•We’ve no hand in case -Govt


From Tony Osauzo, Benin

The Edo State High Court, Benin, yesterday, joined the Benin Traditional Council (BTC) as a party in a suit instituted by suspended (Enigie) Dukes in Benin, against Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, Oba of Benin.

Two suspended Enigie (Dukes) of Evbuobanosa and Egbaen Siluko Dukedoms in Benin Kingdom, Professor Gregory Akenzua and Chief Edomwonyi Ogiegbaen, had, on behalf of others, sued the Oba of Benin, challenging their suspension from office. The duo, on behalf of others, claimed that only the state Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who pronounced them suspended for rebelling against the monarch, could remove them from their positions.

Ruling in a motion, yesterday, Justice Peter Akhihiero, granted the first Defendant to include the Benin Traditional Council as the third defendant in the suit marked, B/250os/2023, while Oba Ewuare II and Edo State Government, are the first and second defendants, respectively.

The ruling followed an application filed by the second defendant’s lead Counsel, Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN), Prof. Edoba Omoregie and his team against the Claimants, Prof. Gregory Akenzua, and Edomwonyi Ogiegbaen, who both took the Oba of Benin to court over their suspension as Dukes of Evbuobanosa and Egbaen Siluko Dukedoms in Edo South Senatorial District in 2023.

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Justice Peter Akhihiero directed parties in the suit, Edo State Government represented by the state Attorney General and State Commissioner for Justice, Oluwole Iyamu (SAN), Oba Ewuare II, Prof. Gregory Akenzua and Edomwonyi Ogiegbaen, who were both represented by their Counsel, led by Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, who had objected to the motion through the Counsel of Oba Ewuare II, to amend their relevant documents in the case to reflect the decision.

While other parties in the suit aligned with the position of Oba Ewuare II Counsel to join Benin Traditional Council in the suit, the claimants, Prof. Gregory Akenzua and Edomwonyi Ogiegbaen, through their counsel, Dr Obayuwana, prayed the court not to list the Benin Traditional Council as a party in the suit and urged the court to award cost against the Oba of Benin, in favour of the claimants.

But, Justice Peter Akhihiero turned down the prayers and held that Obayuwana should not worry about the timing, insisting that “the race is not for the swift, or the battle for the strong. If they are bringing in the traditional council as necessary, I don’t see this as a problem since you people have brought the Oba to court. I don’t think I can shut down any party. Let them come in and file their processes”, Justice Akhihiero said. He adjourned the hearing in the case to July 15, 2024 in the absence of any injection. There was heavy presence of security personnel at the premises of the state High Court Complex on Sapele Road in Benin City, as groups and Edo sons and daughters, including members of the royal family and chiefs, displayed affection and solidarity for the Oba.

Meanwhile, the Edo State government, yesterday, said it has no hand in the court.

In a letter signed by the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, the government said: “The case with suit no. B/29005/2023 is between His Royal Highness, Prof. Gregory Idurobo Akenzua, the Enogie of Evbo-Obanosa/Abudu and His Royal Highness, Edomwonyi Iduozee Ogiegbaen, the Enogie of Egbaen-Siluko, against Oba Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin and the State Government, who are defendants in the suit.

“It is sad and painful that the matter, which is essentially among brothers, has degenerated to the point of litigation. The government, hereby, appeals to all parties in the matter, being blood relatives, to work together and withdraw the matter from the court and begin a process of dialogue towards the amicable resolution of the issues, in the interest of the sanctity of our most respected traditional institution. Government is also open to working with all parties for a peaceful resolution of the dispute.”