Pilot Law

Landmark judgement




2 (1993) 1 SCNJ 208

3 (1993) 24 N.S.C.C (PT I) 110





The claim before the learned trial Judge as endorsed in the writ of summons dated 7th January, 1986 issued and filed on the same date is as follows-CLAIMS: ‘The plaintiff is the village head of Okanle and its environs under the title ‘Olokanle of Okanle’ and the descendant of Kosolu family the only recognised ruling house in Okanle. The first defendant is the Chief Legal Officer of the Kwara State Government; The second and third defendants are the Kwara State Local Government functionaries who on the advice of the first defendant purportedly/appointed the fourth defendant as Baale/Village head of Okanle. 1. Whereof the plaintiff claims against the defendants jointly and severally as follows; 1. A DECLARATION that ‘Olokanle’ is the traditional head of Okanle and that Raimi Olawale is the Olokanle of Okanle, having been so elected from the only ruling house in Okanle (Kosolu ruling house) in accordance with the traditional and custom of Okanle people.

  1. A MANDATORY INJUNCTION against the first, second and third defendants compelling them, their agents/servants to recognise the plaintiff as the Olokanle of Okanle. (i) A DECLARATION that if Baale is meant to be the headship of Okanle, the plaintiff (Raimi Olawale) is the proper Baale in accordance with Okanle’s tradition and custom B and the recognition of the fourth defendant by the second and third defendants as Baale/head of Okanle is therefore null and void as the headship of Okanle has always by tradition been from Kosolu family to which the fourth defendant is unknown.

