BY IKHILI EBALU, BENIN CITY
The Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) , Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo on Thursday berated the co-founders of the organization, Rev. Nnimmo Bassey for what he described as another malicious falsehood and propaganda spreaded by the latter and his hirelings on the status of the two legal cases currently before the law courts seeking to resolve the legitimate management of the organization.
A statement signed by Nosa Tokunbor, Legal Officer, Environmental Rights Action Nigeria/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN) and made available to newsmen in Benin city said the conflict in ERA/FoEN between Rev. Nnimmo Bassey and Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, co-founders of the organization has confirmed the falsehood being peddled by some mischief makers that the court had ruled in their favour despite the fact that the matter is a subject of litigation.
According to him, There are currently two legal cases between Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) led by Dr Godwin Ojo, Executive Director, ERA/FoEN and Rev. Nnimmo Bassey, the Executive Director of HOMEF and life chair of the board of trustees of HOMEF.
Tokunbo who recalled that the General Assembly of ERA/FoEN had on October 7, 2020, sacked Rev. Nnimmo Bassey, for conflict of interest accused the co-founder of having arrogated to himself the title of the life Chair of ERA/FoEN since 1993.
He said, “The board of trustees and management of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) would have ordinarily let slide, the demeaning propaganda being spread by Rev. Nnimmo Bassey and his hirelings on the status of the two legal cases currently before our courts of justice seeking to resolve the legitimate management of the organization.
“As has become customary with Rev. Nnimmo Bassey and his cohorts, a potpourri of innuendoes, half-truths and outright lies have been put in the public domain to deceive unwary members of the national and international public.”
He noted that the true status of the suit remains that the first case, instituted by the board of trustees and management of Environmental Rights Action Nigeria, led by Dr Godwin Ojo was initially heard by Justice Liman of the Federal High court Lagos division, adding that the court granted a restraining order against Rev. Nnimmo Bassey and his cohorts from participating in the management of ERA/FoEN and retained Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo as the Executive Director of the organization.
Tokunbo emphasised that, “The court further ordered that Dr Godwin Ojo should continue to operate and manage the various projects and bank accounts of ERA/FoEN.
“The matter was reassigned to Justice Allagoa of the same Lagos Division of the High court. In a judgement delivered by Justice Allagoa, Rev. Nnimmo Bassey’s preliminary objection to the suit filed by ERA/FoEN was dismissed. And that the court has jurisdiction to hear the case. The court further directed parties to refile their case by way of Writ of Summons to allow for these contentious issues to be addressed. ERA/FoEN analysis of the judgment contended that the dismissal of the preliminary objection of Rev Nnimmo Bassey to our suit is significant but overlooked.
“Secondly, ERA/FoEN had argued and rightfully so that the 2015 certificate of incorporation being paraded by Rev. Nnimmo Bassey and on the basis of which he had engaged in series of illegalities with regard the management of ERA/FoEN was forged and without due process as set out in our constitution and the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 in obtaining the certificate of incorporation.”he said.
He continued, “ERA/FoEN, based on these facts decided to appeal the judgement of the court. While we were in the process of filing our appeal, the case came up before Justice Allagoa and Rev Bassey and his legal team moved the court to strike our suit for want of diligent prosecution. We have however relisted the suit and are working on our appeal.
“The second case was filed by Rev Nnimmo Bassey at the Lagos state High Court late last year while the case at the federal high court was still ongoing. This case was filed and an order freezing the accounts of ERA/FoEN was secured before the management was served with the court documents.
“The high court rules of Lagos state were disregarded and utterly disdained by Rev Nnimmo Bassey and his legal team in their desperate attempt to secure the order freezing the accounts of ERA/FoEN. They had in fact lied to the court that all parties were aware about the suit and had been properly served with court documents. The court acting on their lies proceeded to issue an order freezing the ERA/FoEN accounts.
“ERA/FoEN has appealed this decision by the court and curiously Rev Nnimmo Bassey and his legal team have also cross appealed the ruling of the court. Parties are presently awaiting direction from the court of appeal on a date to argue their appeals.”
Uyi Ojo who expressed dismay over the misinformation by the co-founder of ERA/FoEN urged the general public, “to disregard the propaganda, innuendoes, half-truths and outright lies being peddled by Rev Nnimmo Bassey and his cohorts. All through this process, Rev Nnimmo Bassey has acted with impunity as if he is above the laws of Nigeria, and employed less than savory tactics to deceive the court. “