James Sowole in Akure
The aged-long legal tussle between the two traditional rulers in Ikare, the headquarters of the Akoko North East Local Government Area of Ondo State, has finally been resolved as the Court of Appeal sitting in Akure, the state capital, dismissed the suit filed by one of the monarchâ€™s against the other.
The court struck out a suit filed against the recognition of Owa-Ale, of Ikare, Oba Kolapo Adegbite-Adedoyin by the Olukare of Ikare, Oba Saliu- Akadiri Momoh.
Momoh had in the suit challenged the recognition of Owa-Ale as a monarch in the same town with him.
The appellate court panel led by Justice Obande Ogbuinya ruled that the appeal CA/AK/103/2011 instituted by the Olukare, Oba Akadiri Saliu-Momoh and five members of his family against Owa-Ale and the Ondo State Government lacked merit, an abuse of judicial process and the case was status barred.
The unanimous court judgement read by Justice Danjuma held that Olukare lacked legal ground to challenge the chieftaincy status of Owa-Ale as a monarch in Ikare, considering various laws such as the Public Officers Protection Law, Cap 103, Volume 5, Law of Ondo state 1978 and Section 4(1a) of the Limitation Laws Cap 61, Laws of Ondo State 1978.
The court subsequently resolved three issues raised by the appellants for determination in favour of the three respondents- Owa-Ale, state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice as well as the state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
Preceding the appellate process, Justice D.I. Kolawole of the Ondo State High Court in Akure had on July 26, 2011, held in a suit no: Ak/260/2010, that the case was an abuse of court process, status barred and that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
Not satisfied with the judgment, Olukare and others through his appellants, their lawyer, Mr. Dele Adesina, had filed the appeal against the verdict of the state high court, praying the appeal court to declare Owa-Ale chieftaincy as illegal and to compel the state government to stop recognising him as a monarch in Ikare-Akoko.
In their counter arguments, counsel to the state Attorney General, the state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Akeredolu and the lead counsel to Owa-Ale, Olawale Ijatuyi had urged the appellate court to dismiss the appeal since similar case had been resolved in favour of Oba Adedoyin in 2009.
The defendantsâ€™ counsel also argued that Owa-Ale was recognised under the 1976 Chieftaincy Law, in the judgments of the state high court in suit no: AK/43/81 and AK/171/2007 while the 1999 White Paper on the report of Justice Adeloye Commission also listed â€˜Owa-Aleâ€™ title among recognised Obas in Ondo State.
After listening to both counsel, the appellate court dismissed the suit, describing it as abuse of court process.