By Tony Nwankwo
The legal battle between Chief Mike Nwaukoni of Ugbekide,Â Agidiase family and Chief Collins Afuwa of Umu-Uti family, on who becomes the rightful Iyase (traditional prime minister) of Ogwashi-Uku Kingdom has been resolved byÂ the Court of Appeal, Benin, Edo State.
The court in its judgement by Justices Shoremi, Gumel and Omoleye, declared ChiefÂ Nwaukoni as the rightful Iyase of the Kingdom. The court overturned the judgment of an Asaba High Court, by allowing the appeal with N30,000 cost.
This means that ChiefÂ Nwaukoni, whose installation was challenged remains the authentic Iyase of Ogwashi-Uku Kingdom.
In 2005, ChiefsÂ Arueze and Collins Afuwa, for and on behalf of themselves and Umu-Uti family of Agidiase,Â had challenged the installation of Nwaukoni by the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku as the Iyase, after he (Nwaukoni) had performed the necessary rites for the position.
In that suit, the plaintiff had sought a declaration that only Umu-Uti and Umu-Ugbekide sub-families of Agidiase are entitled to be installed Iyase of Ogwashi-Uku and therefore challenged the selection, approval and installation of Chief Mike Nwaukoni as Iyase of Ogwashi-Uku.
The plaintiff, in that suit, had relied on traditional history of primogeniture, before a shift to rotation between the sub-families of Ugbekide and Uti.
Parading legal luminaries led by Ricky Tarfa, SAN, with Chief Albert Akpomudje, SAN, Chioma Okwuanyi, Abiodun, Owonikoko, Dotun Oduwobi and Bamidele Aturu etc., the appellant, Chief Nwaukoni, in Suit No: B/CA/94/2009 filed 16 grounds of appeal complaining of non_evaluation of the evidence before the lower court and the failure of the court to ascribe any value to a document that was prepared by the Obi_in_Council in 1957 which was tendered and admitted in evidence. By that document the Ogwashi Community sought to codify and stream line the succession process leading to the installation of all major titles including the Iyase.
According to one of the legal counsels to Nwaukoni, Mr. Chioma Okwuanyi, â€œThere were material contradictions in the testimonies of the plaintiff. Their story was also riddled with incredible tales such as a man turning into a bird and speaking â€¦ incredibleâ€, he said.
Okwuanyi said, the Asaba High Court per Akpovi .J. agreed with the plaintiff by believing their story.
However, Chief Nwaukoni, appealed against the judgment.â€The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and dismissed the case of the Respondents because of the serious miscarriage of justice occasioned by