The Supreme Court on Friday affirmed the appointment of Alhaji Ado Ibrahim, a Kogi traditional ruler, as the Ohinoyi and Paramount Ruler of Ebiraland.
Justice John Okoro, who read the lead judgment of a 5-man panel of justices of the apex court, held that the suit was statute-barred and set aside the concurrent decisions of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division and the trial court.
The court held that the respondents failed to comply with Section 2 of the Public Officers Protection Act which stipulates that a government action can only be challenged within three months.
The court further held that the suit was filed on March 6, 1998, more than nine months after Ibrahim’s appointment on June 2, 1997.
It would be recalled that the Court of Appeal had on Dec. 12, 2009, upheld the judgment of a Kogi High Court which dethroned Ibrahim in a judgment delivered on April 2, 2006.
Justice Tanko Hussein of the trial court had held that the appellant’s appointment by the Kogi Government was “illegal and fraudulent“ because it breached the state and Ebira Chieftaincy Laws.
Ibrahim’s appointment and installation by the then Kogi State Military Administrator, Col. Bzigu Afakirya, was challenged by a group of Ebira chieftaincy stool stakeholders in 1998.
They had joined Ibrahim, Kogi Government and Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice as defendants in the suit.
Many of the initial plaintiffs at the trial and appellate courts later died, thereby, necessitating a string of amendments and attendant delays in the suit over the years.
The Respondents/Defendants in the appeal are: Alhaji Maigida Lawal, Alhaji Momoh Jimoh, Alhaji Ibrahim Ohida, Alhaji Ahmadu Anivbassa, Alhaji Isa Sani Omolori, Mr Idris Seriki and Comrade Momoh Sanni.
Ibrahim had approached the Supreme Court urging it to set aside and stay the execution of the judgments of the trial court and Court of Appeal which did not favour him.
He had also hinged the appeal on the ground that the respondents failed to comply with Section 2 of the Public Officers Protection Act which stipulates that a government action can only be challenged within three months.
The aggrieved opponents only commenced their action against his appointment more than nine months after the appointment was made.