The Court of Appeal, sitting in Benin, Edo State, has quashed an attempt to stop the installation of Benin Crown Prince and Edaiken n’Uselu, HRH Eheneden Erediauwa, as the new Oba of Benin.
A plaintiff, Rich Arisco-Osemwingie, who proclaimed himself the Ogiamien of Utantan nation, had filed a motion seeking the court’s injunction to stop the installation of the Crown Prince slated for October 20, this year.
When the matter came up for hearing Thursday morning, the appellate court declined to hear the injunction, opting instead to hear the main appeal.
At the hearing of the matter on Thursday, Counsel to Arisco-Osemwengie and others, G.E. Oaikhena Esq, informed the Court of his application seeking for an injunction to stop the installation of the new Oba on the grounds that the re-enactment of the Ekiokpagha Treaty which they claimed the Ogiamien family is supposed to be part of is not included in the programme of events for the installation of the Oba.
The motion elicited legal fireworks from the counsel to the Governor of Edo State and others, Austin Alegeh, Chief Charles Uwensuyi Edosomwan, Omoruyi Omonuwa, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria.
Alegeh drew the attention of the Court to its earlier order that the motion should abide by the judgment of the Court, and therefore cannot be heard.
In his ruling on the matter, the Presiding Judge, Justice Olukayode Baba, agreed with Alegeh, saying that the Court was not going to grant any injunction, rather that they were going to allow their judgment decide the case. He therefore, urged the Counsel to argue the main Appeal which was brought before it.
After exhaustive argument by the Counsel, Justice Baba ruled that the “Court is reserving judgment on the substantive Appeal and I advise all parties to maintain status quo until judgment is given on the Appeal.”
Speaking to journalists after the sitting of the Court, Alegeh explained that “what happened today was that before the argument commenced, Counsel to Arisco, the respondent, attempted to move a motion for injunction, the Court told him they were not going to grant any injunction. At the end, the Court advised parties to maintain status quo. With this, there is no impediment affecting the coronation of the Oba of Benin. The coronation will go on as planned.”
On his part, Omonuwa explained that “what has happened today is that the interlocutory Appeal which was filed was taken. The Court did not deal with any application for injunction at all. The Court took the substantive Appeal. And in that Appeal, what we are saying essentially is that the case filed at the lower Court has no merit because the people that have gone to Court, they have no business of going to Court because they are relying on a law that does not exist.
“So all the issues were canvassed, they made their positions clear, then the court heard the arguments and reserved judgment. The position right now is that before they came to court, there was a situation wherein the laws in the state are the laws that are applicable. The status quo is what the position was before they ever went to court.
“So we have an Oba of Benin, that is the situation before hostilities. Everything remains the way it was. There was an application inviting the court to make an order but the court said no we are not going to take that application. We will take the main case when we finish whatever happens that will be the situation,” he said.
It would be recalled that the Edo state government had earlier in the year, filed a criminal charge against Arisco-Osemwengie and others at the Magistrate Court after the latter ascribed to himself the Ogiamien of Utantan Benin nation which the state government described as an attempt to usurp the powers of the Oba of Benin and waging communal war.
But Arisco-Osemwengie went to the High Court, filed a suit against Edo State Government, the Benin Traditional Council and others, arguing that the charge before the Magistrate Court is above the powers of the Edo State government and trying to set aside the chieftaincy Edict in Edo state which makes the Ogiamien a chief in the palace of the Oba of Benin.
After Osemwengie filed the suit at the High Court, Counsel to the Edo state Government and others, Alegeh (SAN), filed a notice of preliminary objection saying the suit is “status barred”, and that Rich Arisco-Osemwengie and others have no locus standi to institute the suit and that the suit does not disclose any reasonable cause of action.
But in his judgment, the Presiding Judge at the High Court 7 Benin City, Justice Ahamoje, earlier this year, ruled against Counsel to the Edo State government and others on the matter.
Consequently, Counsel to the Edo State Government, Alegeh, filed a notice of Appeal at the Court of Appeal Benin City, saying that the trial Judge erred in his ruling, urging the court to reverse the decision.
-[P.M. NEWS Nigeria]