Some senior academic staff of the school, led by Prof. Saint Gbilekaa, had sued, challenging, among others, the process leading to the emergence of the new member of the school’s Internal Governing Council.


Other plaintiffs in the suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/683/2024 are Prof. Edmund Nwanna, Prof. Sunday Ejaro, Prof. Kasim Umar, Prof. Wesley Nafarnda, and Dr Uju Patrick.


Listed with the VC, as defendants, are the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), and the National Universities Commission (NUC).


Upon an ex-parte motion filed by the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Maxwell Opara, the court, on June 7, ordered Na’Allah to appear before it on June 13 to show cause why the planned inauguration should not be stopped.


The judge gave the order, in a ruling, shortly after Opara, moved the ex-parte motion to the effect.


At the mention of the case on Thursday, Opara noted that the business of the day was for Na’Allah to show cause.


Opara said he was served with the preliminary objection and a counter affidavit filed by Na’Allah a few minutes before the court’s sitting commenced.


He added: “All the other processes are not ripe because we are concerned with the affidavit to show cause.


“I will be asking the court to dismiss the 1st defendant’s (Na’Allah’s) affidavit to show cause because of its noncompliance with the rules (of the court).


“The notice to show cause filed did not comply with the rules,” Opara said.


Lawyer to the Vice Chancellor, Ogwu Onoja (SAN) noted that Na’Allah was ordered to show cause within three days, and in compliance with the order, he filed on June 11, an affidavit to show cause and three other processes – a counter affidavit to the motion on notice, a counter affidavit to the originating summons and preliminary objection.


Onoja argued that the three sets of documents were all filed within time.


Justice Ekwo observed that the documents filed by the VC were not yet in the court’s file.


Onoja then volunteered some copies, which were passed to the judge through an official of the court, as directed by the judge.


At that point, Opara indicated his interest in responding to the preliminary objection.


He also said that since the VC “keeps changing the date of the event,” he would love to join other officials of the school as parties in the case.



Justice Ekwo then drew Opara’s attention to the fact that any decision made in the case against the VC would affect the university.


The judge added: “The preliminary objection is before me and I cannot ignore it. I make an order for accelerated hearing.”


Justice Ekwo said he has examined the grounds of the objection and found that it ought to be determined first.



The judge then adjourned further proceedings till June 20.

He added: “On the date of hearing, the preliminary objection if any, will be taken together with the substantive matter and the processes of any party that is absent from court will be deemed as adopted.


“If any party is responsible for the matter not being heard, the learned counsel for the party will be personally penalised.”


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