By Bayo Aka.
Kogi State High Court of Justice sitting in Lokoja has dismissed in its entirety the suit instituted by the Ilajo Ruling family of Kabba against the appointment of HRM Oba Solomon Dele Owoniyi, the Obaro of Kabba.
Justice S O Otu who presided over the suit also upheld the preliminary objection raised by the defendants, Obaro Solomon Owoniyi, Governor Yahaya Bello and Kogi State Attorney-General against the claimants, Chief Henry Aiyewumi, Chief Stephen Bebeyi and others on behalf of Ilajo family.
The claimants had upon the appointment of Obaro Owoniyi as the Obaro of Kabba by Kogi State Government in 2018 approached the court that it was unlawful for the government to have appointed Owoniyi who is from Odolu, saying only the Ilajo Ruling Family of Kabba could ascend the Obaro stool despite the existing edicts of 1989 and 1995 which spelt out expressly the rotational order of ascendancy to the throne when vacant.
The presiding Judge ruled that the suit was premature by dint of the failure of the claimants to exhaust the domestic remedy prescribed under Section 6(1) and (2) of the Kogi State Chiefs (Appointment, Deposition and Establishment of Traditional Council) Law, 2006.
Justice Otu also said that the claimants are bound by the unchallenged reports of the Judicial Commissions of Inquiry on the Obaro of Kabba Chieftaincy and the attendant report of Edict No 6 of 1989 as well as extant Edict No 12 of 1995 declaring the native law and customs on ascendancy to Obaro of Kabba Chieftaincy has become law that could not be held in abeyance.
He averred that the Ilajos ought to have challenged the law as of the time of signing it into law but they slept over it.
According to him, the Ilajo family did not complain on the wrongful act in 1995, they took no step when the law became operational.” Not having challenged the alien custom and tradition introduced by Law No 12 of 1995 about 24 years ago meant they slept over their right”, he said.
The Judge noted that law No 12 of 1995 became the only existing law and declaration of tradition and custom relating to the selection of an Obaro of Kabba.
Against this background, the judge said the reliefs sought in the suit are statute- barred by virtue of Section 2(a) of the Public Officers’ Protection Law of Kwara State (as applicable to Kogi State) and Section 18 of the Limitation Law of Kwara State (as applicable to Kogi State), having filed the suit two months after cause of action arose.
“The claimants may have a cause but their right to challenge that law cannot be maintained in this court. It is statue-barred by virtue not only of S 2(e) of public officers (protection)law but also by virtue of S 18 of the limitation Law of Kogi State.”
The erudite judge also noted that Chief Aiyewumi lacks the locus standi to institute the suit when he was not selected nor his name forwarded to the selectors/kingmakers for the Obaro Stool for selection as Obaro, either pursuant to Edict No 12 of 1995 or whatever native law and customs. He therefore pointed out that the suit disclosed no cause of action against the defendants and is fatally vitiated by the failure of the claimants to join the selectors/kingmakers, Obadofin and Obajemu,who selected the 1st defendant as the Obaro in the suit.
“With the above findings and holding, it is of no mount considering the other grounds of objection on the whole the preliminary objection is upheld and I hereby dismiss the claimants suit in its entirety,” Justice Otu ruled.
Reacting to the judgment, a stakeholder in Kabba, Chief Hassan Taye Ejibunu said that the learned Judge has done justice to the case.
According to him, the judge supported his judgment with cases delivered by the highest Court in the land, the Supreme Court.
He commended the Judge’s brilliant disposition and his painstaking research and congratulated all Owes.