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Supreme Court strikes out appeal by Lagos monarch dethroning him as king

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The Supreme Court of Nigeria has struck out an appeal filed by Michael Onakoya against the decision of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal which affirmed the judgment of the lower court that dethroned him as king and Orijeru of Igbooye land, Epe.

In a judgment delivered in suit SC//CV//969/2024 by the Supreme Court panel consisting of Justice Adamu Jauro, Justice Chidiebere Nwaoma, Justice Obande Festus Ogbuinya, Justice Stephen Jonah Adah and Justice Hammed Baba Idris, the apex court held that the appeal was filed out of time.

The judgment read by Justice Jauro, stated in part that: “The court observed that the Notice of appeal on page 442 of the record was filed on 29/06/2020 against the decision delivered by the Court of Appeal Lagos Division on 26th March, 2020 which was out of the time prescribed by Section 27 of the Supreme Court Act. Though the learned Prof. Yusuf Ali (SAN) for 7th respondent has urged the court to hear the appeal; we do not deem it proper to hear an incompetent appeal.

“Consequent upon the foregoing the Notice of Appeal filed 29/06/2020 in Appeal No. SC/969/2020 is incompetent having been filed outside the time prescribed by the Section 27 of the Supreme Court Act and it is hereby struck out.

“Notice of appeal struck out. No order as to costs,” the court held.

The justices noted that the appellant’s counsel was not in court despite being duly served hearing notice for proceedings but the 1st to 6th respondents were represented by Babs Animashaun, and the 7th respondent was represented by Prof, Yusuf Ali (SAN) with Adams Olori Aje, Alex Okoja, Sefinat Lamidi and Kehinde Salimon.

And the 8th and 9th respondents were represented by A.O. Muheed, Deputy Director, Lagos State with Florence Pius Anyador, a Chief State Counsel and O. Osusanya, an Assistant Chief State Counsel.

The Court of appeal, Lagos Division had in March 2020 affirmed the judgment of a Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere which dethroned Michael Onakoya as the traditional ruler and Orijeru of Igbooye land, Epe.

Dissatisfied, the deposed king had approached the Court of Appeal and sought the order of the court to set aside the judgment of the lower court delivered on April 19, 2016 by Justice Iyabo Kasali.

But the three-man panel of the appellate court, Justice Mohammad Lawal, presiding, Justice Ugochukwu Ogakwu and Justice Jamilu Tukur, in a unanimous decision, dismissed the appeal filed by the deposed monarch.

The justices of the Court of Appeal held that the application to filed by the former king of Igbooyeland was lacking in merit.

In the judgment read by Justice Tukur, the justices of the upper court upheld the two issues raised for determination of the court by the first to sixth respondents and seventh respondents in their respondents’ briefs settled by T.A. Dairo and Yusuf Ali (SAN) respectively.

The appellate court held that the first to six respondents have locus standi to institute the suit filed at the Lagos High Court and also agreed and granted the relief sought by the respondents that the appellant/claimant, Micheal Onakoya, is not a member of the Ewade Ruling House of Igbooye land and is not entitled to be appointed as an Oba (king) on the platform of the ruling house.

The appellate court refused to award any cost as it ordered parties to bear their respective cost.

Respondents in the suit instituted by Onakoya included Alhaji M.A. Quadri, Mrs. Oladipe Otunowo, Chief Gbenro Otunowo, Otunba Abdulwasiu Musa-Adebamowo, (Head of the Ewade Ruling House), Lagos State Government and Attorney General of Lagos State.

Justice Kasali, in her April 2016 judgment, granted all the claims of the claimants in the suit filed through their counsel, Tunde Oyende and declared that, “The second defendant (Micheal Gbadebo Onakoya) is not a member of the Ewade Ruling House of Igbooye in Epe Local Government Area of Lagos State and is not entitled to be nominated to the stool of the Orijeru of Igbooye.”

The court “perpetually” restrained Onakoya from parading himself as a member of the Ewade Ruling House of Igbooye, Epe, the traditional ruler and Orijeru of Igbooye land of Epe Local government and declared the nomination of the second defendant, Onakoya, to the stool of Orijeru of Igbooye as illegal and of no effect.

Justice Kasali had also declared: “That all the other defendants are hereby perpetually restrained from recognising the second defendant (Micheal Gbadebo Onakoya) as a member of the Ewade Ruling House of Igbooye.

He was also barred from engaging “in any act capable of disturbing the peace, order and good governance of the community and environs” among other directives.

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