Osun court fumes over appointment of new Aree, orders Oyetola, others to stop further action

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BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO

Uba Group

An Osun State High Court sitting in Ikirun has ordered the state governor, Gboyega Oyetola, Commissioner of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Adeleke Adebayo and other government functionaries to stop further action on the purported appointment of new Aree of Iree, in Boripe Local Government Area of the state.

The government had announced the appointment of Prince Raphael Oluponle Ademola as the new Aree of Ireeland despite that the kingmakers had filed a suit against appointment of warrant chiefs.

The five kingmakers including Chief Olufemi Afolabi (the Ojomu of Iree Land), Chief Sobalaje Alao, (the Osolo of Iree Land), Chief Saliu Atoyebi (the Aogun of Iree Land), Chief Sanusi Babawale, (the Inunrin of Iree Land) and Chief James Adebisi Bankole, (the Jagun of Iree Land) approached Ikirun High Court with a motion ex-parte for interim injunction and urged the court to order stoppage of further action on the Aree stool.

The defendants in the motion are the Osun State Governor, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Special Adviser to the Governor on Chieftaincy Matters, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and Mrs Serifatu Adebayo, the appointed warrant chief.

An affidavit in support of motion ex-parte for interim injunction was filed on October 27, 2022 while the defendants were served on October 28 before the court fixed Tuesday for hearing.

None of the defendants filed any process or reacted to the prayers of the plaintiffs.

At the hearing of the matter on Tuesday, a Director in the Ministry of Justice, Kayode Titiloye, was said to have represented the defendants.

Delivering ruling on the motion, the presiding judge, Justice I. O. Adeleke, expressed displeasure over the manner the state government disregarded the suit it was served against the appointment of warrant chiefs and went ahead to conduct election of the new monarch.

Adeleke, then, ordered that the defendants should cease further action on the appointment and installation of Aree of Iree pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice served on them.

The judge said: “The best person on any society is the one who respects the right of others. The one who will not venture into doing that which can be challenged legitimately. Obedience to the rule of law is for the good of the society at large. All the defendants in this case (1-5) are hereby ordered to stay further action on the facts in issue in the case before the court.

“In the interest of justice, fairness and sanctity of judicial process, the defendants should stop further action on the appointment and installation of Aree of Iree pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice served on the defendants.”

The matter was adjourned till November 22 for the hearing of the motion on notice.

Addressing journalists after the court sitting, counsel to the five kingmakers, Isaac Olaide, said the implication of the order is that there wouldn’t be gazette on the purported selection and that the government wouldn’t present the monarch with staff of office until final determination of the suit.

Olaide said, “Because the kingmakers refused to do the biddings of the Osun State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Adebayo Adeleke, otherwise known as Banik, he now wanted to appoint warrant chiefs for all of them. The kingmakers said you can only appoint warrant chiefs when those who wanted to conduct election refuse to do so. In this case, the kingmakers were ready but they said the Commissioner can’t influence their actions.

“They said they wanted to do it freely because three or four people filed nominations from ruling houses, so they needed to do election. But Ponle Ademola insisted that he should be the one they should elect. Because we (kingmakers) are aware that they want to do that, we filed a suit against appointment of warrant chiefs and that was on 27th of October, this year and they (defendants) were served on 28th October. The Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Attorney General of Osun State, Femi Akande, the Governor and even the Special Adviser on Chieftaincy Affairs. They had not appointed warrant chiefs as at that time.

“The law is that once you have been served with such a thing, you stay action, even if there is no injunction. They don’t need to wait for injunction because they were served with writ of claim and motion to stop them from appointing warrant chiefs. So, going ahead to appoint same warrant chiefs is like you are disregarding court processes and that’s why the court was very angry while granting our order. Even when the case was fixed for hearing, they were served with the hearing notice since last week November 3 but on the 4th November, they went ahead and purportedly elected an Aree of Iree by warrant chiefs, using the same warrant chiefs we were trying to attack from court.

They have forced on the court a fate accomplished, that means they have said we have done what we want to do, court, do your worst. It’s a misconception of the law that if there is no injunction, you can go ahead. No! Once you are already served with the suit and a motion for injunction, you have to stay action, that’s how to respect the rule of law. If you go ahead to do it, then it means you have pitched yourself against the court.

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“The court now ordered that henceforth, everything that has to do with the stool of Aree should be stopped. This further means that the State House of Assembly will stop issuance of gazette and the state government won’t present staff of office to the purported Aree,” he said.