By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
An Oyo state High Court judge, Justice Olajumoke Aiki on Thursday hands off in the suit filled by the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, against Governor Abiola Ajimobi, the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, the eight elevated high chiefs and the 12 elevated Baales.
Justice Aiki however returned the case file to the Chief Judge of Oyo state, Justice Muktar Abimbola for reassignment following the application by Governor Ajimobi that the case be transfered to another court because the judge had shown her mind in her ruling delivered in a sister case.
At the end of the resumed hearing of the suit, Justice Aiki in a ruling declared that when such an application is raised on a case, it is trite that the case is sent back to the Chief Judge for him to exercise his discretion and adjourned the matter sine dine.
Justice Aiki stated in the ruling that “when there is such a letter asking that a case be transferred on various reasons adduced by a party, it is the norm for the court to tarry for the Chief judge to exercise his discretion whether to transfer the matter or not,” .
“In view of our application for transfer of the matter, I humbly pray the court to await the decision of the Chief Judge before any other step is taken in this matter. It is trite that justice is rooted in confidence. In view of the first defendant’s view in respect of the matter, I pray the court for an adjournment to await the Chief Judge’s decision. All other counsels have been served.” she said.
Though ,the case was for ruling on three preliminary objections filed by the respondents on the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter but Counsel Governor Ajimobi, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Barrister Nurudeen Adegboye at the resumed hearing called the attention of the court to an application made via a letter dated January 30, 2018, to the Chief Judge of Oyo state asking that in view of the application for transfer of the matter, the court should await the decision of the Chief judge before taking any further step in the matter.
It will be recalled that the suit by the Olubadan is asking the court to determine whether the recent reform following the report of the Justice O.A. Oyeboade panel and subsequent coronation of 21 Obas in Ibadan was legal.
Counsel to the Olubadan, Barrister S.A. Ajewole while commenting on the development said the suit was slated for ruling on preliminary objections which had been strenuously argued before the court, only to be served with a copy of the letter which he said had no bearing with the activities of the court since it was addressed to the Chief Judge and not Court 10 and is nothing more than an administrative process.
“The intention of this letter is to arrest the ruling of the court by getting through the back door, what they cannot get through the front door. I do not know how a party will know the mind of the court. If the previous ruling is in their favour, will they write this letter? It is incumbent for the court to give ruling one way or the other; the court should ignore the letter as it was not addressed to it and give a ruling as scheduled. It is merely a letter, not an application,” Adewole stated.
However, the his Counsel to the fourth to the eleventh respondents,Barrister Abdulafeez Mohammad in his response aligned with the governor’s counsel, saying for the interest of justice to be seen as served, the court should await the decision of the Chief judge as the letter does not a constitute arrest of judgment and it is settled in law that there is only one high court in Oyo state irrespective of the number tagged on them and the matter is related to the one in which an earlier ruling had been given.
On his part, counsel to the 12 th to 24 th respondents, Kunle Sobaloju, also aligned with submissions by other respondent’s counsel, adding that the matter before the court is that whether in view of the request to the Chief Judge for transfer of the case, it will be in the interest of justice to proceed with delivery of ruling fixed for Thursday.
According to him, it will not be prejudicial to any of the parties if the Chief judge is allowed to take a decision on the matter.