Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja
A Lokoja High Court, on Tuesday, ordered Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State not to proceed further on the planned coronation of Chief Solomon Owoniyi as the new Obaro of Kabba pending the determination of the case.
The court also insisted that the said Owoniyi must not parade himself as a paramount ruler of Kabba pending the determination of the case.
Governor Yahaya Bello had, on July 27, appointed Owoniyi as the new Obaro of Kabba following the death of Oba Michael Olobayo in May 2016.
The Ilajo Royal family, consisting of three ruling houses, vehemently rejected the choice of Owoniyi as the new Obaro on the ground that he was not from the royal family and was just “a commoner in a suburban community of Kabba and was therefore not fit to become a Paramount ruler”.
The Ilajo Royal family, which accused the governor of playing politics with the sensitive issue of tradition and cultural values of Owe-Kabba kingdom through the appointment of the new Obaro, thereafter, approached the court for redress and a High Court presided over by Justice M. M. Gwatana consequently granted the prayers of the claimants by granting them an interlocutory injunction restraining Chief Owoniyi from parading himself as the new Obaro.
When Obaro nominee with a fraction of Kabba chiefs led by the Speaker of Kogi state’s House of Assembly, Mathew Kolawole, paid a courtesy call on the governor during the Sallah celebration, the governor was quoted to have said that the interlocutory injunction restraining Owoniyi has been vacated and that a new Obaro would be coronated in the second week of September, this year.
But when the motion on interlocutory injunction came up at the court, on Tuesday, Counsel to the Claimant, Chief Haruna Rabanah ( SAN) drew the attention of the court to the fact that the first Defendant (Owoniyi) went ahead to carry out some traditional rites in spite of the court order restraining him from parading himself as the new Obaro and said this amounted to contempt of court.
But Counsel to the first Defendant M. A. Aliu (SAN) quickly objected to the submission of the Counsel to the Claimants and said his client did not, at anytime, disobeyed the court order restraining him, but that the said traditional rites had long been carried out before the court order actually came.
Ruling on the motion, Justice Gwatana said the status quo should remain and ordered that Chief Owoniyi should not parade himself as the new Obaro of Kabba pending the determination of the case.
He also directed the State Counsel to write a memo to the governor through the Office of the Attorney- General intimating him of the court’s decision by stopping the governor from carrying out the planned coronation next week until the final determination of the suit.
The judge also urged the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Nasir Ajanah, to re-assign the case to another court, which will, in turn, fix another date of hearing as he was on vacation leave.