By Lukman Olabiyi
One of the litigant, 2019, Prince Akeem Ajasa in the suit challenging the installation of Oba Gbolahan Lawal as the Oniru of Iru land in June 2020 has expressed worry over the apparent snail pace of the case pending before Justice Safari J.
Recall that in December 2019, Ajasa, a Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, was allegedly chosen as the Oniru-elect to succeed the late Oba Abiodun Oniru, who died on September 23, 2019, at the age of 82.
However, Ajasa’s declaration as the Oniru-elect suffered a major setback when the entire Omowunmi Abisogun ruling family house rejected his announcement saying that his branch, the Ewunmi branch and other branches of Abisogun ruling house are strangers and not of royal lineage.
The Omowunmi branch of Abisogun ruling house proceeded to institute a suit by Afusatu Kabiawu and Suraju Durosimi and one other (as representatives of the Abisogun ruling house, Omowunmi Abisogun Oniru chieftaincy family.
In the case filed on 31/12/2019, with suit No: LD/6681GCMW/2020, Kabiawu claimed that Omowunmi Abisogun Oniru is the only branch of Abisogun ruling house of Iru royal family. He claimed in a declaration that the succession to the Oniru chieftaincy family is hereditary and Abisogun ruling house is next to nominate a candidate.
But amid the disagreement, the race to fill the vacant stool took a new twist by May 2020, when the State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, installed Prince Gbolahan Lawal, also from Ewunmi sub-branch of Abisogun ruling house, a former commissioner in Lagos state.
Lawal was consequently sworn in on June 8, 2020, amid lingering disagreement and a court order challenging the stool and a court relief seeking a restrictive injunction against the state government.
Ajasa, through his lawyers, proceeded to file a statement of defence dated December 1, 2020, which was thereafter regularized by the court on December 9.
Ajasa also filed a motion, dated December 18, seeking to join former governor of the state, Bola Ahmed Tinubu as well as Oba Lawal as parties to the suit as defendants to the counter-claim earlier raised in the defence.
The said motion was strictly resisted by Lawal, through his counsel, Chief Ayorinde SAN.
But 18 months after, the motion is still pending and has not been heard.
Ajasa’s lawyers again filed a motion dated February 3, 2021. The motion sought several prayers including; the declaration that the stool was vacant at a point in time when the matter was instituted; that the state government proceeded to install Lawal while the suit was pending and sub-judice, and that the installation be set aside and the vacancy of the stool be maintained.
The court had on April 7, 2022 heard arguments on whether it could suspend the hearing of the preliminary objection filed on March 5, 2020 by the state government until after the hearing of the substantive case and adjourned the matter till 30/06/2022 for ruling.
But according to Ajasa’s lawyer, Ishola Agboola ( “on June 30, 2022 when parties reconvened in court to hear the ruling, they were informed that a further date for the ruling was not ready and that a further date for the delivery of the ruling will be communicated.”
Meanwhile, recently, Kabiawu declared her intention to withdraw the suit against the monarch during their reconciliation meeting.