Court Bars Estate Valuers’ Incorporated Trustees From Sanctioning 4 Members

A Lagos Federal High Court today, restrained the Incorporated Trustees Of Nigerian Institution Of Estate Surveyors And Valuers (NIESV) and the President of the institute, from interfering with the right to practice as licensed Estate Surveyors and Valuers of four members of the body.

The court also restrained the institute and it’s president, their privies, officers, agents or anyone howsoever described from publishing on any social media platform or forwarding to any newspaper agency for the purposes of publishing in any of the national/widely read dailies/newspapers, the findings/conclusions contained in the investigative report of the Institute dated January 27, 2023 and the letters dated January 31, 2023, pending the hearing and final determination of the motion for interlocutory injunction brought against them by the three members of the institute. 

The court also made an interim order injunction against the Institute, it’s president, their agents, servants and or privies from giving effect to the letters all dated January 31, 2023 issued by the Institute, purportedly expelling the three members of the Institute, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice  filed against them.

Justice Akintayo Aluko, who presided over the court, made the above order of interim injunction, while granting the motion filed and argued by Dr. Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), counsel to three members of the Institute in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/191/2023.

Four members of the Institute, ESV. Richard Olodu; ESV. Oyedepo Olalekan; ESV. Afolabi Lewis Emmanuel and ESV. Abraham Akinropo, asked the court for the above orders, in their motion Exparte brought before the court Pursuant to Orders 26 and 28 of the Federal HIGH Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019 and under the court’s inherent jurisdiction.

The four applicants in their affidavit deposed to by the first applicant, ESV. Richard Olodu, stated that he became an Associate Member of the first Defendant in March 23 2012, and that he is currently the Assistant Honorary National Publicity Secretary of the first Defendant whilst he know for a fact that the second ro fourth plaintiffs hold or have held positions as the current Chairman of Kwara Branch, past Publicity Secretary of the Lagos Branch 2005/2007 and Secretary, NIESV Electoral Committee 2011/2012 and past Assistant Secretary, NIESV Electoral Appeal Committee 2016 respectively.

He stated that he knows for a fact and through his interactions with the defendants that since their admission into the first Defendant as members, they have at all times demonstrated the highest uprightness expected of honourable members of the first defendant without any record of disobedience to or infringement on the dictates of the Constitution, Rules and Bye-laws or of any conduct likely to breach the common purpose of the association.

He averred that following the need to discuss certain issues relating to the first defendant’s upcoming elections, the Financial members of the first defendant forwarded a petition to the first defendant with a view to summoning an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting (EGM) of the first Defendant. And that in fulfilment of the requirements, the members of the first Defendant who so desired to summon the Extra-Ordinary collated signatures of the Financial Professional members of the first Defendant, however, for a plethora of reasons, the EGM of the first Defendant could not hold.

He averred that surprisingly, after the attempts to hold the EGM, the second defendant who had by then formed the view that the EGM was an attempt to ensure free and fair election which was not going to be in the interest of his sponsored candidates, thereby engaged in calling and threatening some members who signed the convocation of the EGM. Upon becoming the President of the first Defendant, the second defendant instigated the Council of the first defendant to investigate the allegation of signature forgery in the cause of convocation of the EGM of the first defendant.

Based on the above, the deponent stated that on July 30, 2022, the Council of the first defendant purportedly approved the constitution and appointment of members of an investigation panel all of whom were personally nominated by the second defendant in his Inaugural Speech against the Council known norms of nomination at the floor of the Council. And that sequel to the constitution of the purported investigation panel, invitation letters were sent to the Plaintiffs to appear before the purported investigation panel. Adding that following the purported deliberations by the investigation panel, on January 27, 2023, the panel purportedly reached conclusions expelling them as members of the first Defendant. 

The deponent stated that based on the defendants’ action, they they instituted a main suit which commenced by Originating Summons to challenge their purported expulsion as members of the first Defendant. And that on the account of their case in the substantive originating summons that the purported constitution of the investigation panel and all the resolutions reached thereafter ought to be nullified, quashed, set aside and invalidated on the grounds amongst others that: “That the Constitution of the purported investigation panel for the purposes of investigating the purported allegations of forgery against the Plaintiffs is an attempt to usurp the powers of the Nigerian Police and the various High Courts to investigate and determine criminal matters. 

“Until the allegations of forgery have been investigated and determined by the Police and the appropriate Court of law, any investigation by the first Defendant is premature and hasty. 

“Without prejudice to (a) and (b), by the relevant provisions of the 1st Defendant’s Constitution, only the Professional Practice Committee of the 1st Defendant is vested with the powers to investigate and appropriate sanctions in relation to any professional practice complaint levelled against any member of the first defendant.”

The deponent stated that there is need for Court intervention and that unless the defendants are restrained, pending the hearing and determination of the motion for interlocutory injunction, the defendants will give effect to the panel reports and their suspension letter issued by the defendants.

He also stated that unless restrained, pending the hearing and determination of motion for interlocutory injunction, the defendants will proceed to publish the purported investigation report over several social and print media as discreet investigation by the Plaintiffs reveal that the defendants have perfected plans to do so. “Unless restrained, pending the hearing and determination of motion for interlocutory injunction, the Defendants will likely interfere with the Plaintiffs license to practice as Estate Surveyors and Valuers thereby rendering any eventual judgment this Honourable Court more deliver in favor of the Plaintiffs as nugatory. And if not urgently restrained pending the hearing and determination of motion for interlocutory injunction, defendants actions will cause untold economic hardships on them and their families.

He further stated that “if not urgently and expediently restrained pending the hearing and determination of motion for interlocutory injunction, the publication of the purported investigation panel in the national dailies and or any social media platform will affect their economic opportunities as prospective/current clients may likely debrief them. 

Meanwhile, Justice Aluko after granting the order of interim injunction, adjourned the matter till February 23, for hearing of the applicants motion on notice.