GHANDI: Court delivers landmark judgment
GHANDI: Court delivers landmark judgment
A High Court sitting in Ogbomoso has given a landmark judgment in one of the cases challenging the appointment of a new Soun of Ogbomosoland in court.
In the ruling delivered Monday Justice K. A. Adedokun dismissed a suit filed by three family members of Olaoye ruling house who were seeking to be joined as defendants in a case filed by one of the contestants, Prince Kabir Muhammed Olaoye, challenging the nomination of Prince Afolabi Ghandi Olaoye by the kingmakers as Soun-elect.
The three applicants Alhaji Wahab Oyetunde, Alhaji Oladiti Bello and Prince Nureini Olaoye, had filed an application to join in the suit as 13th, 14th and 15th defendants.
Prince Kabir Olaoye had in July went to court seeking a relief among others to set aside the nomination of Ghandi as Soun-elect on the ground that he, Kabir, is the most eligible candidate for the throne on the ground that his great father, Oba Oke Lanipekun Olaoye, was the last Soun from the Laoye ruling house (1944 – 1952), and as such is the most qualified of the candidates in accordance with the Chieftaincy Laws and Soun Chieftaincy Declaration which stipulates that only a direct son or grandson of a previous Soun can succeed to the throne.
Prince Kabir, an engineer, averred that his father being a direct grandson of Oba Oke Lanipekun should automatically be the next Soun since he is the only grandson still living.
He therefore sought in the first instance an interlocutory injunction against Ghandi from being installed as Soun or parading or representing himself as such, pending the final determination of the suit, which the court granted having ordered status quo be maintained.
Meanwhile, the three applicants seeking to be defendants in the suit hinged their prayer on the need to protect their interest in the matter, “An Order of this Honorable court joining the applicants as 13, 14″ & 15th defendants to this suit” and “And for such further order or other orders as this Honorable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.”
The first to 12th defendants are the Executive Governor of Oyo state, Attorney General of Oyo state, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Ogbomoso North local government, Traditional Council of Ogbomoso North and Prince Amos Olawole Olaoye (JP) (Mogaji Olaoye Ruling House Of Soun Chieftaincy, Ogbomoso),
Others are Chief S. O. Otolorin JP (Areago of Ogbomosoland and chairman, kingmakers Of Soun Chieftaincy, Ogbomoso), Chief Salawu Ajadi (Jagun Of Ogbomoso/kingmaker), Chief Tijani Abioye (Baara of Ogbomoso/kingmaker), Chief David Adeniran Ojo (Ikolaba/kingmaker), Chief Yusuf Kasali Oladipupo (Abese of Ogbomoso/kingmaker) and Pastor Afolabi Ghandi Oladunni Olaoye (Soun-elect).
The application is premised on 20 grounds and supported by an affidavit of 22 paragraphs deposed to by the 3 applicants.
The applicants’ counsel Taye Olaniyi Esq. argued his clients had the right to join as defendants to defend the interest of the Olaoye Chieftaincy Screening Committee, which later opposed the nomination of Ghandi on the ground that the process that purportedly produced him was hijacked by Ogbomoso North local government officials and the kingmakers to impose him.
However counsels to both the claimant and the 6th to 12th defendants, Dapo Atanda Esq. and Kolawole Fatoye Esq. respectively opposed the application.
Arguing the case on Monday Dapo Atanda urged the court to refuse the application. He made specific reference to the facts that the Mogaji Olaoye Chieftaincy Ruling House of Soun of Ogbomoso is already sued as the 6″ defendant and as such represents any interest of the Olaoye Ruling House or screening committee (being its chairman).
His other arguments are that ”the application is defective as it failed to comply with Order 13 Rule (17)(2) of the Oyo State High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2010, the affidavit in support of the application is not only defective but incurably bad particularly paragraph 2 thereof as the deponent has no consent of the claimant, the undertaking purportedly signed by parties cannot be a bar to their rights of access to court and that the existence of Olaoye Chieftaincy Screening Committee is unknown to law and therefore the applicants are “busy body” who have no claim against the claimant,” therefore praying the “court to dismiss the application with substantial cost against the applicants.”
Kolawole Fatoye Esq in opposing the application also urged the court to dismiss the application on the grounds that the 6th defendant is the chairman of the Olaoye Chieftaincy Screening Committee and he is already a party.
