Court adjourns Olofa's suit over petition
The Appeal Court, Ilorin, hearing the Olofa stool’s case has adjourned sine die due to a petition purportedly written by a member of the Ruling House to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mariam Aloma-Mukhtar, alleging bias against the justices of the appellate court.
The lead justice, Raphael Chikwe Agbo, was visibly angry yesterday over the petition written against members of the panel by Olugbense Ruling Houses of Offa, Offa Local Council Area of Kwara State.
Agbo heads the three-member panel, which also includes Justices Isaiah Olufemi Akeju and Uchechukwu Onyemenam.
The Olugbense Ruling House had petitioned Aloma-Mukhtar, alleging bias against it in the ongoing litigation at the Appeal Court sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State capital.
The appellate court had in July this year declared as illegal the selection and installation of Anilelerin candidate, Alhaji Mohammed Mufutau Gbadamosi, as the Olofa of Offa.
Olugbense and Anilelerin are the two ruling houses in the ancient town.
Following that judgment, the Anilelerin Ruling House consequently filed stay of execution motions and restraining injunction against the execution of the judgment.
The Olugbense Ruling House also accused the appellate court’s panel of justices of encouraging the state government “to disobey, disregard or treat court judgment with impunity.”
Shortly after the announcement of appearances for the litigants yesterday, when counsel to Olugbense Ruling House, Toyin Oladipo, told the court that he received a copy of the petition right there in the court, Justice Agbo snapped “do you mean your client is controlling you?”
The angry judge added: “We received tendentious petition sent to the CJN purportedly signed by a member of the ruling house, alleging bias against them. I have never had it so nasty since my 30 years practice at both the Bar and the Bench. I have put in 10 years and 20 years at the Bar and Bench respectively. I had high regard before my posting here for the Ilorin Bar, but I must tell you this is a nasty welcome.
“We are not continuing with the case until the CJN decides on the petition. The case is hereby adjourned sine die.”
The letter, entitled: “Petition against panel of Court of Appeal sitting on motion for injunction/stay of execution of judgment in Appeal No. CA/IL/71/2012 between Alhaji Shehu Oyeniyi and two others,” was signed by Prince Saka Keji.
Parts of the petition read: “The Kwara State government, which has appealed against the judgment, has refused to recognise and install our candidate, Prince Abdulrauf Keji, who the Appeal Court has declared to be validly nominated. Instead, it has actively encouraged the deposed Olofa to continue to parade himself as the Oba.
“The motions for stay of execution and injunction restraining the execution of the judgment of the Appeal Court by the deposed Olofa of Offa and the kingmakers came up on October 7, 2013.
Investigations revealed that these justices who should defend their judgment themselves destroyed the judgment. First, they said in court that the Court of Appeal did not order that the Kwara State government should recognise and install Prince Abdulrauf Keji.
“The problem we have with the remarks of the justices is that the judgment of the court delivered on July 9, 2013, has been whittled down or written off instead of being protected by the same court until Supreme Court otherwise decides. We feel that it is not the duty of the court to encourage governments or persons to disobey, disregard or treat court judgment with impunity. With the justices’ remarks, we have no confidence that the new panel of justices can do justice to us in the case, just as we have our fears and concern on the motion for stay.
“If we have a level playing ground, we will be happy to do our case in an environment that assures us that justice will be done. We do not want favoritism, but we plead for justice.”
The family thus pleads the following:
• That the two motions for stay of proceedings be handled by a new or another panel of justices of the appellate court either in Ilorin division or we can be taken to another division of the court in any state in Nigeria or the matter be referred to the Supreme Court for the motions;
• The cross-appeal of the respondents, which is still pending be dealt with in accordance, that the present justices be excluded from any new panel that may be set up to deal with the matters.
“Your lordship’s quick intervention, action and response in the overall interest of justice and restoration of confidence in the judiciary will be appreciated,” the petitioners added.
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