Ceding Ajaokuta, others to Attah Igala, Judge queried

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Justice Donatus Okorowa, the fedel high court judge who granted the control of three local government areas (LGAs) in Kogi state to Idakwo Ameh Oboni, the Attah Igala, has been queried.

The disciplinary measure, it was gathered, followed a petition from Abubakar Malami, minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation, who was a party to the case.

In the judgement delivered on June 2, 2020, Okorowa granted the attah Igala ownership of Ajaokuta, Lokoja and Koton Karfe LGAs.

The judgment generated tension in the state, with indigenes of the affected LGAs insisting that they do not belong to Igala kingdom.

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While Ebira are the dominant ethnic group in Ajaokuta, the people of Oworo, Ebira, Nupe and Bassa are the main groups in Lokoja and Koton-Karfe.

The court also ruled that a N10 billion compensation should be paid to Igala kingdom, after granting the plaintiff’s prayer on the basis of an 1841 agreement between the British colony and the traditional ruler at the time.

The judge has now been asked to explain why he did not decline jurisdiction over the case considering it was a land matter.

The chief judge of the federal high court is also said to have questioned him on why the judgement was delivered despite that a similar suit involving same parties is pending in court.

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He also faulted the originating summons for resolving the issues that were filed in the course of the hearing.

A source privy to the case also said another issue in contention is the identity with which the attah Igala filed the case in court.

“Little, if any, attention has been paid to the name (or title/nomenclature) of the plaintiff – Attah Igala. Is he a legal person validly recognised in that name, or is it just a title? It is clear that it is the given title of the paramount ruler of the Igala ethnic group in Kogi state,” the source said.

“That being the case, is the fact that he filed the case in only his title a mere misnomer, or do the rules of our civil procedure disqualify a plaintiff who files a suit in any (way) other than his natural or legal name? “In other words, does a traditional title possess legal or juristic personality which can use and be used with that title?”

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Yahaya Bello, the governor, who belongs to the Ebira ethnic group, had sued for calm, over the judgement, saying some persons were testing the resolve of his administration.

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