Kunle Adelabu & Wale Olukotun
The High Court of Lagos State in Ikorodu Judicial Division has twice failed to deliver ruling in the controversial Alajede case before Honourable Judge Savage.
The judge was scheduled to deliver his ruling on interlocutory injunction pray for by the plaintiff/claimants in the suit No. IKD/82/2013 instituted by Pa Chief Olayiwola Saka Owoyele, Prince Kazeem Amusa (one of the aspirants for the Alajede stool) and Prince Babatunde Sulaimon Amusa who are suing for themselves and on behalf of Idowu Ajanaku Royal family of Ijede.
The defendants are Hon. Saheed Hassan (Oba-elect for the Alajede stool), immediately past Chairman, Ijede Local Council Development Area, Chief Aliu Musediku (regent/Olisa Ijede and Chairman, Ijede Kingmakers Council), Commissioner for Chieftaincy Affairs and Governor of Lagos State.
At the first date of the ruling on November 27, 2014, the crowd that filled the court room to its capacity was disappointed when Justice Savage announced that the ruling had been postponed. IMPACT gathered that the judge had a day earlier, directed the Assistant Registrar of the court to duly inform all the parties to the dispute but only few got the message sent by the Assistant Registrar.
On December 17, 2014, the adjourned date for the ruling, IMPACT gathered that Justice Savage of the lagos High Court in Ikorodu judicial Division was again unable to give ruling principally because of many rulings before him. But with agreement of the parties to the dispute lawyers, the ruling was adjourned till February 12, 2015.
Beginning of the controversy process
The journey to fill the vacant position of Alajede stool after the demise of Oba Fatai Adeboye Oresanya, Ladega II and Alajede of Ijede, who joined his ancestors on August 13, 2012, began on March 28, 2013, with the issuance of Public Notice to the Idowu Ajanaku Ruling House with the directive to produce candidate(s) for the Kingmakers consideration as stipulated in the declaration made under section 4 of the Chiefs Law (Cap 19) of the revised laws of western Nigeria 1959 and adopted by the Lagos State government (Applicable laws) Edict No.2 of 1968 of the Customary Law regulating the selection of the Chieftaincy Title of Oloja (Oba) of Ijede in Ikorodu District Council which identified five major ruling houses- Orese, Ladega, Idowu Ajanaku, Salako Atobatele and Aniyera ruling houses. The ruling houses are to present candidate in the order stated.
Ten candidates had signified interests to mount the throne of their forebears after the issuance of the public notice by the Ijede Local Council Development Area titled, “Notification of the vacant stool of Alajede of Ijede” in which the council directed the family to nominate candidate(s) for the considerations of the Kingmakers.
The ten princes that applied are- Prince Waziri Adewale Oyeshile (Aba branch), Prince Adebayo Kazeem Rafiu Lamina (Aba branch), Prince Adebayo Kazeem Amusa (Abisoye branch), Hon. (Prince) Adefarasin Saheed Hassan (Dada Eko branch), Prince Adeyinka Oyekanmi Rafiu (Dada Eko branch) and Prince Falilu Olamide Hamzat (Ija-Oba Odugbushen branch). Others includes Prince Gbadegesin Bisiriyu (Ija-Oba Odugbushen branch), Prince Razaq Balogun (Ija-Oba Odugbushen branch), Prince Olamilekan Nurudeen Jinadu (Demu branch) and Prince Jamiu Osho (Adetiloye branch).
While forwarding the ten names to the Council of Ijede Kingmakers, the head of Idowu Ajanaku Ruling House stated in the letter that the family held series of meetings and were unable to reach consensus on a particular candidate, hence, the forwarding of the entire names of those that applied for the stool to the kingmakers for their considerations.
This culminated into the invitation of the ten candidates by the body saddled with the responsibility of screening and picking preferred candidate(s).
At the end of the whole processes, the Kingmakers picked and sent the name of Hon. (Prince) Saheed Hassan to the Ministry of Local Government & Chieftaincy Affairs as the most preferred candidate and recommended him to be installed as next Alajede of Ijede.
