31st March, 2011
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has dismissed the suit filed by popular Nollywood actor, Emeka Ike, against the National President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Segun Arinze and other members of the guildâ€™s Board of Trustees (BOT).
After about three adjournments, Emeka Ikeâ€™s suit was eventually thrown out by Justice Mohammed Idris, for what was termed lack of merit and jurisdiction.
The decision, however, came as a relief for members of AGN, who have been anxious to know who will eventually emerge the authentic president of the guild.
In a release issued by Abubakar Yakub, the publicist of Segun Arinzeâ€™s faction, the crisis rocking the guild for some time now has come to an end with the court upholding Arinze as the authentic president.
According to Abubakar, â€œEmeka Ikeâ€™s suit against Segun Arinze and the BOT of AGN has been thrown out of court by Justice Idris of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, thereby reaffirming Arinze as the only authentic president of AGN.
â€œA similar cas filed by Chuma Nwudiwe was equally thrown out by the same court on 7 March, this year and with this landmark judgment, peace seems to have finally returned to the Actorsâ€™ Guild of Nigeria.â€
However, when NollywoodReel called Ike on phone, he claimed that the battle between him, Arinze and the BOT is far from being over.
According to him, â€œwe are still in court. It was just that my lawyer made a mistake by not filing some names properly and we are currently working on it. So the case is not over yet.â€
Since the suit with number FHC/L/CS/1216/2010 was filed on 28 January this year by Emeka Ikeâ€™s lawyer, Malcolm Omirhobo, there had been anxiety among members over the fate of Arinze and the BOT members.
This was because in one of its sittings, the presiding judge was reported to have said that if the defendants were eventually found guilty of the offence pressed against them, he would not hesitate to jail them according to the law.
In the suit, Emeka had prayed that the court should declare an election conducted by the other faction of AGN on 7 January, 2011 null and void. He also prayed that the court should compel the BOT to appear and explain why disciplinary action should not be taken against its members for conducting an election when there is a pending court ruling that status quo should be maintained.
Presiding on the case then, Justice Idris said he would give the accused parties a benefit of doubt to prove their innocence before taking necessary action, adding that he would not hesitate to send the defendants to jail if they were eventually found guilty of the offence at the end of hearing the application.
But counsel to Segun Arinze, Barrister Ezenwa, told NollywoodReel that his client was not part of the election in question.
According to him, the election was conducted by the Lagos State chapter of the guild and not the national body headed by Segun.
â€œSegun never conducted any election and we have documents to prove that. It was a mere allegation from Emekaâ€™s lawyer. We have complied with the courtâ€™s order that no election should be conducted pending the hearing of the case in court, so it is not true that Segun conducted an election,â€ Barrister Ezenwa said.
On Friday, 7 January, 2011, an election conducted by filmmaker Theodore Anyaji, saw Emeka Rising-Ibeh emerge as the new chairman of the Lagos State chapter of AGN.
The election was held at Calabar Hall, Surulere.
The crisis in AGN started some years back, when Ejike Asiegbu, the former National President refused to vacate the seat or conduct a fresh election and the BOT headed by Prince Ifeanyi Dike, bowing to pressures from members, suspended him and appointed veteran actor, Kanayo O. Kanayo, as interim president.
WhenÂ Ejike realised that Kanayo was planning to organise an election, he quickly went to Port Harcourt and conducted an election that saw Segun Arinze emerge as president. He also went ahead with a parallel election through which Emeka Ike was made factional president.
However, the drama took a new twist when Segun Arinze surrendered his mandate to the BOT, saying that he wanted peace to reign and consequently, the guild decided to form a government of national unity that was agreed to be headed by Arinze.
But Ike, Kanayo and some other members were not in support of the decision.