An Ogun State High Court sitting in Sagamu has fixed November 10 for hearing of a suit by Prince Adetayo Odunsi challenging the nomination of Albert Mayungbe to the stool of Odemo of Isara, Remo.
The co-defendants in the suit number HCS/158/2013 are the head of the ruling house, Prince Obafemi Awoyade; Secretary, Remo North Local Government; Oliwo of Isara, Chief Ajibowu Ogunfowodu; Apena of Isara, Chief Jimoh Soyombo; Chief Ladipo Ogunyemi; Ogbeni Odi of Isara, Chief Olaj.
Others are Ekeji Asipa Odi of Isara, Chief Efuwape Sotikare; Olori Emo of Isara, Chief Bashiru Awoniyi; Ekeji Olori Emo of Isara, Chief Korede Ogunwole; Asipa Emo of Isara, Chief Nosiru Sodipe; Ekeji Asipa Emo, Chief Adewole Sopitan; Governor of Ogun State; Executive Council of Ogun State; the state’s Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Local Government and the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice as second to 18th defendants respectively.
Hearing in the matter, which was initially fixed for last Thursday, failed to commence as the trial judge, Justice Olugboyega Ogunfowora, has been transferred to Ota from Sagamu.
Although parties in the matter and their counsels were present in court and prepared for arguments and submissions, the new judge, Justice A. A. Babawale said she would need to acquaint herself first with all case files that have gone through pre-hearing stages, consequent upon which the new adjourned date was mutually agreed on for commencement of hearing.
In his 32-point’ statement of claim, Prince Odunsi, who is a direct descendant of the late Oba Oyemade Mayungbe and progenitor of Erinsiba-Ayoledoye Ruling House, had averred that he is the one lawfully entitled to the stool of Odemo of Isara-Remo.
Giving a chronological order of the Obas produced by the ruling house, he averred that their progenitor was Rosanlu, also known as Erinsiba and that “Rosanlu begat Oyetade, who in turn begat Oyemade, also known as Mayungbe alias Ayoledoye” adding that, Mayungbe had four wives of which Arobo was the third.
The claimant averred that as at the time Mayungbe, alias Ayoledoye, married Arobo, who hailed from Akure, she came with a male child by name Ogunsakin from her earlier marriage and that when he later became king, he accommodated Ogunsakin in the palace in his lifetime. The claimant averred that when Oba Oyetade Mayungbe ascended the throne, and “in order to differentiate Ogunsakin, his stepson and an outsider, from other children in the palace, he made Ogunsakin an “Odi” meaning a servant to the king.
He averred that under Yoruba custom and tradition applicable in Isara-Remo, an “Odi” is not a member of a ruling house and can never qualify for nomination into the stool of Odemo of Isara-Remo” and that Ogunsakin also served as “Odi” to Oba Poke, the successor to Oba Oyetade Mayungbe.
To buttress his claim, he averred further that “Ogunsakin begat Oyekunle, who in turn begat the first defendant and that upon the death of Ogunsakin, Oyekunle, his son, the father of the first defendant, also served as “Odi” to two successive Obas in Isara-Remo, the late Oba Samuel Akinsanya and late Oba Adeboboye Osideinde”.
He further averred that the selection of the first defendant as Odemo-elect “is wrongful and should be declared null and void on the ground that he is not a member of Erinsiba-Ayoledoye Ruling House, but a lineage of past Odis in Isara-Remo and thus not qualified for nomination as a candidate for the Odemo of Isara chieftaincy.
Odunsi sought seven prayers and orders against the defendants: “A declaration that the first defendant is not a member of the Erinsiba-Adyoledoye Ruling House and therefore not qualified to contest for the stool; that under native law and custom applicable in Isara and Remoland generally, an Odi (servant of the king) or any of his descendants is not qualified to contest for the stool of Odemo of Isara; that the first defendant’s late grandfather and father, late Ogunsakin and Oyekunle Mayungbe were Odi to the late Oba Samuel Akinsanya and late Oba Adeboboye Osideinde and therefore, not qualified to aspire or to be considered for nomination to the stool”.
He, therefore, sought an order of the court setting aside the nomination exercise of Erinsiba/Ayoledoye ruling house held on February 21, 2011 at which meeting the first defendant emerged as one of the candidates for the Odemo of Isara chieftaincy; an order setting aside the decision of the kingmakers selecting or electing the first defendant as the candidate for the Odemo of Isara chieftaincy.
