- 16-year-old suit seeking to unseat him crumbles
By Akinwale Akintunde
A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja yesterday upheld the enthronement of Rilwan Akiolu as the valid and lawful Oba of Lagos.
Justice Adebowale Candide-Johnson dismissed the suit filed by two princes of Lagos, seeking to dethrone him as the Oba of Lagos, on the ground that they failed to prove their case against the traditional ruler.
The two Princes, Adedoyin Adebiyi and Rasheed Modile, who are both of the Akinsemoyin ruling house of Lagos, had dragged Akiolu to court (16 years ago) to challenge his installation as the Oba.
Adebiyi and Modile were candidates chosen by their ruling house to contest the Obaship in 2003 after the demise of Oba Adeyinka Oyekan, Akiolu’s predecessor on the throne.
However, they lost out to Akiolu whom they alleged had no rightful claim to the throne.
The duo of Adebiyi and Modile are claiming that Akiolu was not entitled to ascend the throne because he is not a member of a ruling royal family by virtue of not being a direct descendant of Oba Ado, the first Oba of Lagos.
According to the claimants, only members of the Ologun Kutere and Akinsemoyin ruling households were entitled to the throne.
They also alleged that proper customary rules and procedures were not followed when Akiolu was appointed as Oba in May 2003.
The then Lagos State governor, state Attorney General, Prince Babatunde Akitoye and Chief Junaid Eko, head of the traditional white cap chiefs of Lagos, were joined as respondents in the suit.
Other respondents include Prince Kola Balogun and Mr. Musibau Kelani, who are head and secretary of the Eshilokun royal family, respectively.
In a judgment that lasted about two hours, Justice Candide-Johnson held that the court lacked the powers to upturn the long established custom of over 200 years for enthroning the Oba of Lagos.
The judge also held that where a statute had given jurisdiction to tribunal to adjudicate on, the High Court shall only assume a supervisory role.
“The claimants alleged that the Solanke Tribunal submitted a report in 1976, which stated that the Obaship stool is by rotation. None of the claimants produced a copy of the report in court.
“The claimants failed to provide concrete or credible evidence of the alleged rotation of the two ruling houses.
“The claimants claimed the Akiolu branch of the Ologun Kutere line had gone into extinction. The third defendant (Akiolu) in his evidence was able to trace the lineage of his stool.
“The evidence of the claimant’s witnesses were full of contradictions. From the totality of the evidence before the court, I hereby pronounce His Royal Majesty Oba Rilwan Akiolu, as the valid legitimate Oba of Lagos.
“The case of the claimants is hereby dismissed”, Candide-Johnson held.
The judge also noted that it had been 233 to 239-years since a lineage of Oba Akinsemoyin was able to become Oba of Lagos.
“For 200-years, all the Obas of Lagos trace their lineage to Oba Ado and not Akinsemoyin.
“A burden of the Akinsemoyin descendants has been to succeed the throne of the Oba of Lagos and this suit is reflective of that.
“I hereby hold that the obaship of Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos is legitimate, lawful and valid”, the judge ruled.