Ladoja, Balogun Drag Ajimobi to Court over Plan Reforms on Olubadan

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Ademola Babalola in Ibadan

Two prominent members of Olubadan-in-Council, High Chief Lekan Balogun and High Chief Rashidi Ladoja, who are Otun and Osi Olubadan respectively, have dragged Governor Abiola Ajimobi to court over his plan to tinker with the 1957 Chieftaincy Law.

The 1957 chieftaincy Law among others, stipulates succession order to the throne of the Olubadan of Ibadanland. Ajimobi is planning a new law to make room for more beaded crowns in Ibadan because of its current cosmopolitan nature.

But Senators Ladoja and Balogun, would have none of that as they are asking the state High Court in the suit number m/317/2017 to restrain the seven-member Judicial Commission of Inquiry from sitting, accepting any memorandum or in any way taking any step in furtherance of its assignment, pending the determination of motion on notice in respect of the subject.

Ajimobi, on May 19, inaugurated the judicial panel headed by retired Justice Akintunde Boade, with the mandate to, among others, review the existing requirement and qualification for ascendancy to the throne of the Olubadan and submit its report in four weeks.

In the suit filed by their counsel, Michael Lana, on Friday, the Otun and Osi Olubadan contend that the judicial panel said by Ajimobi to have been constituted under Sections 10, 12 and 25 of the Chiefs Law 2000 was invalid, as the governor lacked the power to change or amend the customary law relating to the selection of Olubadan.

The claimants said the primary aim of the Chiefs Law was that traditional institutions must be guided and operated not in accordance with modern dictates as argued by the governor but by the customary rules of each community.

They contend that only the Chieftaincy Committee which made the 1957 Olubadan Declaration and which must be peopled by recognised chiefs and not any judicial commission could amend the law.

They added that the certain situations, including insufficient description of Olubadan selection process, must exist to warrant such amendment.

“Before setting up the commission, the governor never said that any of the situations happened to the 1957 Olubadan Declaration that has been used seamlessly without conflict, dispute or rancor to enthrone successive Olubadans.

“The provision relating to the declaration is mainly to put the customary law into written instrument in the custody of the government and not that it gives the government the right to change the customary law relating to a chieftaincy to suit its own purpose.

Apart from the alleged illegality of the commission, the claimants said only two members of the panel are Ibadan indigenes, adding that it was improper for non-Ibadans to determine the fate of Ibadan indigenes on issues relating to the emergence of the Olubadan.

“That Ibadan has issues with Oyo over the Council of Obas and one of the members of the commission, Prince Wasiu Gbadegesin, is in line to the throne of Alaafin of Oyo and will therefore be biased against the peaceful and rancor-free method of selecting the Olubadan of Ibadanland,” affidavit in support of the claimants’ ex parte application said.