By Onozure Dania
The Court of Appeal, sitting in Lagos has upturned the judgment of a Lagos High Court which recognised Alhaji Jimoh Ajose as the Baale of Kuje Amuwo in Amuwo Odofin local government area of Lagos State.
In a unanimous judgment delivered by the panel of justices of the appellate court presided over by Justice Joseph Shagbaor Ikyegh, it held that the high court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the case abi nitio.
The High Court had nullified the appointment of the first appellant, Mr. Isaac Owolabi Olayemi as the Baale/Oba of Kuje Amuwo, while quashing his letter of appointment with an order of perpetual injunction restraining him from parading himself as the Baale as well as restraining the authorities from recognizing him.
However in its judgment, the appellate court held that the first appellant Owolabi Olayemi was bonafide candidate nominated as Baale/Oba of Kuje Amuwo.
Ajose, who is the first respondent in the appeal had filled a suit at a Lagos High court alongside six others against Owolabi-Olayemi and Alhaji Mustapha Akinlolu, over disputed Kuje Amuwo chieftaincy stool.
Other applicants in the suit at the lower court were Alhaji Deji Oloko, Alhaji Kazeem Ayinde-Sanusi, Alhaji Jamiu Apanishile (For themselves and on behalf of Adeyi-Orofin of Kuje Amuwo Chieftaincy Family of Amuwo Odofin), Sidikatu Afinowi (The Sole Administrator, Amuwo Odofin Local Government Council, Lagos state), Oba Babatunde Lawal (The Onigbanko of Irede Town, The Chairman, Obas Council, Amuwo Odofin Local Government Council), and the Commissioner, Chieftaincy Affairs, Lagos state. The trial court had held “I grant an order of perpetual injunction restraining the first defendant from holding himself out and or parading himself as the Oba of Kuje Amuwo and the third to fifth defendants are hereby ordered not to accord any recognition to the first defendant as Oba of Kuje Amuwo.”
It further ordered that the third to fifth defendants shall take necessary step to notify the organs of Government in order to actualise the intendment of the judgment.
However, Justice Shagbaor- Ikyegh, stated that the fact of the dispute from the evidence before the court established that both the appellants and the first respondent belong to Adeyi-Orofin ruling house, adding that there is the traditional stool of Baale or Alamuwo of Kuje Amuwo which comprises of chieftaincy stool. “they the appellant and the first respondent are of Adeyi-Orofin Ruling House and Omose Ruling House, the traditional stool alternates between the two ruing houses the turn of Adeyi-Orofin ruling house fell due by passage of time and both the appellants and the first respondent vied for the chieftaincy stool, where the first respondent was allegedly nominated and selected by the members of the Adeyi-Orofin ruling house at a meeting of the ruling house as their Alamuwo or Baale of Kuje Amuwo”. Not satisfied with the decision of the High court the appellants filed an appeal challenging the judgment at the lower court.
The appellants identified issues for determination that, “ Whether having regard to the nature of claim before it and the provisions of the Obas and Chiefs of Lagos State Law particularly section 24 thereof, the court below was right to have assumed jurisdiction over the claim of the Plaintiffs/ respondents.
Justice Shagbaor- Ikyegh, however struck out the judgment of a Lagos High Court which recognised Alhaji Jimoh Ajose the first respondent as the Baale/Oba of Kuje Amuwo,in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos state.
The appellate court therefore held: “On the whole, there is merit in the appeal on the first issue only.