Mission Schools: Refer Case To Arbitration Panel, Ogun Tells Court


The Ogun State Government today prayed an Abeokuta High Court to refer the case on government’s take over of schools to an arbitration panel for adjudication.


The case with suit No. AB/161/2011, filed by the Nigerian Baptist Convention and other Christian bodies, was seeking to take back the schools which the state government had taken over.


The present government under Sen.Ibikunle Amosun recently announced the take over of 23 mission schools earlier returned to their former owners, the Christian bodies, by the Otunba Gbenga Daniel administration in 2009.


P.M.NEWS also recalls that the court had on 28 June adjourned the case till today to give the defendant time to study the case file and respond accordingly.


At the resumed hearing today, Mrs Adesola Shobayo of the state Ministry of Justice, said there was an agreement between the state and the former owners of the schools that whatever differences the owners and the state might have, would be resolved by an arbitration panel.


Shobayo said it was unfortunate that the plaintiff did not exhaust internal means as stipulated in the agreement before heading for the court.


The defence counsel, who cited Section 5 (1) of the Arbitration Code, therefore, prayed the court to refer the matter to an arbitration panel for adjudication.


She also asked the court to stay proceedings pending the outcome of the arbitration panel’s decision.


“Where there is a valid contract between parties and they have agreed that they will be bound by arbitration in time of crisis, it is the duty of the court to respect the agreement between the parties.


“We must first exhaust the remedy available to the parties before coming to your lordship,” she said.


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However, counsel to the complainant, Mr Bambo Adesanya, said the call for arbitration was frivolous and had no basis or relevance to the case.


He submitted an application for an order of interim injunction, restraining the government from taking over the affected schools.


The order also sought to restrain the government from interfering in the management and affairs of the schools, pending the determination of an order of interlocutory injunction filed on 5 July.


He said that the interim application had become necessary because the government had continued to interfere in the affairs of the schools.


Adesanya argued that the interference was a flagrant disrespect for the court, adding that the government had fixed a date and conducted screening for students into the affected schools.


Adesanya, who also alleged that the action of the government was deliberate and he presented a copy of the form to court to support his claims.


“They have been served with the court proceedings and hearing summons since 29 June, and they still went ahead to conduct exams for students into these schools.I will urge your lordship to answer the prayers of so many men of God in this court by granting an order of an interim injunction,” he prayed.


In her ruling, Justice J. Saula, ordered that the state government should not take any step pending the determination of the ruling on the application for stay of proceeding brought by the defence counsel.


She, thereafter, adjourned the ruling on application for stay of proceeding as well as further hearing till 21 July.


—Abiodun Onafuye,Abeokuta

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