EKITI, Nigeria – A High Court sitting in Ado Ekiti has claimed the jurisdictional power to try a case challenging the selection and appointment of the new Oore of Otun Ekiti, in Moba Local Government area of Ekiti State, Oba Adekunle Adeagbo.
The declaration came to the fore following the ruling of the court dismissing the preliminary objection filed by the defendants, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit opposing the Oba’s appointment.
Following the appointment of Oba Adeagbo as the new Oore last year, the claimant, Mr. Atolagbe Adeleke, from Obajeu ruling house, had approached the court and sought the nullification of the 1961 declaration used in the selection process, having been nullified by the Supreme Court in its verdict of 1995.
But the defendants had objected to the trial of the case, saying the claimant failed to comply with the 1961 declaration, which mandated that local settlement of chieftaincy issues in the town before resorting to litigation.
Joined in the Suit Number HAD/28/2020 were the Governor of Ekiti state(1st), the Deputy Governor(2nd), Attorney General(3rd), Secretary, Moba Local Government(4th), Obanla of Otun Ekiti, Chief James Adeniran Odeniyi(5th), and Mr. Atere Forunsho of Ile-Iyaaba ruling house(6th).
In its ruling, the Presiding Judge, Justice Abiodun Adesodun formulated two issues for determination, asking whether the court has the jurisdictional power to entertain the case and whether the case has been statute-barred or not.
The Jurist clarified that the Ondo State High Court in 1995, in Kolawole vs Military Governor of Ondo State, nailed the coffin of both 1961 and 1984 town’s Chieftaincy declarations, by their outrightly nullification.
Justice Adesodun added that the then High court’s decision was affirmed by both the Appeal and the Supreme Courts.
According to him, “Section 6(2) of the Chiefs Law Cap C5, Laws of Ekiti State, 2012 Provides in part: “No registered declaration amended or new declaration made under section 5 shall come into effect until it has been re-registered or registered as the case may be in accordance with subsection (1) of this section.
“The first to fourth defendants failed to state that the 1961 declaration on Oore of Otun was re-registered following the registration of the 1984 declaration to replace the same.
“The defendants have laboured in vain in placing heavy reliance on the 1961 declaration which has been dead and buried in December 1984.
“I also have enough evidence before me that the claimant sought the option of local settlement before filing this suit. And the fact that the 1961 declaration had been nullified makes it difficult to claim that the suit was statute-barred.
“The court hereby dismisses the preliminary objection filed by the state government and other parties involved in the matter for lacking in merit”.
Counsel to the claimant, Barr. Olakanmi Falade said the 1961 declaration upon which the defendants based their arguments and through which the selection was done was of no effect and had been nullified by the High, Appeal and Supreme Courts.
“What the court did was to dismiss the preliminary objection filed by the first to sixth defendants and what they asked the court to do was to dismiss our case before the court that it was of no merit, but the Court says our case has merit, and that the 1961 declaration they are basing their case upon is of no effect and had been nullified by the Supreme Court, and that our case is not statute-barred”.
However, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Olawale Fapohunda, said the court didn’t nullify the selection process, but only dismissed the preliminary objection filed by the defendants in the suit.