S/Court commence hearing of appeal on Olufon of Ifon chieftaincy

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has resumed hearing of the appeal brought before it by Alhaji Maroof Adekunle Magbagbeola and 13 others challenging the judgment of the Court of Appeal which heard an appeal challenging the choice of traditional king makers that appointed him as the Olufon of Ifon Osun.

Magbagbeola had, in an appeal filed in August 2011, prayed the apex court to set aside the decision of the appellate court delivered on March 3, 2011, allowing the appeal by Prince Maroof Oladimeji Akintola, who is the respondent in his appeal, by setting aside the ruling of the trial court delivered in March 2009.

At the resumed hearing of the appeal recently, counsel to the Osun State government and the Attorney General of the State, Ambade Tijani Adisa informed the court of an application filed on October 23rd, 2012 seeking the leave of the court to file appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal out of time.

But justice Tanko Muhammad, who led a five-member panel of Justices of the Apex court held that the court, had on June 4, 2014, met in chambers and looked at the application and the judgments annexed and struck it out for lacking in merit

Tanko held that the application was struck out because the judgments annexed were not complete.

On the substantive appeal by Magbagbeola and 11 others, filed in August 2011, the court told counsel to the applicants, Kehinde Adesina to liaise with the registry of the lower court to come out with clean records on the real appellants are, so as not to confuse the court.

The court adjourned the matter till October 17th, 2017 for hearing of the appeal and urged parties to ensure that everything is done according to practice before the next adjourned date.

“We don’t want any problem to step up again. Put your house in order “, Justice Muhammad noted and asked Ambade Tijani Adisa, representing the state government to ensure he collects the enroll order of the judgment of the court on the state government’s application.

Appellants, in their notice of appeal, urged the apex court to set aside the judgment of the Akure division of the Court of Appeal, which allowed Prince Akintola’s appeal by setting aside the March 3, 2009 ruling of the trial court which declined jurisdiction to entertain Prince Akintola’s suit challenging the nomination of Magbagbeola as the Olufon of Ifon Osun on the ground of non compliance with Section 20 (a) and (b) of the Chief’s Law of Osun State, 2003.

The said law, “a party who is aggrieved by the decision of the prescribed authority on the chieftaincy matter is expected to make his grievances known by making a representation to the executive council against a decision within a period of 21 days”.

According to the appellants, the Court of Appeal, in allowing the appeal of the respondent failed to properly interpret the provision of the same law by taking away the respondent from parties who can make a representation against the spirit and intendments of the said law.

Recalled that the 1st appellant and the respondent are both members of the Olumoyere ruling house of Ifon Osun, in Osun State, which recognised five ruling houses in Ifon Osun in respect of the Olofun of Ifon Osun chieftaincy.

It is the turn of the ruling house to produce the next candidate to feel the vacant stool of Olufon-Osun, after the death of Oba Olatoye Ilufoye Orisatoyinbo II on 20th August 2007.

The 1st appellant and the respondent were nominated by their family to the kingmakers for screening and to perform their customary and traditional role of picking one of them.

The long delay by the traditional king makers because of their inability to form quorum prompted the Osun State government to appoint warrant. Kingmakers who performed and concluded the efforts of the traditional kingmakers.

On the recommendation of the executive council of the Osun State, the kingmakers appointed and forwarded the name of the 1st appellant (Magbagbeola) as the Olofun Ifon of Osun.

Dissatisfied with the appointment, the respondent, Prince Oladimeji, instead of protesting to the government and the executive council of Osun State, in line with the relevant law, proceeded to file a suit before the High Court of Osun State, challenging the approval of the appointment.

The appellant wants the apex court to determine whether the Appeal Court, Akure rightly interpreted the provision of Section 20 (1) and (2) of the Chief’s Law Cap 25 of Osun State 2003 and whether the appellate court was right in holding that the non compliance with the Section, the executive council may approve or set aside an appointment of a recognised chief.

The respondent, in his argument held that the thrust of the appellant’s appeal is the judgment of the Court of Appeal which held; among others that non compliance with the provisions of Section 20 (2) by a person aggrieved by the appointment of a chief is not fatal as the said section does not provide a sanction.

Prince Oladimeji held that he is not required to exhaust the administrative remedy provided by the Law before instituting his action.

“Whatever is the interpretation or intendments of Section 20 (2) of the Chief’s Law, it was not applicable to the respondent’s claim. The appellants herein failed to appeal against this aspect of the judgment of the Court of Appeal”, he said.

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