Oba of Benin dragged to court over suspension of two Enigie
Oba Ewuare ll
Published By: Kazeem Ugbodaga
By Jethro Ibileke
The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, has been dragged before a Benin City High Court, presided over by Justice P. A. Akhihiero, over the suspension of two Enigie (Dukes).
In suit No. B/290OS/2023 filed by their Counsel, Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, the claimants, Prof. Gregory Akenzua and Edomwonyi Iduozee Ogiegbaen, Enogie of Evbo-Obanosa and Egbaen respectively, are challenging the monarch’s authority under the law to suspend them as the Enogie (Duke) of their respective communities.
They contended that their appointment as traditional chiefs was duly recognized by the Edo State Government.
The claimants who attached their registration certificates among the exhibits they relied upon in the suit, argued that they were duly registered under Section 25(2) of the Traditional Rulers and Chiefs Law, just like other traditional rulers in the state.
In an affidavit in support of the originating summons he deposed to, Akenzua alleged that the people of the two Dukedoms were hoodwinked to embark on solidarity visits to the Palace of the paramount ruler in Benin during which they were reportedly suspended in their absence.
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Relying on section 28 of the state traditional rulers and chiefs law, they argued that only the State Executive Council may sanction them (Enigie), if they were found wanting, adding that anything to the contrary is a usurpation of the powers of the State Executive Council.
They denied any wrongdoing by exercising their right to freedom of speech by writing a letter to the Governor of Edo State along with 94 of their fellow Enigie in 2022, in which they called on the governor to exercise the power conferred on him by law which they believed would lead to more rapid development of rural Edo State, particularly Edo South senatorial district.
According to the originating summons, “The two issues posed for determination by the court by the claimants are: Whether the Omo N’Oba can exercise the power to suspend a registered traditional chief, when the law vests that authority on the State Executive Committee.
“Whether the Oba of Benin has the authority to suspend them in violation of their right to fair hearing guaranteed by Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The trial judge, Justice P. A. Akhihiero has adjourned the case to 8 March, 2024, for mention.