By Boluwaji Obahopo
CRISIS looms in Egbe town of Yagba West Local Government Area of Kogi State over the traditional stool of the town, as two people are laying claim to the throne.
Already, the state government is being threatened with contempt of court for allegedly violating the law by proceeding with the appointment of one of the contenders as the Baale despite the pending suit over the throne.
One of the princes of the town, Chief Folorunso Ampitan, had, in August 2016, approached a Kogi State High Court sitting in Isanlu to challenge the selection of a traditional ruler for the town.
However, despite the ongoing litigation, the state government announced the appointment of Abiodun Agbana as the Baale of Egbe and he was, thereafter, given a letter of appointment last Thursday.
‘Reverse appointment in 7 days or…’
Following the appointment by government, counsel to Ampitan, Mr. Tunji Ologbonyo, petitioned the state governor, Yahaya Bello, over the development, warning that the move amounted to contempt of court.
The petition dated, December 14, 2017, reads in part: “We wish to let you know that the stool of the Baale of Egbe is not only being contested, but is also a matter under litigation before the Kogi State High Court of Justice, sitting in Isanlu/Egbe suit No KGS/HC/10/2016 between Chief (Capt) Folorunsho Aremu Ampitan and HRH Oba Ayodele Irukera.
“The position of the law is that when a suit is pending in court, no party is allowed to interfere with the subject matter of the suit until it is finally determined by the trial court.”
Ampitan further argued that an interlocutory injunction restraining all actions in respect of the stool, pending the final determination of the suit, was already granted by the presiding judge, wondering why the state government still proceeded with the appointment.
The counsel, therefore, asked the state government to, as a matter of urgency, reverse the appointment and wait for the court determination.
“The reversal of the appointment should be made within seven days after the receipt of this letter, which should also be published in the same manner as the appointment was done,” he asked.
We followed due process, govt responds
However, the state government said the appointment of Chief Abidoun Agbana as the Baale of Egbe was done in accordance with the law on the appointment of traditional rulers.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Abubakar Ohere, maintained that due process was followed in the appointment.
The Baale stool is a third class position, but the occupant automatically becomes the Elegbe of Egbe, whenever the stool (Elegbe), which is a First Class position, is vacant.