Kogi: Court Sacks Eje Ofu, Onu Ugwolawo
The Eje of Ofu, Chief James Abalaka, and Onu Ugwolawo, Gabriel Attai Igono, would have to vacate their seats without further delay going by the recent court rulings. The Kogi State High Court of Justice at Idah presided over by Justice F. Ajayi had on Thursday, July 9, 2020, ruled that the recommendation of Mr. Gabriel Attai Igonoh by the Ata Igala for conferment of the stool of Onu/District Head of Ugwolawo is unconstitutional, null, void and contrary to provisions of the Kogi State Chiefs Law, No 23 of 2006. Without mincing words, the court quashed the appointment of Mr. Igonoh by the Kogi State Government in a suit number IDHC/18/2018 between Prince Usman Atodo Atabo, as claimant, and Gabriel Attai Igono, Ata Igala, Kogi State Attorney General and Kogi State Governor, as defendants.
Gabriel Igonoh, it was established, is not a member of any of the four ruling houses in Igala chiefdom, having emanated from the lineage of Aga, a female angle of Aju Ocholi dynasty. The stool is meant for male angles only. The Eje of Ofu and Chairman, Ofu Traditional Council, Chief James Abalaka, was earlier removed at Kogi State High Court of Justice, Anyigba, presided over by Justice Rukayat Ayoola in a court ruling dated 23rd April, 2020.
It was held that the appointment of Chief Abalaka as Eje of Ofu was in total disregard of the provisions of Sections 3 and 4 of Kogi State Chieftaincy Law No. 23 of 2006. The court ruled that Akwu Obaje is the proper person to be appointed Eje of Ofu Local Government Area having been nominated and recommended by the four ruling houses.
The court also ruled that Chief James Abalaka, who even endorsed the nomination of Chief Akwu Obaje and who was never nominated by the committee of the four ruling houses is not the proper person to be appointed as Eje of Ofu local Government Area
The court gave an order setting aside the recommendation by the Ata Igala and the state Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and the subsequent appointment of Chief James Abalaka by Kogi State Government; and gave an order of perpetual injunction restraining Chief James Abalaka from parading himself as Eje of Ofu Local Government Area. The court also gave an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs from appointing any other person than Chief Akwu Obaje as Eje of Ofu as the court also set aside the appointment of Chief James Abalaka by the state government through the ministry.
The court eventually directed the Ata Igala and Kogi State Government to appoint Chief Akwu Obaje as Eje of Ofu Local Government Area. The Eje and his co-defendants in the case did not appeal until 90 days elapsed, as they relied on a sue for a stay of execution. Chief Abalaka has eventually lost his seat as Eje of Ofu as his Stay of Execution Suit No. AYHC/31m/2020 was dismissed in a court ruling dated 21st July 2020 at Kogi State High Court presided over by Justice Mrs. R.O. Ayoola.