A Benin High Court has struck out a suit seeking to stop the installation of Chief Anthony Ero Aleburu as the Odibiado of Sobe, Edo State.
The defendants are Aleburu, High Chief Charles Edekin Bonnie and Chief Palmer Uhakheme, (for themselves and on behalf of other kingmakers of Sobe).
The court held that the suit was not ripe for determination.
Justice Erhabor also declined to restrain the first defendant from parading or holding himself out to the public as Odibiado and traditional ruler of Sobe.
The claimant in a motion on notice dated December 28, 2012 filed through his counsel, Mr M.O. Okhuarobo, had sought four reliefs from the court including an order restraining the first defendant from presenting himself for installation as Odibiado of Sobe.
He had also sought an order restraining the second and third defendants from installing the first defendant or any other person other than the claimant as Odibiado of Sobe pending the determination of the substantive suit among other prayers.
In a 35-paragraph counter affidavit, the first and third defendant averred that the claimant was among the signatories that forwarded the name of the king-elect to the Edo State government in a letter dated March 27, 2012.
They further averred that the claimant is not a full fledged Ibiado Chief since he has not completed the rites that could have qualified him as an Ibiado chief and alleged that he was not known to the town.
The defendants also averred that though the late father of the claimant reigned in Sobe and wore beads on him in order for him to proceed to complete all the rites in the presence of all Ibiado chiefs, he has not done this till date.
They contended that the claimant exhibited ignorance of Sobe custom.
In his judgment, Justice Erhabor, citing relevant authorities, held that where a statute prescribed a legal line of action for determination of an issue, the aggrieved party must exhaust all the remedies in that law before going to court.
“It is my view that in a chieftaincy dispute, an aggrieved person who brings a suit must show that he brought his suit after he had exhausted the remedies provided or followed the procedure prescribed by applicable laws.
“In other words, the statement of claim must articulate the essential fact that local remedies have been exhausted before resorting to court. I hold this suit premature and precipitate.
“I agree that this action is not ripe for determination as the other remedies provided in the statute have not been explored. Consequently this suit is hereby struck out”, the trial judge added.
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A Report Of The Judgement Of The 16 Divisions Of The Court Of Appeal In Nigeria