There is a twist to the case by former Oyo State Governor Rashidi Ladoja against review of the Olubadan 1959 Chieftaincy Declaration. Justice M. I. Sule of Oyo State High Court has transferred the matter to the Chief Judge, Justice M. Abimbola. In a ruling at the resumed hearing yesterday, the judge said she would not want to start a case she won’t finish before the court’s vacation on September 12.
Justice Sule said she had two rulings pending before her, which she must dispense with before the vacation.According to her, the chief judge will know what to do with the matter. Justice Sule is the second judge to handle the matter earlier assigned to Justice Diran Akintola, who allegedly refused to hear an ex parte application meant to stop the panel from sitting.
This prompted Ladoja to petition the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen. Following the CJN’s intervention, the case was re-assigned to Justice Sule before who parties appeared on August 21 to hear a contempt charge against Governor Abiola Ajimobi and Justice Akintunde Boade, who chaired the panel.
Ladoja’s lead counsel Michael Lana yesterday accused the Commissioner of Justice and Attorney General,Oluwaseun Abimbola, of refusing to file the processes timeously to aid conclusion of the process of installing the obas on time.
Lana reminded the court the defendant had issues with the letters of appointment to the 21 obas and “purportedly held a coronation ceremony, which was heavily advertised and shown live on television”.
The lawyer said all actions the governor had taken on the matter constituted contempt, which the court condemned in several instances. He submitted that such must not be allowed to go unpunished. Lana requested the judge to stand down the matter for 30 minutes to enable him to file a response to the preliminary objection filed and served yesterday by the attorney-general. But Abimbola shrugged off the allegation of delaying the process. The lawyer argued there is an amendment to the reliefs sought by the claimant.
He said this structurally affected the originating summons, which informed the delay in filing some processes. Abimbola said the contempt application filed by Ladoja’s lawyer was based on sentiment, adding that the claimant’s lawyer should not give the impression the State High Court was winding down because of vacation.