court

…The Claimants’ Suit is an abuse of Court process that calls for its dismissal …Judge

Justice Candide-Johnson of the High Court of Lagos State has dismissed the suit challenging the installation of the current Oluwa of Lagos, Chief Mukaila Kolawole Oluwa, thus way for continuation of processes for upgrading the stool to Obaship, which had been hitherto stalled by series of litigation.

The judge arrived at the decision in a considered judgment in the N5 million Suit No. LD:/1420/10 instituted by three contestants to the Oluwa stool, namely, Prince Ismail Abayomi Oluwa, Prince Samsideen Akibo Oluwa and Prince Tajudeen Ototo Oluwa, who sued Chief Mukaila Kolawaole Oluwa and Hon. Attorney-General of Lagos State as co-defendants.

Reviewing the cases of the claimants and defendants, the judge frowned at claimants’ lawyer’s attempt to usurp the function of the court by relying on “Bryne Garners deep issue format” rather than conjuring jurisprudential questions for the Court to deliberate, make neutral finding and arrive at independent judicial conclusions.

According to the judge the present suit is clearly an abuse of court process because a plethora of previous litigations spanning decades have judicially examined and resolved the issues invoked by the present suit, adding that the claimants clearly “re-litigated what is Res Judicata and/or Cause of Action Estoppels”.

He noted that the correct number of Ruling Houses in the Oluwa Chieftaincy family that they are five as against four ruling houses claimed by the claimants has been settled in various judgments delivered by Olusola Thomas J, in Suit No. LD/826/70, L.G.A. Marsh J. in LD/4420/94, and Atilade J. in LD/353/2000.

“Those judgments as far back as 1970 (about 47 years ago) have unequivocally held that there are actually five (5) not four (4) branches of the Oluwa Chieftaincy family which are (1) ASALU (2) ODOFIN (3) IDEWU (4) FARO and (5) AMORE”. The claimants had earlier pleaded four ruling houses: IDEWU, ADOGIA, AMORE, FARO and ASALU.

Justice Candide-Johnson further observed that the claimants legal strategy in this new suit is to say that there are 5 branches but that there are good reasons to exclude a particular branch from an entitlement to fill a vacancy in the Oluwa Chieftaincy Family.

“This arguably is why there are issues revolving around the allegation that this present 1st Defendant is from Abatan Compound inhabited by shrines and settled Arotas (slaves) and that there is a distinction between Odofin and Odofin Oyejo.

“When I read the Judgments in ID/826/70 and LD/4420/94 it is obvious that it is now too late and an abuse of Court Process for other branches of Oluwa Chieftaincy Family to continually explore avenues to re-litigate issues that have been effectually resolved with finality in the High Court of Lagos State”.

According to the judge, if the claimants believed they had a genuine argument that the current Oluwa came from Odofin Oyejo (which is non-existent) and not Odofin branch of the Oluwa Chieftaincy, they should have gone to the extent of carrying out DNA blood test to determine the paternity descendant, that he is rather of Arota (slaves) stock from Abatan Compound.

“I note with all seriousness that there is no DNA blood test produced nor initiated by Order of Court which this Court would have been disposed to grant, if Claimants had applied. In this technological 21st Century there are very precise scientific ways to determine paternity and genealogy especially with the Forensic Labs now available in Lagos State and around the world”, he said.

According to the judge, the claimants’ arguments that the current Oluwa of Lagos came from Abatan Compound being used to roast Oysters and are Domestic Staff and for worship of shrines are not tenable.

“I hold that I cannot find justification to uphold the Claimants suggestion that all and every person connected to Abatan Compound inclusive those connected with the area involved in roasting oysters and the area for the worship of shrines were all domestics or Arotas.

It would be wild and indefensible for a Court without any other corroborative or definitive nexus to say regarding a land where in different sections different activities were ongoing, that Oluwa Chieftaincy Family members would not be also present there, even in a supervisory capacity”, the judge discounted the claim.

“On the whole, I am satisfied that on the competing evidence there is no merit to the legal strategy of the Claimants to disinherit the 1st Defendant as a legitimate member of Oluwa Chieftaincy Family from the Odofin branch of the Family”, the judge said holding that “this Suit is an abuse of Court process that calls for its dismissal,…the Claimants case therefore, fails and the suit is dismissed forthwith”.

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