However, one of the two princes that refused to attend the screening process, Prince Kazeem Amusa and two other family elders including the controversial new head of Idowu Ajanaku Ruling House, Pa Olaiwola Saka Owoyele, who was allegedly picked by a branch of the family after purportedly removing Otunba Adebayo Aba Ajanaku, instituted a court case to challenge the selection of Prince Saheed Hassan as the next Alajede.
Challenging the decision of the Kingmakers
Chief Olayiwola Saka Owoyele, Prince Kazeem Adebayo Amusa and Babatunde Sulaimon Amusa had approached the Ikorodu Judicial Division of High Court of Lagos State to challenge the processes that culminated into selection of the Oba-elect.
Prince Kazeem Amusa, who was presented as the candidate of Abisoye branch of Idowu Ajanaku Ruling House of Ijede and two other prominent members had in Suit No. IKD/82/2013 challenged presentation of Hon. Saheed Hassan Adefarasin as Alajede-elect after the conclusion of screening processes which included oral, written, consultation with Ifa oracle and voting by the Kingmakers.
The Claimants had in their Statement of Claims among others claimed that the first defendant, Hon Saheed Hassan, does not qualify to contest the Alajede stool and that same being forwarded by the Kingmakers as the Oba-elect failed to comply with the provisions of Obas and Chiefs Law of Lagos State and relevant Chieftaincy Declaration made there under in respect of succession to the stool of Oloja of Ijede.
The Claimants in No. 20 of their Statement of Claims stated that, “The Claimants categorically states that the 1st defendant (Hon. Saheed Hassan) is not a descendant of the claimants’ ruling house neither is he related to them by blood.”
They pray the court to among others declare the directives of 3rd defendant, Chief Alliu Musediku, the regent and head of Kingmakers to 2nd defendant, Chairman, Ijede Local Council Development Area to forward the name of 1st Hon. Saheed Hassan to the Lagos State Government for approval and appointment as the Oloja of Ijede as null and void having failed to comply with the provisions relevant laws. Two, a declaration that the 2nd Claimant, Prince Kazeem Amusa having fulfilled all the relevant conditions contained in the amended Registered Declaration regulating succession to the Oloja Chieftaincy stool is entitled to be approved as the next Oloja of Ijede.
Also that the Court should grant an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their agents and/or privies from appointing or approving the appointment and/or installation or coronating Hon. Hassan as the next Oloja of Ijede under the platform of Idowu Ajanaku Ruling house and another order of perpetual injunction restraining Hon. Hassan from presenting himself or causing himself to be presented for appointment or approval as such and/or from parading himself as Oloja of Ijede.
In the Statement on Oath deposed to by Chief Babatunde Ogunmuyiwa, the Odofin of Ijede and Secretary of the Council of Kingmakers for and on behalf of 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants and other four surviving Kingmakers, Odofin claimed that only seven out of the ten candidates from different Idowu Ajanaku branches recommended by the ruling family honoured the Kingmakers invitation by attending and participating in both the written and oral interviews, while two others – Prince Kazeem Amusa (2nd Claimant) and one Prince Adeyinka Oyekanmi Rafiu refused to honour their invitation and or to participate in the exercise. He also alleged that the two did not only refused accepting letter of invites, but also challenged the authority of the Kingmakers to conduct the exercise.
He also stated the last candidate, who was abroad at the material time sent a representative but was rejected by the Kingmakers.
Giving the details of the Kingmakers consultation with Ifa Oracle, the Odofin of Ijede stated that the Ifa priest was invited from Oyo in Oyo State without disclosing to him the specific assignment he was invited for in Ijede and due to this he did not come with his paraphernalia of Ifa Oracle but was sourced after his arrival and disclosure of nature of the assignment which was carried out on April 22, 2014.
