By Barr Ben C Kalu Part 1
In Suit No. FHC/ EN/ CS/ 120/ 2017 BETWEEN REV “PROF” PAUL EMEKA VS INCORPORATED TRUESTEES OF ASSEMBLIES OF GOD, NIGERIA. PART OF THE JUDGEMENT OF THE COURT which has not yet been appealed or reversed or controverted READS “AN ORDER PERPETUALLY restraining MR. IFEANYI CHUKWU OKONKWO Aka. “Onwa” who has described himself in this SUIT as COMPANY DIRECTOR, laymen of No. 14 Ishielu Avenue, Independence Layout , Enugu, 08033607907 Enugu from Preparing, Signing and Filing any Originating process and pleadings on behalf of any other person whatever other than himself unless and until he is registered to Practice Law in Nigeria as a Legal Practitioner.” To this effect the Registered Trustee is through this Medium giving a last warning to the said Ifeanyi Okonkwo NEVER TO MENTION that name ASSEMBLIES OF GOD NIGERIA either in any print media or electronic media or Social Media or any other form of Media. The publication made in one unpopular BLOG called PM NEWS is both illegal, unlawful , Scandalous , defamatory and also an affront to the name and Legal personality called “ASSEMBLIES OF GOD NIGERIA” Referring to REV “PROF” PAUL EMEKA as a subsisting Gen. Supt of AGN is without the express approval and consent with the TRUSTEES. The suit he referred to as subsisting and valid (E/82/2014) does not have the Registered Trustees of AGN as a party therefore what ever expired Exparte Order that states that they should revert to STATUS QUO ANTE BELLUM has no binding effect on AGN, what ever he used to be before the crisis started referred to his personal status, probably as a husband, a father, an Nsukka man etc Never to a party that was not SUED. Still on the subject matter whether as OBITER DICTUM or as Ratio Decidendi , the appeal court stated as follows…
The name “Assemblies of God Nigeria” is a legal entity and a corporate name. The name of the body shall be that described on the certificate of Incorporation. As such, this body (Assemblies of God Nigeria) is a NATURAL PERSON in law and must necessarily be identified by a name approved by an established law. Only by and under such name (Assemblies of God Nigeria) may the corporation sue or be sued and do all legal Acts. Any act done with similar names are regarded to be illegal. It is also illegal for any publication of such to come up without express permission from the Registered Trustees of Assemblies of God Nigeria.
The court has ruled and, until such ruling is set aside, its binding force is still subsisting. In FHC/UY/CS/36/16 (Rev Anselem Efiong, Emma Ude & 13 Ors. For themselves and on behalf of the members of AGC Nigeria, South-South Zone I, comprising of all districts in Awka Ibom State). The court sternly refuted the claimants request to use and parade with this corporate name Assemblies of God Nigeria. Court reiterated that claimants lack locus to institute the suit since they are not the national officers (Trustees or District Officers of the Church) court also stated that claimants have chosen membership of another group which is different from the 1st defendant and therefore lack locus and sufficient interest in the subject matter of the case.
Also in Registered Trustees of Assemblies of God Nigeria, Rev. Dr. Paul Emeka, Rev. Solomon Debunsha and Steve Bubagha Vs. Rev. Dr. Livinus Joshua, Rev. Goodie Mebine, Rev. Ikechukwu Benneth (YHC/5S/2015) court directed and discountenanced Solomon Debunsha, Steve Bubagha & Ors of their claims and directed that Solomon Debunsha, Steve Bubagha & ors should refrain from Rev. Dr. Paul Emeka instituting or parading such corporate name; since Rev. Dr. Paul Emeka, wherein they derived their authority (his case) has been determined in favour of the Registered Trustees of Assemblies of God Nigeria. Court also warned the claimant that they lack locus standi to institute or continue any suit on behalf of the Registered Trustees of Assemblies of God Nigeria.
Also by virtue of a new certificate of incorporation dated 30th April 2015; Rev. Dr. Paul Emeka has been removed by Corporate Affairs Commission as a trusted he is no longer a Gen. Supt. And also no longer a member of the Board of trusties. Thus, anybody still parading or claiming to derive his authority through or from Rev. Prof. Paul Emeka is standing on northing. In fact in the language of the Court. You cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand. The suit was summarily dismissed and Solomon Debunsha with others were mandated to pay a cost of N50,000.00.