The claimant is also seeking an order setting aside any recommendation, if any, made by the 19th defendant and generally by the 15th, 17th and 18th defendants in relation to the first defendant as the Odemo-elect of Isara-Remo and an order directing the third defendant to issue a fresh notice to the second defendant, as head of Erinsiba/Ayoledoye, to summon a fresh meeting of the ruling house for the purpose of nominating candidates to fill the vacant stool of Odemo of Isara, to the exclusion of the first defendant.
In their statement of defence and counter claim, the first, second, sixth to tenth and 14th defendants admitted some of the averments of the claimant and denied others.
The first defendant, Albert Mayungbe, insisted on being a “bonafide member and descendant of the Erinsiba/Ayoledoye Ruling House and that the late Oba Mayungbe, aside from being a trader, met and married Arobo in Akure where Ogunsakin, his grandfather, was born.
He further claimed that “Odis” in Isara are not servants to the Obas, but appointed from among the royal houses and trusted relations and that his grandfather, Ogunsakin, rendered assistance to Oba Samuel Akinsanya and that in appreciation, he appointed his son, Oyekunle Mayungbe as his “Odi” contrary to the claims of the claimant.
The defendants averred that the meeting of the kingmakers held March 3, 2011 for the selection/appointment of a candidate to fill the vacant stool was held at Odemo’s palace with nine kingmakers in attendance, including the D.P.O. and O/C S.S.S.
The defendants claimed that the cultural law alluded to by the claimant was never part of the Isara law as claimed by the claimant and that the Paramount Ruler of Remoland, Oba Micheal Sonariwo, has no role to play in the selection process and that he is not a consenting authority for Odemo of Isara-Remo.
They contended that there is no custom in Isara-Remo barring an Odi’s son from being crowned an Oba and sought five prayers from the court.
They prayed the court to hold that the first defendant is a bonafide member of the Erinsiba/Ayoledoye Ruling House and for a declaration that since he is not an Odi himself, he is entitled to contest for the vacant stool of Odemo of Isara-Remo; that the nomination exercise conducted February 21, 2011 at which he was purportedly named candidate was proper and valid; that his selection and nomination by the kingmakers at their meeting of March 3, 2011 as oba-elect was proper and valid.
They also prayed the court for an order of mandamus compelling the 15th and 16th defendants to give approval to the appointment of the first defendant as the new Odemo-elect of Isara-Remo.
But the claimant, in his reply to the statement of defence and counter claim of the first, second, sixth to tenth and 14th defendants contended that the first defendant is not a bonafide member and descendant of the Erinsiba/Ayoledoye Ruling House.
The claimant further contended that even though Ogunsakin was a child of Arobo, he was not fathered by the late Oba Mayungbe and that the late monarch was never a trader who lived in Akure, but was an Ifa Priest and a pig rearer based in Isara, emphasising that there was never a time he travelled to or live in Akure.
The claimant averred that as at the time Mayungbe married Arobo, he was already a king in Isara and married to two wives and that it was while he was on the throne that Arobo came to Isara with a child known as Ogunsakin and was accomodated in the palace because she had no place to sleep, adding that Oba Mayungbe later took interest in her and married her.
He also maintained that Chief Akinola Akinsanya was never an Odi to Oba Samuel Adetayo Akinsanya, but was the first to be honoured with the Chieftaincy title of Otunba by the monarch and that Architect Pasiko Onadeko was also never an Odi to his brother, Oba A.I. Onadeko.
The claimant contended that the fact that the first defendant was named a surety during his search for a job does not translate that he is a prince or that they are both from same ruling house or give the first defendant the right to participate in the selection process for the vacant stool. He therefore prayed the court to dismiss the counter claim of the defendants with punitive costs.
Meanwhile, the Akarigbo, who is one of the four witnesses listed by the claimant, has already filed an affidavit before the Sagamu High Court, Ogun State.
Oba Sonariwo, who is also the paramount ruler of Remoland, had in his averments, raised objections to the nomination of Mayungbe by the kingmakers, in a letter dated April 12, 2011 addressed to the Caretaker Committee, Remo North Local Government, alleging that Mayungbe is not of royal blood, in response to the enquiry of the Remo North Local Government which sought his consent on the nomination of Albert Mayungbe.
The monarch believed he should not have been nominated and subsequently declined to give his consent to the choice of Mayungbe purportedly by the Erinsiba/Ayoledoye Ruling House.
He referred to the objection raised by one Prince Olufemi Omoyele, who is alleging the first defendant to be an Odi, and submitted that it was “well founded”.
The stool of Odemo of Isara, Remo, has remained vacant for eight years since the demise of the former ruler of the ancient town, Oba (Engr.) Idowu Onadeko.