Result of the Screening process
After the consultation with Ifa Oracle, it was revealed that only four of the ten candidates were given positive results in order of preference and the four are Hon Saheed Hassan (the 1st defendant) who the Ifa said required a he-goat for sacrifice, Prince Jamiu Osho, who was said to required two pigs and a she-goat for sacrifice, Prince Olalekan Jinadu who required three black cows and one white cow, and lastly, Prince Kazeem Amusa (2nd Claimant) who is said to required a tiger and a black cow for sacrifice.
In the written interview conducted by the Kingmakers on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 , two candidates – Hon. Saheed Hassan and Prince Waziri Adewale Oyeshile were said to have performed excellently, while in the oral interview, Hon. Saheed Hassan emerged as the best candidate.
The final phase of screening by the Kingmakers was casting of votes and writing of letter to the effect of the candidate of each of the Kingmakers’ choice for the Alajede stool. At the end of the exrcise, it was gathered that the six Kingmakers that took part in all the exercise voted in favour of Hon. Saheed Hassan. The seventh Kingmaker could not participate because of ill health.
Recommendation of Hon. Saheed Hassan to the government
Having satisfied necessary provisions regarding the screening and selection of Alajede of Ijede, Chief Ogunmuyiwa averred in the Statement on Oath that the Council of Ijede Kingmakers selected and approved the candidature of the 1st defendant (Hon. Saheed Hassan) as the Oba-elect and recommended his name through the Ijede Local Council Development Area to the Office of Commissioner for Chieftaincy & Local Government Affairs.
Explaining further the justification of the Kingmakers in picking Hon. Saheed Hassan as Oba-elect, Chief Ogunmuyiwa in the Statement on Oath stated that, “Ijede Community is in dire need of a quality head of Customary Administration and the qualification, pedigree and experience of Hon. Saheed Hassan will meet that challenge.”
While affirming that the Kingmakers has a duty under the law to play a role and exercise discretion as to the selection of best candidate for the Obaship position, the Odofin of Ijede also denied the accusation that the Council of Kingmakers are rubberstamp. He prayed that suit be dismissed in its entirety.
The Oba-elect’s position before the Court
In his capacity as 1st and 2nd Defendants (the Oba-elect and the then Chairman, Ijede LCDA) in the suit, Hon. Hassan contrary to the position of the Claimants alleging that he is not a descendant of the Idowu Ajanaku Ruling House, affirmed his relation to the ruling house by blood, birth and history of descent.
Tracing his genealogy tree, the Hon. Hassan stated that he is the sixth generation of the ruling family’s progenitor, Idowu Ajanaku.
Hon. Hassan who stated that he occasional attend the central meeting of Idowu Ajanaku Ruling house without any objection ever from any quarter to his participation, adding that he was approached by some elders of the family after the passage of late Oba Oresanya and appealed that the family require a quality candidate to occupy the vacant position which he accepted and consequently applied for like other candidates.
He claimed that his opponents pleaded with him through his mother to step down and not contest the vacant position.
The former Chairman, Ijede LCDA, also revealed that a list of ten candidates was sent to the Kingmakers after the family cannot resolve on a particular candidate and that he attended the screening processes on invitation by the Kingmakers and emerged as the preferred candidate.
The Oba-elect who asked the Court to dismiss the claims of the Claimants, also categorically stated in item No. 22 of his Statement on Oath that, “That I have applied, nominated by my branch of my Ruling House and in turn have recommended me and nine others to the Council of Kingmakers for both screening and selection exercise of candidates to fill the vacant stool of Oloja of Ijede and to God be the glory that I was finally selected and approved as the best candidate among my peers.”
Uncertainty over February 12, 2015 adjourned date
Despite adjourning the ruling on two occasions, there is a likelihood that the Court would be unable to deliver ruling on the injunction come February 12, 2015 adjourned date.
Information reaching The IMPACT revealed that the state government is not interested in any chieftaincy matter considering its sensitive nature until after the generation, thus, ruling fix for February is very uncertain since elections will commenced.