13 years after, Supreme Court affirms Nwaukoni as Iyasei of Ogwashi-Uku
The Supreme Court, yesterday, resolved a 13-year-old chieftaincy dispute in Ogwashi-Uku, Delta State.
The court, in a unanimous judgment delivered by a five-man panel of Justices, declared Chief Mike Nwaukoni as the validly selected and installed Iyasei (traditional prime minister) of Ogwashi-Uku Kingdom.
Justice Sidi Bage, who read the lead judgment, held that an appeal lodged by three members of two royal families in the kingdom, challenging Nwaukoni’s selection, lacked merit.
“The amended statement of claim was found to be defective. The entire appeal, therefore, collapses.
“This appeal is hereby struck out. Parties are to bear their respective costs,” Justice Bage said.
Other members of the apex court panel that agreed with the judgment include Justices Dattijo Mohammed, Bayaang Akaas, Paul Galinje and Amina Augie.
The appellants- Mr. Augustine Arueze, Mr. Okonkwo Iyase and Chief Collins Afuwah, had on behalf of Umu-Uti family of Agidiase Quarters of Ogwashi-Uku, approached the court, praying it to set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Benin, delivered on July 12, 2010, upheld Nwaukoni’s installation as the 13th Iyasei of the kingdom.
They contended that the appellate court was wrong to have affirmed the selection and installation of Nwaukoni, who they said, was not a member of two royal families from where all the past traditional prime ministers of the kingdom were selected.
While praying the apex court to allow the appeal, marked SC/55/2011, the appellants insisted that only Ugbekide of Chami lineage and Umu-Uti of Jogwa lineage of Agidiase, Ogwashi Uku in Aniocha South Council of Delta State could produce an Iyasei.
They urged the court panel to overrule the appellate court and reinstate the judgment of an Ogwashi-Uku High Court, which on March 20, 2008, faulted Nwaukoni’s selection by the Council of Elders, known as the Obi, to head the kingdom.