➥ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Shodeinde v. The Registered Trustees of The Ahmadiyya (1983) – SC
by PipAr Chima
Supreme Court – SC.64/1982
➥ JUDGEMENT DELIVERED ON:
Friday, the 4th day of November, 1983
➥ AREA(S) OF LAW
Change of association name;
➥ NOTABLE DICTA
⦿ COURT DOES NOT SET CONTRACT FOR PARTIES – IT ENFORCES THE AGREEMENT
No court ever makes a contract for any party or group once the plaintiffs and their followers have agreed to be bound by the constitution of the Movement exhibit 1, they must be prepared to act within its provisions and cannot expect any help from the court to act ultra vires the provisions of what they have agreed to be bound sic. This is precisely the position of the court in this case. The plaintiffs and their followers agreed to give overall control to the executive committee as the government of the Movement as well as power to amend the said constitution … Whilst the court concedes to any body or group be it domestic or otherwise the right to have access to the court for the redress of any wrong no remedy will be available to an applicant where the act complained of is in accordance with the agreement between the body or group. – Obaseki, JSC.
⦿ A THING IS DONE IN GOOD FAITH WHEN DONE HONESTLY
In my view a thing is done in good faith or bona fide where it is in fact done honestly whether it is in fact done negligently or not. – Obaseki, JSC.
⦿ JUDICIAL NOTICE OF THE FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM
The Five Pillars of Islam are 1. To testify and believe that there is no God except Allah and that Mohammed is the Messenger of Allah. 2. To perform the prayer (Five Times) regularly. 3. To pay the legal alms (Zakat, one time yearly). 4. To fast (in the month of) Ramadan, (every year.) 5. To perform the Pilgrimage to the Holy House of Allah (at Mecca once in a life time). – Obaseki, JSC.
⦿ IT IS DUTY OF PARTIES TO PUT THEIR FACTS BEFORE THE COURT
It is not for this Court to embark on an investigation to which it has not been called. It is the duty of the parties to put their facts before the courts in order for a judicial decision to be pronounced, both on the facts and the law involved. – Sowemimo, JSC.
➥ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
⦿ FOR THE APPELLANT
Mr. G.O.K Ajayi, SAN.
⦿ FOR THE RESPONDENT
Chief F.R.A. Williams SAN.
➥ CASE HISTORY
The claims endorsed on the amended writ of summons filed on the 8th day of December, 1976 read, inter alia: “1. A declaration that the resolution passed by the executive committee of the Ahmadiyya Movement-in-Islam on the 12th day of May, 1974 whereby it purported to change the name of the Movement to Anwar-ul-Islam Movement is null and void and is not binding on the plaintiffs.
These proceedings were provoked by the split in the ranks of the Ahmadiyya Movement-in-Islam following the change of name from Ahmadiyya Movement-in-Islam to Anwar-ul-Islam. Because of the prominent role played by the 2nd to the 7th defendants, the plaintiffs who strenuously opposed the move for the change of name regarded the 2nd to the 7th defendants as apostates to their faith and decided to recover all the properties of the Ahmadiyya Movement-in-Islam from their possession and control.
On completion of pleadings by the parties the matter came up for hearing before Ademola Johnson, J. At the conclusion of the hearing he delivered a considered judgment dismissing the plaintiffs’ claims in their entirety.
The Plaintiffs appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal dismissed the Appeal.
In his lead judgment Ademola, J.CA observed, commented and found as follows “Let me say straightaway that this court is not concerned with the wisdom or the unwisdom of the change of name in this case; all what the court will be interested in is whether the constitution of the Movement exhibit 1 permits such a change and whether in so doing the change of name has radically altered the fundamental objectives upon … which the Movement was founded. It is the constitution of the Ahmadiyya Movement as amended up to 1963 that will be the guiding document in my approach to this case. Reading through exhibit 1 as I have done, there can be no question in my mind as to the position of the executive committee of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam. All other organs of the Movement are subordinated to it.”
➥ ISSUE(S) & RESOLUTION
[APPEAL: DISMISSED, WITH N300 COST EACH FAVOURING THE RESPONDENT]
I. Whether or not the executive committee has power to effect a change of name of the association?
RULING: IN RESPONDENT’S FAVOUR.
A. The evidence disclosed that the performance of the pilgrimage to the Holy House of Allah at Mecca was the dominant consideration amongst others that motivated the executive committee to the course of action to effect the change of name from Ahmadiyya Movement-in-Islam to Anwar-UI-Islam. Is this evidence of bad faith or good faith? I think it is evidence of good faith.
B. When in 1943 the Movement renounced its belief in the prophet-hood of Ghulam Ahmad it is reasonable to hold that it must have been in the contemplation of the members that some day the name will be amended to reflect the shift of emphasis from belief in the prophet-hood. The amendment that the executive committee made by the resolution of the 12th of May 1974 was not an exercise in the transformation of the Movement by the destruction of its fundamental ideals, aims and objectives. It did not take the Movement away from its pursuit to learn, teach and propagate Islam. Instead it has sought to entrench the Movement in the practice of the Islamic religion.
C. If the performance of the pilgrimage to the Holy House of Allah (at Mecca once in a life time) is a pillar of Islam and the government that holds the key to Mecca would not permit entry to Mecca except the name “Ahmadiyya” is dropped, in my view once Art. 88 of the Constitution permits the executive committee to amend the constitution and the amendment does not alter the faith especially the belief in Ghulam Ahmad as the Promised Messiah, I am satisfied that the executive committee acted in good faith in altering the name of the Movement.
A. Indeed, the name “Ahmadiyya” is taken from the last name of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. To change the name of the Movement is a first step to removing the said clause one from the constitution, especially having regard to the virulence with which some of the protagonists of change denounced Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. It is not surprising, therefore, that the majority of the Movement completely rejected the proposed change. Indeed, we have been told that the Movement as a result sacked the Babatunde Jose executive committee and replaced it with a new one. Be it noted that in clause 2 of the constitution the aims and objects of the Movement “are to reform the Muslim world morally, intellectually, socially, religiously and spiritually …” through the norms exemplified by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. If that be so how can one change the name and remove the name of the person who is regarded as the standard bearer of the Movement and still claim not to make a fundamental change? It appears to me that this is a case in which a minority, albeit powerful and vocal, is oppressing a majority. It is accepted that the vast majority of the Movement was opposed to the change. Having failed to get the Movement to accept the change, the executive committee resorted to the power of amendment.
B. The funds and properties belonged to, and continued to belong to, the Ahmadiyya Movement-in-Islam. The amendment of the name by the executive committee being Improper, nothing of the funds and properties goes to the new name, Anwar-ul-Islam. The funds and properties had been held by the executive committee in trust for the Ahmadiyya Movement-in-Islam. It has no power to convey, in breach of the trust, the funds and properties to a new organisation known as Anwar-ul-Islam. Any purported change, or transfer of the title to the funds and properties, to Anwar-ul-Islam is clearly void and of no legal effect.
➥ MISCELLANEOUS POINTS
➥ REFERENCED (STATUTE)
➥ REFERENCED (CASE)
➥ REFERENCED (OTHERS)
Article 88 of the Constitution reads “Any alteration and/or amendment in and, additions to this constitution shall be made by the executive committee.”