Also in HKN/6/2016 Deacon David Udokang & 9 Ors. vs Rev. E. A. Essien & Ors., the claimant were praying the court for an order for the status quo ante bellum to be maintained pending the settlement of the leadership crisis as they cannot function or operate in the face of factionalized general council, which the 3rd and 4th defendant are laying claim. The court also vehemently held that the claimant have neither juristic personality, nor locus standi nor a reasonable cause of action. That case was also summarily struck out.
The power to sue and be sued in the CORPORATE’S name and the effect of un-incorporation in Amodu Rufai Shitta & ors Vs. Mamodu Ligali & Ors. (1941) 16 N.L.R 23; where twelve persons regarding themselves in the writ as the “executive of the central mosque” purported to sue in that capacity. It was held that the committee was nothing more than a collection of individuals and had no capacity to sue or even make publications with that corporate name (Emphasis mine).
Thus was held not to be a juristic person. See also Martins Vs. Administrator General (1963) L.L.R 65; The proposition that an action or any legal transaction is only maintainable by a legal person has been clearly brought out in the above decisions. Finally in the locus clasicus of Apostolic church Illesha Vs. A.G. (Midwest) (1972) 4 S.C. 150. The court held that the corporate status of a body is established by the production of its certificate of incorporation. By implication and application any person or group of person whether on representative capacity, their heirs, privies, agents and in whatsoever name like (one Ndu Nwamuo, One Sunday Ogirima, and the illegal Attorney Ifeanyi Okonkwo ) narrating issues about the church is both misrepresenting, contemptuous and in fact an affront to the rulings of the court as stated above. Such persons should first produce its certificate of incorporation. The current and only certificate of incorporation that is Valid bears the names of the Trustees and these names appearing in the certificate are the only names vested with authority to do such lawful transactions, publications, litigations and other business thereto. Further transactions, publications, litigations without authority of the Trustee shall not only attract prosecution but shall also call for severe legal action with horrible damages.
An unincorporated body cannot sue or be sued. In Onitsha A.F.A Vs. Onitsha A.F.A (1967) N.C.L R. 329 where Justice Oputa J. (as he then was) said:
The real question is what is the legal status of the plaintiff in this action and could it bring this action even if the action were against a separate and distinct defendant? Ordinarily only legal persons can sue or be sued…”
……Apart from natural human persons, the other species of legal persons are incorporated bodies like companies. The mere act of Registration does not impart legal personality to an un-incorporated body (see Bloom Vs. National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized sailors and soldiers (1918) 35 L.T.R. So.
Individual members without capacity cannot sue to redress their grief. But where it is a joint action differences in interest may defeat the suit. Companies and allied matters Act prohibits the registration of a company/organizations with a name which is identical with that of a company/organization that is already in existence or so nearly resemble that name as to be calculated to deceive – Niger Chemist ltd Vs. Nigeria Chemist (1961) All NLR 171. By this we are Saying that rather than continuing in an endless litigation it is proper and wiser to open a new church probably “TST INT’L” but not AGN and leave the name and property of Ag intact.
An existing company or organization in the course of being dissolved may signify its consent to the use of its name. However, in this case the (Registered Trustee of Assemblies of God Nigeria) has not signify its consent to the use of its name.
A name where in the opinion of the commission, would violate any existing trademark or business name registered in Nigeria unless the consent of the owner of the trademark or business has been obtained.
Any publication in the name of Assemblies of God Nigeria without the due consent of the registered trustee is an aberration of the above stated rules, principles and laws. As such it is illegal, unwarranted, and calls for immediate rejoinder. The said name is reserved and should remain sacrosanct for the exclusive use of the registered trustees especially for lawful transactions.
An organization such as this may alter any other provisions in the Memorandum of Association of the company/organization; the alteration of which is not specifically provided for in the Act.
