The Supreme Court in Abuja on Monday struck out a suit filed by the Ekiti State government challenging the Court of Appeal’s ruling that nullified the appointment of Ganiyu Obasoyin as the Olukere of Odo Oja community in Ikere Ekiti.
The suit filed number SC/NO/SC/CV/1177/2022 was withdrawn by the state government after Governor Biodun Oyebanji took over from Dr Kayode Fayemi, who had granted autonomy and staff of office to the Olukere on October 8, 2021.
The apex court upheld the Appeal Court’s ruling that declared the appointment of Olukere as illegal, null and void, and affirmed the authority of the Ogoga of Ikere Ekiti, Oba Adejimi Adu, as the paramount ruler of the town.
The Appeal Court led by Justice Oyebisi Omoleye had also ordered Obasoyin to stop parading himself as monarch and pay N200,000 to Oba Adu Adejimi as fine, and directed the Chief Judge of Ekiti State to re-assign the case to another High Court Judge for fresh hearing de novo.
Oba Adu had dragged the state government to court over the autonomy granted to Odo Oja, a section of Ikere Ekiti, and the creation of a new Oba for the community. He argued that the action violated the chieftaincy laws and customs of Ikere Ekiti.
On June 20, 2022, the Court of Appeal in Ado Ekiti set aside the ruling of the High Court of Ekiti State that had struck out the names of the Attorney General and Governor of Ekiti State from the suit filed by Oba Adu. The Appeal Court held that they were necessary parties to the suit and that their exclusion led to the illegal appointment of Obasoyin as Olukere.
However, the state government appealed to the Supreme Court to challenge the Appeal Court’s ruling. The appeal was slated for hearing on November 21, 2022, but it was withdrawn by the state government on October 18, 2022, two days after Biodun Oyebanji was sworn in as governor of Ekiti State.
The notice of withdrawal read: “Notice of Withdrawal of Appeal (order 8, Rule 6) “TAKE NOTICE that the appellants herein intend(s) and both hereby wholly withdraw their appeal against the respondents in the above-mentioned appeal dated this 18th day of October 2022.”
The Supreme Court’s decision is a victory for the Ogoga of Ikere Ekiti and the traditional institution of Ikere Ekiti. It is also a setback for the Ekiti State government, which had been trying to create a new chieftaincy title in Ikere Ekiti.
The Supreme Court’s decision is a reminder that the traditional institutions of Nigeria are important and should be protected. It is also a reminder that the courts will uphold the rule of law, even when the government tries to interfere with traditional institutions.