Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Tension now pervades Ibadan and environs following an Oyo State High Court judgment which nullified the exercise that led to the emergence and installation of 21 new Obas in the city last year.
Justice Olajumoke Aiki of the State High Court declared the review of the existing 1957 Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration and other Related Chieftaincies in Ibadanland by the Oyo State Government as unconstitutional, illegal, null, void and of no effect.
The judgment was delivered in the case filed by the Osi Olubadan, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, who is a former governor of the state, against Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, and Justice Akintunde Boade, the chairman of a judicial commission of enquiry that reviewed the declaration.
But, Governor Ajimobi, in a swift reaction, disclosed that his government would appeal the judgement.
The white paper on the report of a judicial commission of enquiry set up by the governor was published in the Oyo State Gazette No. 14, Vol. 42 along with the amended declaration regulating the selection to the Olubadan and Ibadan chieftaincies and related matters in August 2017.
The process culminated into the installation of 21 new kings in Ibadanland by the government on Sunday August 27, 2017 at the Mapo Hall Arcade, Ibadan with fanfare. The 21 new kings comprised eight members of the Olubadan-in-Council elevated from ‘High Chiefs’ to beaded crown-wearing monarchs, while the remaining 13 are village heads (Baales) promoted to coronet-wearing obas.
Ladoja, who refused to accept the beaded crown, had filed two cases against the review , one of which was with his immediate senior on the Otun Olubadan chieftaincy line, Oba Lekan Balogun, who is the Otun Olubadan and most senior chief on the Otun line. Balogun backed out of the case later, prompting Ladoja alone to file the second suit.
In the second suit, Ladoja asked the court to set aside the report of the commission, which the first action was to have restrained from sitting and prayed the court to nullify its proceedings and reports.
The court, in the judgment held that wearing of beaded crowns was beyond the purview of Sections 10,12 and 25 of the Oyo State Chiefs Law, stating that Section 25 of the chiefs law could not be treated in isolation to the provisions of Parts Two and Three of the Chiefs Laws.
The court also said provisions of Parts Two and Three of the Chiefs Laws, particularly Sections 10, 12 and 25 did not give power to the governor to review the Olubadan chieftaincy declaration, restraining the government from accepting and implementing the reports of the judicial commission of enquiry.
The governor, according to the court, exercised his power beyond the constitution and the provisions of the chiefs laws made by the House of Assembly, adding that a judicial commission of enquiry could not amend or further amend, review or further review the chieftaincy declaration.
Counsel to Ajimobi, Mr. Nurudeen Adegboye, in an interview with journalists after the judgment said: “The judge has invested a lot of effort, energy and precious judicial time on the judgment. Though we hold a different view from the view of the judge or the court, the court’s view is the one that is binding. So, we have applied for the copy of the judgment. We will look at it again and based on the instruction of our client, because it is our client that has the right to appeal or not, if he gives us the instruction or if he feels he wants to accept the judgment, it is left to him.”
Also, Mr. Babatunde Akinola, who stood in for the lead counsel to the claimant, Mr. Michael Lana, told newsmen simply that the judgment was okay.
But, Governor Ajimobi, while commissioning a block of classroom, donated by former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation under former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN) for Community Secondary School, Ajara, at Ajara township in Lagelu Local Government in Ibadan, said the state government would challenge the judgment.
He said: “Today’s judgement on the Olubadan Chieftaincy review will be appealed immediately. We have embarked upon the exercise, not for joke, but for the good of Ibadan and the people therein. We will not relent in making Ibadan great and the greatness shall come from various ways, one of which is the review exercise. You should not expect people to accept change and radical policy for that matter, but we shall get there. We will not allow the forces of retrogression to overtake the progress Oyo State is making.”