If the memo states that the registered office will be situated at Plot R8 Ozubulu Independence Layout Enugu, the clause need to be altered before such a place or state is changed. Any other thing apart from what is stated above amounts to illegality and lawlessness. The insinuations or mere claim of change of headquarters or registered office is an exclusive reserve of the registered trustees. If Rev. Paul Emeka is hiding at AGC Uwani church as his office should not be a subject of public discuss; for it violates the principles of Companies and Allied Matters Acts. Issue of a change/alteration of an organization’s registered office or headquarters. Also making a head line out of such daisy issue amounts to passing off” i.e. an (illegitimate use of a corporate name, registration, publications, litigations, alterations of such names; all boarders on unlawful use with intent to deceive the public into believing that such name or identical name that is already in existence or so nearly resemble are one or same in function, purpose or activities. The law remains that such names or alterations of names; alterations of registered offices must be done with the express consent of the registered trustees of the organization. It is capable of misleading as to the nature or extent of the activities of the company/organization or undesirable, offensive or otherwise contrary to public policy; it is also the opinion of the commission (CAC) capable of violating any existing trademark or business name registered in Nigeria unless the consent of the owner of the trademark or business has been obtained.
The trial court found in the favour of Rev. Dr Paul Emeka hence the officers of the church appealed to the court of appeal (Enugu division) presided over by – Massoud Abdulrahman Ordeola JCA, Emmanuel Akomaye Agim JCA and Misitura Omodere Bolaji – Yussuf JCA in Appeal No: CA/E/10/2015.
Judgment in the appeal was delivered in favour of the officers representing the church and the entire judgment of the trial court was set aside hence the status quo reverted to the removal and ex communication of Rev. Dr Paul Emeka from the Church. The appeal of Rev. Dr Paul Emeka against that judgment of the court the appeal was dismissed in its entirety while the judgment of the court of appeal was affirmed. The court of Appeal held that the office of the general superintendent of the church is not an enforceable right of Rev. “Prof” Paul Emeka see page 99 to 111 of the judgment of the court of appeal. Thus
Let me straight away state that the right to continue to head or lead the church as general superintendent of the church as a voluntary religious body is not a personal right of the respondent. It is a right belonging to the church. Majority of whose members voted him into that office in November 2010 to head the church. It is not the exclusive personal or private right of the respondent.
From pages 102-105 of the judgment, the court of appeal held that the removal of Rev. Dr Paul Emeka as the general superintendent of the church is the valid decision of the majority of the members of the church which is non justiceable;
From page 107 to 109 of the judgment, the court of appeal held that the decision of the general committee dismissing the respondent as minister and suspending him as member of the church is valid and that the respondent is bound by the constitution and regulation of the church and that he can choose not to remain a member if he does not want to be bound by the rules of the organization and the decision of the majority member of the organization;
The Supreme Court never disturbed or set aside these decision of the court of appeal; it is trite law that a decision or decisions of a court which have not been set aside remain valid and binding on all person and authorities including the courts. In spite of all these Rev. Dr. Paul Emeka has continuously threaten to use endless litigations. To disorganized, provoke, annoy the church. To the general public, when a matter is struck out, it automatically means that a party has been declared a winner.
It is also Obvious that until a court Order, rulings or Judgment is vacated, such Order, Rulings or Judgment remains Subsisting and that remains the position of the Court.
All Persons or Institutions shall Comply with the Judgment till it is vacated. Probably, I may refer you to see the following cases for Verifications. ( UNILORIN VS ADESINA NO1. (2008) ALL FWLR (PT 404) 1534 at 1548, para C-D.
Worthy of Note, is that in the Suit that went to Supreme Court , Registered Trustees of AGN, as a legal personality was not made a party. Therefore the judgment or ruling or directive does not have binding force on the Church. The Trustees of the Church by virtue of the CERTICATE OF INCORPORATION have unhindered, unfettered, unrestricted power and Control Over the Properties of the Church/ Organization. The Only reason to Make a person ( a party in a Suit) is so that the JUDGMENT / ORDER of the Court shall have a binding effect on such parties; in the instant case, it is a personal Suit and all other Orders ( If any does not have a binding effect on a non – party. See Case of ( peanok Investment Ltd Vs Hotel Presidential; Amon Vs Rapheal Truck and Sons Ltd. Lajumoke Vs Doherty ( the purpose of Joining a party is to bind the parties who ought to be bound by the decisions of the Court in a proper case , the court can join a 3rd party as a Co-defendant even against the wishes of a Plaintiff.
In summary while Rev “Prof” Emeka continues in his endless litigation against the Church, the TRUSTEES of the church shall stop at nothing in executing the judgments of the court against any person(s) tampering with that name AGN either in any form of Media outlets or tampering with its properties. Long live AGN