By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Supreme Court, on Friday, sacked the Eleruwa of Eruwa, Oba Samuel Adegbola and six others, dismissing an appeal they lodged before it as lacking in merit.
The apex court, in a unanimous judgement by a five-man panel of Justices led by Justice Danttijo Mohammad, declined to set-aside concurrent verdicts of the Oyo state High Court and the Court of Appeal that held that they appellants had no right to the ancestral throne.
Appellants before the apex court were H.R.H. Oba Samuel Adebayo-Adegbola (Eleruwa), Chief Samuel Salako Adewusi (The deceased Odofin Eruwa), Chief Femi Atanda-Jagun of Eruwa, Chief I.O. Olabode-Olukuton of Eruwa, Chief Idowu Okeowo-Asipa of Eruwa, Chief E. Ojebisi-Baale of Agbe Eruwa and Mr. Kasali Sangotikun.
Cited as respondents in the appeal were Mr. James Olatunde Idowu, (For himself and on behalf of Laribikusi ruling house excepting Lasubu family or section of OF Laribikusi ruling house/quarters), Alhaji Rasheed Oyedepo Ajao, Oyo state governor, the Oyo state Attorney General and the Ibarapa East local government.
In the lead verdict that was delivered by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the apex court held: “The appeal has no merit and is hereby dismissed, I made no order as to cost. Parties are to bear their cost, the appeal is dismissed”.
Having resolved all the five issues raised in the appeal against the appellants, it upheld earlier decisions of the two lower courts.
According to the apex court, authorities the plaintiffs/appellants cited in their appeal had nothing to do with their case.
It held that the originating process and other processes in the matter was dully signed by a lawyer.
Justice Muktar Abimbola of an Ibadan High Court had in 2011 ordered Adegbola’s removal, declaring the process of his ascendancy to the Eruwa throne illegal.
Deciding a 13-year old litigation that was filed by the Laribikusi Ruling House, Justice Abimbola declared emergence of the appellants as null and void.
The judge held that Adegbola was not a member of Laribikusi, one of the town’s two ruling houses, whose turn it was to produce a successor to the previous Eleruwa, Oba Bolanle Olaniyan, who died in 1994, describing his recommendation by a section of the family and selection by the kingmakers as irregular and a breach of the provisions of the State Chiefs law, the Eleruwa chieftaincy declaration and Eruwa customs.
The Laribikusi ruling house had in their suit at the lower court sought a declaration that under the Custom and Chieftaincy Declaration of Eruwa, meeting for nomination of candidates by Ruling Quarters could only be summoned by the eldest member of the Ruling Quarters whose turn it was to provide candidates, contending that any meeting not so summoned was invalid and void.
They also prayed for a declaration that the purported meeting summoned by the 7th Defendant where the 1st Defendant was nominated, not being meeting of Laribikusi Ruling Quarters and not having been summoned or attended by the eldest member of Laribikusi Ruling Quarters, was improperly constituted, ultra vires, null, void and of no effect.
“Declaration that following the death of Oba Bolanle Olaniyan from the Akalako Ruling Quarters, is the turn of Laribikusi Ruling Quarters to present the new Eleruwa and the 1st Defendant being a member of the same Akalako Ruling Quarters with late Oba Bolanle Olaniyan is not qualified to contest or ascend the throne.
“Declaration that selection and approval of the 1st Defendant by the kingmakers is ultra vires in excess of their powers, null and void, since the kingmakers are entitled to select from the list submitted by the Ruling Quarters and the 1st Defendant’s name is not part of the nomination of Laribikusi Ruling Quarters,.
They also prayed for an order setting aside the purported nomination, selection and approval of the 1st Defendant as the new Eleruwa of Eruwa.
As well as an order restraining the 2nd -10th Defendants from recognizing or continue to recognize the 1st Defendant as Eleruwa of Eruwa.
An order directing the 2nd -10th Defendants and the Ikolaba of Eruwa if any, to reconsider the nomination made by Laribikusi Ruling Quarters and select a candidate to the stool of Eruwa for approval of the 9th Defendant.
In its judgment, the trial court granted all the reliefs of the 1st and 2nd Respondents.
The court further ordered the inclusion of the candidate of Lasubu section of the Laribikusi Ruling Quarters along with the other three candidates of the other sections for consideration by the kingmakers.