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Ruling in suit challenging Lawal’s coronation as Oniru adjourned indefinitely

By Kehinde Olatunji
02 August 2022   |   2:37 am
Justice J. Safari of the Lagos High Court has adjourned indefinitely, ruling in the case challenging the installation of Oba Gbolahan Lawal, as the Oniru of Iru land, Lagos State.

Federal High Court, Lagos

Justice J. Safari of the Lagos High Court has adjourned indefinitely, ruling in the case challenging the installation of Oba Gbolahan Lawal, as the Oniru of Iru land, Lagos State.

In December 2019, Prince Akeem Ajasa, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), was reportedly chosen as the Oniru-elect to succeed the late Oba Abiodun Oniru, who died in September 23, 2019, at the age of 82.
However, there has been growing concern over the apparent slow manner in which the case is being handled.

Ajasa’s declaration as the Oniru-elect suffered a major setback when the entire Omowunmi Abisogun ruling family house rejected his announcement, saying that his branch, Ewunmi and other branches of Abisogun ruling house are strangers and not of royal lineage.

The Omowunmi branch of Abisogun ruling house proceeded to file a suit by Afusatu Kabiawu and Suraju Durosimi and one other (as representatives of the Abisogun ruling house, Omowunmi Abisogun Oniru chieftaincy family.
In the case filed on December 31, 2019, with suit No: LD/6681GCMW/2020, Kabiawu claimed that Omowunmi Abisogun Oniru is the only branch of Abisogun ruling house of the Iru royal family.
He claimed in a declaration that the succession to the Oniru chieftaincy family is hereditary and Abisogun ruling house is next to nominate a candidate.

But amid the disagreement, the race to fill the vacant stool took a new twist by May 2020, when the State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, imposed Prince Gbolahan Lawal, also from Ewunmi sub-branch of Abisogun ruling house, a former commissioner in Lagos state and ADC to Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as the Oniru-elect.

Lawal was consequently sworn in on June 8, 2020, amid lingering disagreement and a court order challenging the stool and a court relief seeking a restrictive injunction against the State Government.
Ajasa, through his lawyers, proceeded to file a statement of defence dated December 1, 2020, which, was thereafter, regularised by the court on December 9.
Ajasa also filed a motion, dated December 18, seeking to join Bola Ahmed Tinubu as well as Prince Gbolahan Lawal as parties to the suit as defendants to the counterclaim earlier raised in the defence.

The said motion was strictly resisted by Prince Gbolahan Lawal through his counsel, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN).

But 18 months later, the motion is still pending and has not been heard. It was learned that Ajasa’s lawyers again filed a motion dated February 3, 2021.

The motion sought several prayers including; the declaration that the stool was vacant at a point in time, when the matter was instituted that the state government proceeded to install Prince Lawal, while the suit was pending and sub-judice and that the installation be set aside and the vacancy of the stool be maintained.
The court had on April, 4, 2022 heard arguments on whether it could suspend the hearing of the preliminary objection filed on March 5, 2020 by the state government until after the hearing of the substantive case and adjourned the matter till June 30, 2022 for ruling.

“On June 30, 22 when parties reconvened in court to hear the ruling, they were informed that a further date for the ruling was not ready and that a further date for the delivery of the ruling will be communicated.
“The registrar of the court, however, promised to inform all parties involved in the suit of the next date of adjournment as soon as it is given by the judge, Ajasa’s lawyer, Ishola Agboola said.

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