(ii) A PERPETUAL INJUNCTION against the first, second and third defendants and their agents/and/or servants prohibiting them from recognising the fourth defendant as Baale/head of Okanle. (iii) A PERPETUAL INJUNCTION against the fourth defendant prohibiting him from parading himself and/or acting or holding himself out as Baale/head of Okanle. (iv) A MANDATORY INJUNCTION against the first, second and third defendants, their agents/servants compelling them to recognise the plaintiff as the Baale of Okanle. In his statement of claim Plaintiff averred as follows in paragraphs 3,15,16,23,24,25,26,27. “3. The Plaintiff is the recognised village head of Okanle under the title ‘Olokanle of Okanle’ in accordance with the tradition and custom of Okanle.” After tracing his pedigree and listing the reign of the past Olokanle he averred at paragraphs 15,16,23-27 as follows- “15. The Plaintiff says that Oyewole died and was succeeded by Abioye who reigned between 1927 and 1933 before Oyebode succeeded him in 1933. 16. The plaintiff also says that Oyebode died in 1981. 23. The Plaintiff says that Oyebode thus reigned as Olokanle of Okanle until his death in 1981 when the Plaintiff succeeded him. 24. The Plaintiff says that after the death of Buraimoh Oyebode as Olokanle of Okanle, the Okanle Kingmakers namely, Esa, Elemesho, Balogun, Akogun, The Babaloke, The Baba Isale Ojomun, selected the Plaintiff as successor of Oyebode as Olokanle of Okanle in accordance with the tradition of Okanle. 25. The decision of the Okanle Kingmakers was communicated to the Ifelodun Local Government for approval vide their letter dated 28th November, 1981, which is hereby pleaded. 26. The Ifelodun Local Government in its letter addressed to the Plaintiff Ref. IELG/HEAD/3/S.1/l06 of 4th August, 1981 wrongfully declined jurisdiction and urged the Plaintiff to approach the Ifelodun/Irepodun Traditional Council. This letter is pleaded. 27. The Plaintiff says that in a dramatic turn, the agent of the second and third defendants in Ifelodun Local Government wrote in his letter Reference ILG/S/88/S.7/80 of 3rd October, 1984 to say that the Plaintiffs’ ruling family coined the title ‘Olokanle’ for itself and that in any case the fourth defendant is the purported head of Okanle. The original copy of this letter is lost and all efforts at locating it have failed. A photocopy of the said letter is hereby pleaded.” It is clear from the statement of claim that the question whether there can be an Olokanle is not in dispute. This is because the position though conceded to Respondent’s family by Igbomina Ekiti Central Administration is recognising the same position as the Baale. (See para 19 of the statement of claim). The issue in dispute is whether the Olokanle or the Baale is the head of Okanle. This is clearly brought out in paragraphs 17-22 of the statement of claim, where it was averred as follows: “17. The Plaintiff says that after the creation of Igbomina Ekiti Division in 1970 the then Igbomina Ekiti Central Administration of Igbomina Ekiti Division abrogated the title’ Alangua’ as being foreign to Igbomina Ekiti Division. 18. The Plaintiff avers that the Igbomina Ekiti Division in its letter ReferenceCA/EST/l6/9 of 4th October, 1971 written to the Alangua wrote to terminate Oyebola as ‘Alangua’ This letter is hereby pleaded. 19. In 1972 the same Local Government ill its letter Reference DOIEI S/12/208 of 17th July, 1972 wrote another letter reappointing Oyebode as head of Okanle but under the title ‘Baale’ This letter is pleaded. 20. The Plaintiff’s family being dissatisfied with the new title wrote a protest letter and made series of representations to the Igbomina Ekiti Division Central Administration Local Government Authority in their letter dated 14th August, 1972 which letter is hereby pleaded asking to be restored to their traditional title of ‘Olokanle’ of Okanle.” The issue of jurisdiction has arisen because of the state of the law before October 1, 1979. Before October 1, 1979, the Courts were excluded by provision of the Constitution 1963 from exercising jurisdiction in respect of Chieftaincy disputes See S.161(3) of the Constitution of the Federation, 1963 No.20. This provision was omitted from the 1979 Constitution. The defendants also filed their statement of defence. The 1st set of defendants admitted paragraphs 17and 18of the statement of claim and generally traversed paragraphs 19, 20 and 21 putting the plaintiffs to strict proof. The 3rd defendant, who was originally the 4th defendant, pleaded as follows “3. The defendant says that he (the 4th defendant) had been appointed as the Village Head of Okanle with the title of ‘Baale’ since about 1971 or 1972 and the other defendants had since recognised him as such.” In addition to the issue of jurisdiction, the main issues for determination in the brief of learned Senior Advocate representing the plaintiff are as follows: (i) What is the proper title of the traditional head of Okanle i.e. is it Olokanle or Bale of Okanle? (ii) What is the procedure for appointing the Baale or Olokanle of Okanle? (iii) Is the plaintiff form Kosolu ruling house or is he entitled to the Olokanle Chieftaincy stool? (iv) Is the defendant, i.e. 4th, from the Kosolu family ruling house? (v) Has the plaintiff been appointed the Olokanle in accordance with native law and custom of Okanle people? (vi)Was the 4th Defendant imposed on the the people of Okanle as their Baale? In his judgment the learned trial Judge made several findings of fact. He found that: 1. The title of the Village Head of Okanle is Olokanle when it was first founded. It was only changed to Alanguwar by the Fulani Dynasty after the conquest Ilorin Division including Okanle in the Fulani Wars in 1914-27. 2. That the title Baale of Okanle was given to the Head of Okanle on the creation of Igbomina Ekiti Division and after the abrogation of Alanguwar.

  1. Buraimoh Oyebode was allowed to function as Baale of Okanle. He reverted to the title of Olokanle after he had been divested of the title of Baale. 4. Buraimoh Oyebode died in 1981. 5. Exhibit E did not name or appoint 4th Defendant as Baale of Okanle in place of Buraimoh Oyebode. Buraimoh Oyebode was Baale of Okanle up to 21st February, 1973. 6. 4th Defendant was not appointed Baale of Okanle between 1971 and 1972. 7. When the Ifelodun Traditional Council resolved that the 4th Defendant was the Baale of Okanle, he had in fact neither been appointed nor conferred with that title by the Okanle Community as the title did not then exist. In addition the learned trial Judge found that the 3rd defendant could not by the custom of the Okanle people be appointed the Baale or the Olokanle, since he claims through the female line. Having held that the jurisdiction of the court was the ousted, he entered judgment for the plaintiffs in terms of his claim. Dissatisfied with the decision, the defendants appealed to the Court below. The Court below unanimously dismissed the appeal. The appelants has further appealed to this court. Appeal dismissed.
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