By Victor Adeoti
An Osun State High Court sitting in Ilesa has declared that the renaming of Osun State as “State of Osun” by Gov. Rauf Aregbesola was illegal and therefore, null and void.
Justice Yinka Afolabi ruled that the law and its makers were unknown to the 1999 Constitution.
In the more than one hour verdict, Justice Afolabi chided Aregbesola for deliberately and singlehandedly renaming the state, contrary to the known norms and the nation’s constitution.
He also declared that the makers of the law, who are currently serving as members of the State House of Assembly, were not sworn in as members of the “State of Osun House of Assembly” but as members of Osun State House of Assembly going by the seventh schedule of the constitution.
The judge said that since the creation of the state in 1991, previous governments used the constitutionally enshrined name of Osun State.
All the other 35 states of the federation, he added, had not deviated from the constitutional names given to them.
“The executive governor of the state changed the name in 2011. The renaming of a state goes further and deeper for anyone to singlehandedly do.
“To re-order the name of Osun State as “State of Osun” is hereby declared as illegal, null and void.
“On the oath of allegiance, I want to state that the Seventh Schedule is part of the law.
“It is not a mere draft or mere oath. It does not give room for any alteration. After deposing to an oath of office, you cannot turn around to do otherwise,’’ Afolabi stated.
The judge threw out all the arguments by the State Attorney-General, Dr Basiru Ajibola, who stood in as counsel for the governor and the state government.
He, however, granted all the seven prayers of the plaintiff.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the case was instituted by a human rights activist, Mr Kanmi Ajibola, who had challenged the legality of the “State of Osun Land Use Charge Law.’’
Ajibola had gone to court in 2016, asking for certain reliefs after being served a notice by a private company known as “Interspatial Limited.”
The notice was christened “State of Osun Land Use Charge Annual Demand Notice” and signed by one Mrs. A. Ogunlumade, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance.
According to him, the notice was addressed to him as the property owner of No. 42, Onigbogi Street off Ibala, Ilesa West, and served on Aug. 15, 2016.
Some of the reliefs he sought for included a declaration that the “State of Osun Land Use Charge Law 2016, ” having being enacted by a legislative body that is not known to the constitution and the state not known to the 1999 constitution, be declared illegal and unconstitutional.
Ajibola also asked the court to set aside the “State of Osun Land Use Charge Law, 2016” having been enacted by a legislative body that is not known to the constitution and the state not known to the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
The Attorney-General, however, said the judgment would be appealed.