He hence noted, “At best the applicants are necessary witness and not necessary parties,” placing reliance on Federal Housing Authority V Olayemi & Ors (2017) LPELR 43376 – CA.), and that “looking at the statement of defense filed by the applicants, the witnesses listed and whose depositions are filed were not members of the purported Olaoye Chieftaincy Screening Committee. That Section 15(1)(b) Chiefs Law of Oyo State does not give the committee power of screening: therefore, the applicants are meddlesome interloper.”
Based on these arguments, he prayed the court to dismiss the application with cost of 50,000.00 against the applicants in favor of the 7th, 8th 9th, 10 & 12″ defendants.
Olaniyi nonetheless opposed the arguments replying that Order 13 Rule 17 referred to by the claimant’s counsel was cited out of context as the applicants have complied with the tenor of that provision; and that the applicants are necessary parties and not necessary witnesses.
He further submitted that the 6th defendant was sued in his personal capacity and not as a member of Olaoye Chieftaincy Screening Committee.
He emphasized that the process was successful “up to the point of inviting the local government as observers and witnesses and the presentation of the shortlisted candidates to the kingmakers. It was at that point that the local government officers hijacked the process and took it upon themselves to decide who qualifies to be presented to the kingmakers.
“The assignment of the committee is not yet over because the process they were given mandate by the Olaoye Ruling House has not been completed. This made it expedient, necessary and compelling for the applicants to be joined to enable the court hear their side of the story and for the court to effectively, credibly and completely adjudicate upon and to resolve all the issues involved in this suit.
“The applicants are seeking to be joined because they believe they have legal rights to be protected for their names, integrity, reputations and the overall interest of their family are at stake.”
This position meanwhile tallies with the claimant’s as basically he is challenging the nomination of the 12″ defendant (Ghandi) and “the alleged manipulated process that produced him, as such the claimant has no relief against the parties sought to be joined and they equally have no reliefs against the claimant. In other words, the applicants are not aspirants to the vacant stool of Soun of Ogbomoso and their interests were never in jeopardy and the reliefs of the claimant is not in any way against their interest as they never took part as aspirants in the selection process.”
In giving his ruling Justice Adedokun who said he had considered all arguments by the counsels particularly noted among others, “One wonders why the applicants who were members of the committee not known to law are crying more than the bereaved. As members of that committee, they were to be impartial and having done their own part, they should allow any of the aspirants to contest the propriety or otherwise of either anything done by the committee or thereafter by the local government officials in a court of law while they serve as witnesses.
“Never the less, the reason adduced to me is insufficient reason to be joined as co-defendants to this suit and I cannot find any other cogent reason in the averments in the affidavit in support of this application to warrant the exercise of my discretion in favor of granting the application.
“In the unlikely event that my finding is incorrect, at paragraph I of the letter above- referred to, the applicants stated thus: ‘We the undersigned Prince Olawale Amos Olaoye; Prince Wahab Oyetunde; Prince Olaoye Nureni; Prince Tajudeen Olapade; Prince Lasisi Oyediji; Prince Oladosu Oyegoke Olaoye: Prince Hamzat Oyeyemi; Prince Mukaila Olaoye; Prince Saheed Saka; Prince Oladiti Bello and Prince Kazeem Oyerogba are the 11 appointed members of the chieftaincy committee with the Magaji as the chairman of the committee and the rest of us chosen from each of the 10 branches of the Laoye Ruling House of Soun of Ogbomoso Royal Dynasty and are writing in respect of the above subject matter.’
“The said protest letter was co-authored and signed by the 6th defendant (who is the Magaji and the chairman of the committee). Even Exhibit A attached to the counter- affidavit which is the report of the screening committee of Laoye Ruling House of the Soun of Ogbomoso land Royal Dynasty) contained the fact that the 6″ defendant (Prince Amos Olawole Olaoye, Mogaji) shall be the chairman of the committee. What interest does the applicants have in this suit that will not be protected by the 6″ defendant?
“I therefore agree with the claimant/respondent’s counsel as well as Learned Counsel to the 7, 8, 9, 10th & 12th defendants/respondents that the Mogaji Olaoye Chieftaincy Ruling House of Soun of Ogbomoso is already sued as the 6″ defendant and he has represented any interest of the Olaoye Ruling House. As such, the applicants are, at best necessary witness and not necessary parties and I so hold…”
“In view of the foregoing undoubted legal position, and the cause of action borne out by the averments in the claimant’s statement of claim, I hold that the applicant parties seeking to be joined are better described as a necessary witness but not necessary party. Accordingly, the application is dismissed for lacking in merit.”
He went ahead to award costs against the applicants.
The original suit is meanwhile adjourned till January 18, 2023.