1st February, 2022
By Suleiman Shehu/Chidinma Ewunonu-Aluko
An Oyo State High Court in Ibadan on Tuesday dismissed a suit filed by Otun Olubadan of Ibadanland, Sen. Lekan Balogun, challenging the invalidation of his right to wear a beaded crown.
Balogun and seven other High Chiefs of the Olubadan-in-Council jointly sued the state government for denying them their rights to wear beaded crowns.
The Claimants are: Balogun of Ibadan, High Chief Akinloye Olakunlehin; Osi Balogun, High Chief Tajudeen Ajibola; Ashipa of Ibadan, High Chief Eddy Oyewole; Ashipa Balogun, High Chief Lateef Adebimpe among others.
The previous administration of Gov. Abiola Ajimobi had set up a Commission of Enquiry to amend the 1957 Chieftaincy Declaration of Ibadanland and elevate the High Chiefs to beaded-crown Obas.
However, Sen. Rashidi Ladoja, the Osi Olubadan and a member of the Olubadan-in-Council, had rejected the elevation and instituted a suit to challenge the constitution of the committee and the government’s action.
In Jan. 19, 2018, the trial judge handling the matter, Justice Olajumoke Aiki, nullified the elevation, describing it as null and void.
The Ajimobi-led administration, however, appealed the judgment at the Court of Appeal in Ibadan and the appellate court set aside the judgment of the lower court and ordered a retrial.
On his assumption of office in 2019, Gov. Seyi Makinde, instead of going ahead with the retrial of the case, entered into a consent judgment with Ladoja, which resulted in an agreement to forgo the idea of wearing beaded crowns.
The High Chiefs, dissatisfied with consent judgment because they were not parties in the case, therefore, rejected the terms of settlement.
They subsequently approached the court to seek the nullification of the consent judgment, saying it violated their rights to wear beaded crowns as vested upon them by the law.
At the hearing of the suit on Tuesday, counsel to the High Chiefs, Kehinde Eleja (SAN), informed the court that they had filed an application for the discontinuance of the suit.
Eleja said that the respondents had been served with the application and urged the court to grant his prayer in the interest of peace and justice of Ibadanland.
He urged the court not to dismiss the suit, but to strike it out.
Counsel to the state government, Mr Sanya Akinyele, confirmed the receipt of service and did not oppose the application for withdrawal.
Mr Kehinde Owoade, Counsel to Ladoja, also confirmed receipt of the application and urged the court to award a cost of N500,000 against each of the claimants.
In his judgment, the Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Munta Abimbola, dismissed the suit and awarded no cost.
Abimbola said that the Court of Appeal had set aside the ruling of the lower court and ordered a retrial; therefore, the judgment of the Court of Appeal stands and takes effect perpetually until otherwise decided by a superior court.
“This suit has been applied to be withdrawn and I will not hesitate to grant the withdrawal; the suit stands withdrawn unconditionally and status quo before the commencement of all proceedings stand.
“The effect is that there was no change in the Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration of 1957 since there was a ruling that the Commission of Enquiry was not determined appropriately.
“The composition is irregular and steps taken upon are irregular and remain invalid,” he said.
Abimbola said that the Oyo State Government could go ahead with the installation of a new Olubadan, adding that there was no suit preventing the installation.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that by this judgment, the coast to install Balogun, the Olubadan-elect, is now clear.