..PATERNITY CASE RAGES, 51 YRS AFTER PREMIER’S DEATH
By Akoma Chinweoke
Controversy rages fifty-one years after the death of the Premier of the defunct Western Region, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, in Nigeria’s first military coup of January 15, 1966, as the family of the Aare Ona Kakanfo XIII are locked in a fierce paternity battle to ascertain if truly the late Premier had a son outside wedlock..
Testifying before Justice Aderonke Aderemi of Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan, Akinjide Osuntokun, a renowned professor of history and international relations,who had no interest in the case but was compelled by the court as a witness of fact, noted that Akintola was married to Chief Faderera Abeke Akintola and that they had five children two of whom are alive. The two children alive, according to Osuntokun, are the Second Republic finance minister, Ambassador Abayomi Akintola, and Dr. Abimbola Akintola, the first female surgeon in Nigeria.“The first child of the family, Omodele Akintola, he noted, died in 1965 while Olatokunbo Akintola, the first African to attend the prestigious Eton College, England, and Oladipupo Akintola died in 1973 and 2006 respectively.
Testifying further in the suit instituted by a serving judge in the Oyo State Judiciary, Justice Ladiran Akintola, seeking to be declared a son of the late premier, Osuntokun affirmed that the facts available to him did not reveal that the late Akintola had a child out of wedlock. The professor, a historian and author of the late Premier’s definitive biography, titled: “S.Ladoke Akintola: His Life And Times”, also explained how he came about being the biographer of Akintola. He confirmed that he received a grant of N2000 (in the 1970s) from the University of Ibadan to undertake the research.“I was not an associate of Akintola because I was too young then but my elder brother, Osuola, was”. According to him, his research focused on the public life of the late Akintola and that he had also written the biographies of Sir Kashim Ibrahim and Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh as well as over one hundred scholarly publications.
Osuntokun, who disclosed that his appearance in the case marked the first time he will be in any court, pledged to be a witness of truth. He stated that his motives for writing Chief Akintola’s biography were to put in proper perspective his contributions to national development, assist in reconciling the warring factions in the South-West geo-politics and to help achieve peace in Nigeria.
When asked by the claimant’s counsel, Abiodun Abulrahim, if he knew his client, Osuntokun responded:” I know him(Justice Ladiran Akintola) as a pastor in my church and I regard him as a brother and I equally know his wife”. The historian further avowed that he was not in a position to know whether the late Premier had other children aside the five known to him.
However, a mild drama ensued when the defence counsel, Olaseni Oyefeso, sought to tender a copy of Osuntokun’s biography of Akintola in the court .His action was opposed by the counsel to the claimant, Abulrahim, who argued that the witness, evidence must have bearing with the pleadings of the court, pointing out that he was to come and give evidence and not to tender evidence. But counsel to the Samuel Ladoke Akintola family, Oyefeso, insisted that a witness of fact could tender his document, adding that it is the Evidence Act that guides the admissibility of documents. Afterwards,Abulrahim’s quest to tender some photographs was opposed by Oyefeso, prompting the judge to request that both counsel address her on the points of law. Subsequently, the court reserved ruling on the issue of admissibility of evidence to Friday, May 5,2017.
A judge of the High Court of Oyo State, Ibadan Division, Ladiran Akintola, had, in 2013, approached the court seeking to be declared a biological son of the late Premier, who was one of the founding fathers of modern Nigeria.The suit, marked No I/451/2013 and filed at the High Court of Oyo State, was previously pending before Justice S.A. Akinteye for pre-trial conference before it was assigned to Justice Eni Esan. Counsel to the Samuel Ladoke Akintola family, Oyefeso, at the pre-trial conference, had challenged the locus standi of Justice Ladiran Akintola (claimant) on the grounds that he could not have validly sued as ‘beneficiary’ in the estate of the late Chief S.L Akintola, reckoning that it was the subject matter submitted to the court for determination. In his ruling, Justice Akinteye dismissed the application and, consequently, an appeal was lodged at the Court of Appeal against the decision.
Earlier on, the second defendant in the suit and daughter of the late Premier, Dr. Abimbola Akintola, had stated that she had, alongside her brother, Bashorun Abayomi Akintola, forwarded a petition to the Chief Judge of Oyo State, requesting a transfer of the suit to another judge on the grounds of “likelihood of bias.”
Abimbola said in the event that the claimant did not refrain from conducting his case on the pages of newspapers, the two surviving children of Chief Akintola in the suit would not hesitate to petition the National Judicial Council alleging misconduct on the part of the High Court judge.
She stressed that her father was an upright man, a devout Christian and an advocate of faithfulness in marriage, who was only married to her late mother, Chief Faderera Abeke Akintola, who begot all his children namely: Omodele (deceased), Abayomi, Abimbola (herself), Ladipupo (deceased) and Tokunbo (deceased).