Litigants and Counsel present at Court 1, National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), Ikoyi Lagos were shell shocked Wednesday as a member of the disputed caretaker committee of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Lagos chapter disrupted the Court proceedings for several minutes.
The caretaker committee member, simply identified as Olatutu Oladunni practically threw the Court into commotion as she hijacked proceedings from her Counsel, Ajibola Akinwale, insisting that, she must present her case before the Court to the embarrassment of the Counsel.
The drama started when the Claimant’s Counsel Salami Agbaje informed the Court that the 1st Claimant and the elected Chairman of the Lagos Chapter of SWAN, Adebowale Olajire Oshundun has been subjected to a series of Police harassment, intimidation, Arrests, and the continued threat of arrest at the instance of the Defendants.
Praying the Court to intervene and protect the liberty of the 1st Claimant, Agbaje said: “My lord, on the authority of Ojukwu v. Governor of Lagos State, once parties submitted their grievances before the Court no party should take any further step in the matter.
Since the pendency of this suit, the 1st Claimant has been arrested by the Lagos State Police Command’s Human Right Unit, the command’s Special Investigation Bureau (SIB) and now under serious threat of another arrest by the police on bogus charges in order to further intimidate him.
He noted that it was due to the forceful take over of the Lagos Chapter of the SWAN secretariat that led to the Claimants instituting the suit.
Responding, the Defendant’s Counsel said on the contrary the Claimants were the ones resulting to self-help. He alleged that the Claimants have been trying to force their ways into the secretariat.
The Defence Counsel was yet to finish his submissions when Olatutu jumped to her feet and demanded that the Court should listen to her. The Defence Counsel signalled to her to sit down, she ignored the Counsel and said: “I will present my case, my life is under threat, the DSS, the Police, the Security agency have the reports. He is the one threatening me”.
The trial judge Honourable Justice M.N Esowe calmly signalled to her to let the Court intervene. She ignored the Court’s directives, as she said that the Court must listen to her.
At that point, the Court could no longer tolerate her outburst and audacity and directed the Court’s security men to lead her out of the Courtroom.
As the two Court orderly approached her and told her to leave the Court, she resisted and said: “ I must be respected, I must be respected”. She was eventually bundled out of Court to the relief of everybody in Court.
Lawyers in Court openly expressed their disgust at her unruly conduct which they described as contempt.
However, an obviously embarrassed Defendants’ Counsel profusely apologized to the Court and fellow lawyers in Court.
In its ruling, the Court ordered that both the Claimants and the Defendants to stop any further action and maintain status quo until the Court decides the suit.
Adebowale and five other members of his executives instituted the suit against the members of the caretaker committee and others including the Nigeria Union of Journalists and SWAN.
The Court has adjourned the matter to October 17th 2022.