A High Court sitting in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, on Wednesday ‘nullified’ the judgment of the Supreme Court on the relocation of the headquarters of Ilejemeje Local Government.
The Nation reports that the Supreme Court, had in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour on December 14, last year ordered the relocation of Ilejemeje council headquarters from Iye-Ekiti to Eda-Oniyo, ending a 19-year legal battle, which began at the state High Court.
The apex court had held that the relocation of the headquarters of the local government to Iye-Ekiti was null and void, noting that the decision was not backed by any statute.
But while ruling on an application by the claimant (Iye-Ekiti), the presiding Judge, Justice Abiodun Adesodun, said the government should have waited for the determination of the suit before the court before making such proclamation.
The state government through the Deputy Governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, had on Monday made a proclamation, which relocated the headquarters of Ilejemeje Local Government Area from Iye-Ekiti to Eda-Oniyo, alluding to the December 14, 2018 judgment of the Supreme Court.
Justice Adesodun, however, described the decision of the state government on the matter as an act of “executive rascality and self-help,” adding that the status quo should be maintained pending the final determination of the case.
Following the creation of Ekiti State in October 1, 1996, Ilejemeje Local Government Area was one of its 16 local government areas with its headquarters located in Eda Oniyo.
But three months later, through a radio announcement by the then Military Governor of the state, Col. Inua Bawa, government notified the public of the relocation of the local government from Eda-Oniyo to Iye-Ekiti.
The Eleda of Eda-Oniyo, Oba Awolola, instituted a legal action by a writ of summons at the state High Court in 1999, seeking a declaration that the relocation of the headquarters from Eda-Oniyo to Iye-Ekiti was illegal, null and void.
The High Court ruled in 2001 in favour of Oba Awolola, but the Ekiti State Government appealed against the judgment and won at the Court of Appeal, Ilorin.
The monarch, through his lawyer, Mr. Oluwadamilare Awokoya, filed another appeal in 2008 before the Supreme Court to challenge the decision of the Court of Appeal.
The apex court, in its judgment, set aside the March 6, 2006 Court of Appeal judgment and affirmed that of the state High Court.
In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour on December 14, 2018, the Supreme Court ordered the state government to take immediate steps to relocate the council headquarters to Eda-Oniyo from Iye-Ekiti.
The state through Egbeyemi, said the government had no option than to obey the apex court’s decision.
The deputy governor had proclaimed that the decision of the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, on the matter, was sacrosanct, inviolable and binding on the state government.
He had said it would be “illegal, irregular, unconstitutional, null and void” to recognise Iye-Ekiti as the headquarters of the council.
But the High court voided the relocation of the council’s headquarters and ruled that the status quo should be maintained, pending the final determination of the case.
Counsel to the claimant, Taiwo Kupolati, while making his final address, argued that the decision of the government contravened the Local Government Administration Law of 1999, which recognised Iye-Ekiti as the headquarters of Ilejemeje Local Government Area.
Kupolati also said the community was not joined in the suit leading to the judgment of the Supreme Court, noting that there was no statute backing the proclamation of the government on the relocation.
He called on the court to enforce the right of the claimant and save the state from what he described as “absolute recklessness.”
Counsel to the first (state government) and second (Attorney General) respondents, Yetunde Kolawole, said that the state government made the proclamation based on the verdict of the Supreme Court.
Kolawole added that it would amount to contempt of court for the state government to jettison the decision of the apex court .
Justice Adesodun, however, fixed November 19 for judgment on the matter.