Justice Olajumoke Aiki of an Oyo State High Court in Ibadan, on Wednesday, granted an application for an order of substituted service of court processes on the 21 newly installed obas in Ibadanland brought by the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso I.
The application was granted after the lead counsel to Olubadan, Alhaji Niyi Ajewole, moved the application that since the case was filed in the court on September 18, 2017, the bailiffs allegedly found it difficult to serve the writ of summon, the statement of claim and documents filed in court to the 21 new obas.
Newsmen, however, observed heavy presence of security operatives within and outside the court premises. They allowed only drivers with proper identifications to enter the court premises with their vehicles while others were told to park outside. They also searched thoroughly the people walking into the premises, probably to prevent a repeat of the invasion of Olubadan’s palace by yet-to-be identified gunmen on Monday morning.
In granting the order for the substituted service, the court held that the court processes should be pasted on the notice board of the Oyo State High Court, Moshood Abiola Way (Ring Road), Ibadan and it would be a good service on the 21 obas.
In the case with number M/1077/2017, Olubadan sued the state governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi; the Attorney General of the state, Mr. Seun Abimbola; and Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mr. Bimbo Kolade over the installation of the 21 new obas in Ibadanland. He listed them as the first to third defendants respectively. But Ajewole said Ajimobi, Abimbola and Kolade had been served since last week by the bailiffs.
Also, the eight out of the 11 members of the Olubadan-in-Council installed as beaded-crown wearing monarchs by the state government on August 27, 2017 are the fourth to the 11th defendants, while the 13 Baales (village heads) also installed as coronet wearing kings on the same day are the 12th to the 24th defendants.
At the proceedings yesterday, the first to the third defendants had legal representation in court. But the counsel to the fourth to the 11th defendants, Kehinde Eleja (SAN) said his clients had not been formally served the court processes and he was briefed about the case on Tuesday evening and the court was to sit the following morning. The 12th to the 24th defendants did not have legal representation in court yesterday.
Justice Aiki, however, adjourned the case to October 11, 2017 for mention, and ordered that the court processes be served on all the parties that had not been served within 24 hours.
In a chat with journalists after the court session, the lead counsel to Olubadan, Ajewole, told journalists: “We succeeded in moving a very important application that was granted. The application is a substituted service, meaning that the court processes- the writ of summon, the statement of claim and documents filed in court, we need to serve them. Since the time we filed the suit, the bailiffs have been going to their houses, but they refused service. They were dodging service of those processes.
“So, we have no choice than to bring an application to court that if we could not serve them in court personally, the court should grant an order that we should serve them by substituted means, which is by pasting those documents on the Oyo State High Court Justice Notice Board.
“The court granted us that order that we should go and paste it at the Oyo state High court Notice Board at Ring Road and it will be a good service. So, that is a major breakthrough. If we were unable to serve them, the case would not be able to proceed.”
Attorney General for the state, Abimbola, also told journalists on the case filed by Olubadan: Only three of the parties have been served and we have 21 parties that were yet to be served, which is the foundational requirement of the law, without service of process, you cannot go on. So, they (the claimant) brought an application to serve as substitution.
“Of course, it (the case) has been published all over the news. I guess a few of the defendants, who have been served were represented in court.
The case was adjourned to another date to ensure that parties have been properly served before we take the next step.”
But counsel to Olubadan could not move a motion, asking for interlocutory injunction over the advertisement published in a newspaper by the advisory council of Olubadan in which members of the council said Oba Adetunji could not install any Mogaji (family heads) or Baale without carrying them along.
However, counsel to fourth to the 11th defedants, Eleja (SAN), also told journalists: “Till this morning (yesterday), our clients have not been formally served the court processes. But as responsible citizens, since they became aware that an action had been filed against them in court, arrangement was made for them to be represented in court and that is why we were in court.
It was after the adjournment that the processes were served on us on behalf of the ‘High Chiefs’ of Ibadanland.