Every arm of Government, be it the Legislature, the Executive, or the Judiciary has the onerous duty to accord unreserved defence to, comply with, protect, preserve and defend the grundnorm – the Constitution.
To act contrary to the provisions of the Constitution will not, if properly brought to the notice of the Court, be condoned but such an act will invite the proper sanctions and reliefs.
SEE: AJUWON V. GOV., OYO STATE (2021) 16 NWLR PT 1803 PG 499
Also, the court has the duty to jealously guard its powers and the supremacy of the Constitution as the grundnorm which is above all other authorities.
SEE: OKOROCHA V PDP (2014) 7 NWLR PT 1406 PG 213
The purpose of law in any society claiming to be civilized is to bring order, stability and interdependence consciousness in each society. To that end, the Courts through the well oriented reasoned and seasoned legal activism and social engineering will by their liberal interpretative powers focus on the egalitarian aspect of the life of the society and make the society become responsive to the norms and demands as some philosophical tenets which guarantee the well-being and orderliness of the Community.
SEE: NBN LTD VS SAVOL WA LTD (1994) 3 NWLR (PT 333) 435 AT 468
I deliberately cited the above three cases in order to reaffirm the position that the decisions of all Courts in Nigeria are binding and must be respected by all authorities and persons until set aside.
The Executive arm of government can’t select and pick which order or judgment of the court should be obeyed.
An Oyo state High Court sitting in Ogbomoso, on Wednesday, nullified the selection of Oba Ghandi Olaoye as the new Soun of Ogbomosho.
It will be recalled that one of the contestants to the throne, Prince Kabir Olaoye approached the Court challenging Ghandis’ emergence and the process that brought him to the throne.
It will also be recalled that the Oyo State High Court, Ogbomoso Judicial Division gave an interim order restraining the Governor of Oyo State who was the 1st defendant in a suit filed by Prince Kabir Olaoye in HOG/27/2022 challenging the emergence of Oba Ghandi as the new Soun of Ogbomoso after the demise of late Oba Jimoh Oyewumi who reigned for 48 years.
The Court, Hon. Justice K. A. ADEDOKUN who gave an interim Order on 7th day of September, 2023 upon the application of the Applicant restraining the Governor of Oyo State who was the 1st defendant in the suit from presenting any instrument of office in any form of ceremony or issuance of certificate of installation to the 12th defendant i.e Oba Ghandi pending the hearing and final determination of the mandatory injunction already filed before the court. The court thereafter adjourned the matter to 12th September, 2023 for hearing of the application.
I shall for clarity sake reproduce the court’s interim orders verbatim.
”AND AFTER HEARING Abiodun Ogunjinmi Esq., counsel to the Claimant/Applicant who moved Motion Ex-parte before the Court, Court then ordered as follows;
“I have carefully perused the application, the affidavit in support, the affidavit of urgency, the three Exhibits attached and the written address. I am convinced that the application is one of the instances where this Honourable court is empowered by Order 48 Rule 8 to exercise its discretion in favour of grant of same. One of the situations which an injunction is designed to combat is to arrest a fiat accompli which the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 12th Respondents have attempted to foist on the circumstances of this case.
In this situation, the application is ordered as prayed and accordingly:
AN INTERIM ORDER is hereby made restraining the 1st, 2nd & 3rd Respondents either by themselves, agents, servants or officials from presenting any instrument of office in any form of ceremony or issuance of certificate of installation to the 12th Respondent pending the hearing and final determination of the mandatory injunction already filed before this court.
AN INTERIM ORDER is also made restraining the 12th Respondent from parading, representing and/or presenting himself as candidate for any ceremony for the issuance of certificate of installation and/or permitted himself to wear any regalia resembling that of the occupant of the stool of Soun of Ogbomoso Chieftancy pending the hearing and final determination of the mandatory injunction already filed before this court.
The Claimant/Applicant is hereby directed to serve the Motion on Notice for Mandatory injunction on all the Respondents in this case. The matter is adjourned to 12th September, 2023 for hearing of the Application.”
It came as a huge surprise when the 1st defendant i.e Oyo State Government proceeded to install Oba Ghandi as the new Soun of Ogbomosho on the 8th day of September, 2023 in defiance of, and disregard to the subsisting interim Order of the Court. This was the highest demonstration of executive lawlessness.
Without doubt, the Governor of Oyo-State by virtue of Section 20 of the Chiefs law of Oyo State, 2000 has the power to either approve or set aside the appointment of a recognized chief. This power must be exercised within the ambit of the law.
The Court eventually set aside and declared null and void the emergence of Oba Ghandi as the new soun of Ogbomosho.
In I.N.E.C VS NYAKO (2011) 12 NWLR PT 1262 439 at 532, where the Court stated that where an act or decision is declared null and void, what it means is that the act or decision binds no one and is incapable of giving rise to any right or obligation under any circumstance. If an act or a thing is declared a nullity, the law regards that act or thing as having not existed at all. So, the implication of the judgment nullifying Ghandi’s emergence is that he ceases to become the Soun of Ogbomoso forthwith.
Judiciary as an arm of government is not an employee of the executive. Therefore, any executive act tending to pocket or cow the Judiciary arm of government into submission should be rejected openly and deliberately by all authorities and persons in accordance with the procedures stated by the laws.
Those who think they can hide under the use of executive rascality to disregard Courts’ Orders should learn their lessons and do the proper thing.
Moruff O. Balogun Esq.,
Vice-Chairman, NBA ,
Ijebu Ode Branch, Ogun State.