Court declares change to ‘State of Osun’ illegal


An Osun State High Court sitting at Ilesa has declared that the change of name to “State of Osun” by Governor Rauf Aregbesola is illegal, null and void.

Ruling yesterday, Justice Yinka Afolabi ruled that the law and its makers are unknown to the 1999 Constitution.

Delivering the judgment, which lasted over one hour, the judge said Aregbesola renamed the state contrary to known norms and the nation’s constitution.

The judge declared that the makers of the law, who are serving in the 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.

He held that since the creation of the state in 1991, previous governments used the name, Osun State.

All 35 states, he added, have not deviated from their constitutional names.

Justice Afolabi said: “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.”

The judge threw out all arguments by the Attorney-General, Dr Basiru Ajibola, who stood in as counsel for the governor and the state.

But he granted all seven prayers of the plaintiff.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the case was instituted by a rights’ activist, Mr Kanmi Ajibola, who challenged the legality of the “State of Osun Land Use Charge Law”.

Ajibola went to court in 2016, asking for certain reliefs, after being served a notice by a private company, “Interspatial Limited”.

The notice was christened “State of Osun Land Use Charge Annual Demand Notice,” and signed by Mrs. A. Ogunlumade, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance.

According to him, the notice was addressed to him as the property owner of 42, Onigbogi Street, off Ibala, Ilesa West, and served on August 15, 2016.

Some of the reliefs he sought include a declaration that the “State of Osun Land Use Charge Law 2016, “having been enacted by a legislative body not known to the constitution and a 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 not known to the constitution and a state not known to the 1999 Constitution as amended.

The attorney-general said the judgment would be appealed.