The Appeal court sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, said the lower court that threw out the case of Ilajo Royal family challenging the appointment of Chief Dele Owoniyi as the Obaro of kabba on the basis that it was statue barred was wrong and a miscarriage of justice.
Chief Henry Aiyewumi and three others on behalf of the Ilajo Royal family had approached the court to determine whether the high court sitting in Lokoja was right by throwing out the case challenging the appointment of Chief Dele Owoniyi as the Obaro of Kabba who he said is not from the royal family.
The appellants specifically urged the court to consider whether the judgment of the Supreme Court in the recent case of ESUWOYE V BOSERE relied upon by the lower court to dismiss the suit was right and held same to be statute barred.
In his judgement, Justice Onyenenam said the lower court failed to carry out a comprehensive study of the case it relied upon to dismiss the case and averred that the facts and circumstances of the supreme court judgement of Esuwoye v Bosere and the one before it were similar.
The appeal also held that the appellant did all it supposed to do according to sec 6 (1&2) of the Kogi State state chieftaincy law by writing to the governor to complain the anomaly in the appointment of Owoniyi before it finally approached the court.
The court ruled that all these were done within the time frame of the law but said the governor refused to take any action on the petition by setting up a judicial panel to look into the complaints and ruled therefore that the appellant has the right to seek for redress in the court as he can not wait till eternity.
The court therefore resolved the matter in favour of the appellants, Chief Henry Oluwole and 3 others and the court unanimously agreed that the suit was not statute barred stressing that the lower court was wrong to have held otherwise and stated that the Appellants did all that is required by law before proceeding to court.
However, the court dismissed the cross appeal which was filed by the cross appellant (Chief Dele Owoniyi) together with all the issues raised therein and said it lacked merit. The court unanimously agreed that the king makers are not necessary parties to the effective and efficient determination of the suit.
The Appeal Court therefore directed that the case file be returned to the chief judge of Kogi State for an immediate reassignment to another judge of Kogi state for an expeditious hearing and determination of the suit.
It will be recalled the Ilajo Royal family, which has three ruling houses, had approached the high court in Lokoja after the state government appointed Chief Solomon Dele Owoniyi as the Obaro of Kabba in 2018 following the death Oba Michael Olobayo.
The Ilajo lay claim as the sole occupier of the Obaro stool having produced more than 13 Obaro of Kabba but the high court dismissed the suit on the ground that the 1997 Edict made the obaro stool rotational citing the supreme court judgement of Esuwoye v Bosere to buttress its ruling.