The Court of Appeal sitting in Benin City has upheld the appeal filed by the Edo State Government against a ruling of an Edo State High Court over the validity of the Traditional Rulers and chieftaincy edit of 1979.
It said the High Court erred for ruling in favour of one Arisco Osemwengie who filed the suit challenging the validity of the Traditional Rulers and chieftaincy edit of 1979. Arisco and some members of the Ogiamien family had attempted to challenge the authority of the Oba of Benin by carving out his Utantan kingdom out of Benin Kingdom and declaring himself an imperial majesty.
They were charged to the Magistrate Court for traditional treason and installing a traditional ruler without lawful authority as prohibited by the Traditional Rulers and chieftaincy edit of 1979 of Bendel, state as applicable to Edo state.
Justice Olukayode Bada in his ruling said the suit filed by Arisco and others against the state government and the Benin Traditional Council (BTC) at the High Court Benin City is status barred and does not disclose the reasonable cause of action.
Justice Bada said the suit was instituted outside the time limit stipulated by the status of limitation of Bendel state as applicable in Edo state.
He held that the law Arisco and other relied on which existed during the Midwest region has been repealed by the Traditional and chieftaincy Edit of 1979, therefore they have no locus standi to institute the suit.
Justice Bada said Arisco and others have been in slumber for 37 years but “suddenly woke up from their slumber even when they (Ogiamien of Benin Kingdom) have no reasonable cause of action as they are only recognized as a chief in the palace of the Oba of Benin as indicated by the extant law.
Reacting to the court ruling yesterday, Counsel to the Edo state government and the BTC, Chief Charles Edosomwan (SAN) leading O.A.Aimiuwu Esq and Douglas Ogbankwa, described the judgment as victory for the Benin traditional institution and the people of the Kingdom.
He said, “ the Appeal Court has its own wisdom declared that the suit filed by Defendants at the High Court was an abuse of process and there was no course of action in it and suit was caught by the limitation of action law. The Appeal Court said this issue has been there over 37 years ago but they brought it today just to constitute some nuisance in the polity.
“But it was declared as such and an abuse of process so the appeal was declared meritorious and was allowed and the suit in the lower court was struck out. There is no suit pending anymore, the only thing pending is the criminal charges against those who have perpetuated this criminality at the magistrate court and that will take its course”.
With this ruling, Arisco and others who were earlier remanded in prison but granted bail will now face trial at the Magistrate court for declaring himself Ogiamien of Utantan Benin nation without the authorities of the Oba of Benin and the state government.