From: Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The next in rank to the stool of Olubadan of Ibadanland and Otun Olubadan, Sen. Lekan Balogun, and Osi Olubadan, Sen. Rashidi Ladoja, who is a former governor of Oyo State, have dragged Oyo State Government to court over the proposed plan of the state government to review the 1957 Olubadan chieftaincy declaration, which stipulates succession order to the throne of Olubadan.
The two prominent members of the Olubadan-in-Council, listed the state governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, and the seven-member Judicial Commission of Enquiry inaugurated by the government on Friday May 19, 2017 to review the system, as defendants before an Oyo State High Court.
The claimants prayed the court, in the suit number M/317/2017, to restrain the Judicial Commission of Enquiry from sitting, accepting any memorandum or in any way taking any step in furtherance of its assignment, pending the determination of motion on notice in respect of the subject.
Ajimobi had at the inauguration of the commission tasked the judicial panel headed by retired Justice Akintunde Boade, to review the existing requirement and qualification for ascendancy to the throne of Olubadan, and review the selection process of Olubadan from Otun and Balogun lines that have been producing Olubadan on rotational basis.
The governor also asked the commission to look into the possibilities of having more ‘Beaded Crown Obas’ in Ibadanland based on the present size and population of the city, adding that the commission should also review the existing 1957 Declaration of Olubadan of Ibadanland in line with the proposed change in chieftaincy institution in Ibadanland.
He explained that the setting up of the body was long overdue, considering the fact that the existing declaration of the Olubadan of Ibadanland was made in 1957, adding that the provision of the declaration was no longer in line with the current reality of the chieftaincy of equal status in Yorubaland.
But Ladoja and Balogun, in the suit filed by their counsel, Michael Lana, on Friday told the court that the governor lacked the power to change or amend the customary law relating to the selection of Olubadan, describing as invalid the judicial commission, which the governor said was constituted under Sections 10, 12 and 25 of the Chiefs Law 2000.
According to the claimants, the primary aim of the Chiefs Law is that traditional institutions must be guided and operated by the customary rules of each community, and not in accordance with modern dictates as argued by the governor, adding that only the chieftaincy committee, which made the 1957 Olubadan Declaration and which must be peopled by recognised chiefs and not any judicial commission could amend the law.
The claimants told the court that only two of the seven-members panel are natives of Ibadan, contending that it was improper for non-Ibadans to determine the fate of Ibadan indigenes on issues relating to the succession to the throne of the Olubadan. They said apart from the alleged illegality of the commission, the Ibadan has issues with the government over a member of the commission.
An affidavit in support of the claimants’ ex parte application said, “That Ibadan has issues with Oyo over the Council of Obas and one of the members of the commission, Prince Wasiu Gbadegesin, is in line to the throne of Alaafin of Oyo and will therefore be biased against the peaceful and rancor-free method of selecting the Olubadan of Ibadanland.”
They contended that certain situations must exist to warrant the proposed review, arguing further that such situations must include insufficient description of Olubadan selection process. They said: “Before setting up the commission, the governor never said that any of the situations happened to the 1957 Olubadan Declaration that has been used seamlessly without conflict, dispute or rancor to enthrone successive Olubadans.
“The provision relating to the declaration is mainly to put the customary law into written instrument in the custody of the government and not that it gives the government the right to change the customary law relating to a chieftaincy to suit its own purpose.”