*orders status quo ante-bellum

*decision taken outside a formal NBA meeting at an Awka beer parlor

An Awka High Court presided over by Justice Joe Iguh yesterday waded into the leadership crisis currently rocking the Awka branch of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA).

Justice Iguh who is the administrative judge of the state, after considering the submissions in the exparte application brought before his court yesterday in the suit ref A/M/109/2012 between Chief Stanley Mbanaso Vs Chief JC Ajekwe and 5 others, ordered that status quo ante-bellum be maintained until the hearing and final determination of the substantive suit.

Chief Mbanaso, according to Chief John Iguh who was his predecessor was allegedly removed last Saturday as the chairman of the Awka branch of the NBA for “high handedness and many other issues”.

But the chairman told reporters shortly after the court hearing yesterday at the premises of the state Judiciary Headquarters in Awka that he went to court to seek redress as a law-abiding citizen. According to him, “some members of our branch last Saturday ganged up and purport to have removed me and my executive, without a formal meeting of the branch or fair hearing from me or any of my executive. We are men of law and not unruly market women, there must be decorum and we have a process with which we conduct our affairs.”

In his reaction a senior member of the bar in the state, Chief Fidelis Anyanegbu noted that “this was an act by a few disgruntled members who chose to embarrass the branch and the profession clinging to what they claimed to be acts by the chairman that they did not like. Moreover, there was no meeting of the branch and only 13 out of about 485 members of the branch cannot meet and take unlawful decisions on behalf of the other members; it cannot stand the justice and fair play”, he noted.

Anyanegbu pointed out that the allegations were never investigated or the chairman given a hearing. But that some persons who they even doubted their identity teamed up and gate-crashed on the issue like market women to say they have removed the executive.

Mbanaso also noted in his 2-page press statement that the plot started far back last month(Aug 26-31) when he travelled to Abuja for the 2012 Annual General Bar Conference when some concerned members called to alert him of on-going plot spearheaded by three named members, most of who ran for the chairmanship but lost, to surreptitiously remove him. He was therefore shocked that on Sept 1, 2012 when they were on their way back from the conference, these persons gathered at a corner in Awka to spread the information that he has been sacked from being the branch chairman.

A member who refused his name in print dismissed the removal story as illegal, as “our meetings were never held in a beer-palour.”

However, Mr Iguh told reporters that their action stands.

The matter has been adjourned to Sept 10, for hearing of the Motion on Notice.