State of Osun: Govt engages six SANs to tackle activist lawyer

Faced by uncertainty of the likely outcome of the appeal it filed against the high court judgment which declared the use of “State of Osun” as illegal, the state government has engaged six Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) as counsels to handle the matter.  

Justice Yinka Afolabi of the Osun State High Court sitting in Ilesa has on December 14, 2017 declared as unconstitutional “State of Osun” in a suit filed by an activist lawyer, Barr. Kanmi Ajibola against the enactment of a law tagged “State of Osun Land Use Tax Law”. 

Besides, the same judge struck out the stay of execution application of the judgment filed by the state government on December 4, 2018 for lack of diligent prosecution thereby reestablishing the fact that the persistence use of “State of Osun” remained illegal.

But Barr. Ajibola who is also the Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Ilesa Branch filed a fresh suit at the State High Court by dragging the governor, Adegboyega Oyetola and his deputy, Benedict Alabi to court for taking their oaths as governor and deputy governor of “State of Osun” and not of Osun State during their swearing-in of November 27, 2018. 

Ajibola who filed a 28-paragraph affidavits along with his originating summons on Thursday, December 27, 2018 asked the court among other things to set aside the swearing-in of the defendantsas governor and deputy governor of “State of Osun”as illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.

The lawyer asked to court to determine an interpretative inference from the State (Creation and Transitional Provision) Act, Annotated Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2014 and the oath of office of the Governor of a state contained in the Seventh Schedule of the 1999 Constitution whether what the Constitution created is the “State of Osun”.

According to him, maybe by the community reading of the same act and the 1999 constitution with its schedules and the case of Aregbesola vs. Oyinlola (2010) LPELR – 3805 (CA) whether the 1st Defendant is the “Governor of State of Osun”.

In a swift move, six SANs announced to the Court of Appeal in Akure that they have taken over the case which was earlier being handled by the office of the State Attorney-General (AG) and the Ministry of Justice. 

The SANs expected to handle the case are  Chief Akin Olujimi, John Baiyeshea, Abiodun Owonikoko, Abiodun Layonu, Dayo Akinlaja and Chief Yomi Alliyu. 

Reacting, Barr. Ajibola stated that plaintiffs in any matter have the liberty in the choice of who to use as his lawyer, adding that the state government “knows that the decision of the appeal court will have a weighty impact” on his fresh suit, hence the decision to angage senior lawyers. 

“But I am ready for them. We are all going to speak on the point of law. What I know is that State of Osun cannot stand anywhere. We will all know the truth very soon.”, he added. 

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