BY GBOGBOWA GBOWA
The controversy surrounding the legitimacy of the traditional ruler-ship status of Oba Saheed Elegushi has again flared up in national discourse as a lawyer and real estate advisor, Barr. Olajide Ajana posits that the traditional ruler has lost authority and all material claims to office, following the recent Supreme Court judgment that nullified the control of all Inland Waterways situate or within Lagos State.
The Lagos based legal practitioner argued that since Oba Elegushi’s title derived from and is dependent on the existence of the state defunct inland waterways, the title and all its appurtenances, spiritual, temporal, material, economic or otherwise is altogether revoked, abolished and nullified; and presently of no consequence.
Ajana who in a statement declared that his position is based on both the facts and the letters of the law said, “The consequence and implication of the above pronouncements by the Supreme Court which is the highest and final Court in Nigeria is that all persons including Kabiyesi Oba Saheed Elegushi who derived title from the Lagos State Government in respect of the Inland water ways are bound and affected by the judgment of the Supreme Court with no exception.”
It will be recalled that the Supreme Court in a land mark judgment delivered in the case of NATIONAL INLAND WATERWAYS AUTHORITY & OTHERS VS LASWA, GOV. OF LAGOS STATE & ATTORN. GEN. OF LAGOS STATE with Suit No: SC.17/2018 on the 5th day of January 2024 by JOHN INYANG OKORO JSC leading other 4 Supreme Court Justices, declared null and void Lagos State Waterways Authority Law, 2008.
Ajana argued that since the title of Oba Saheed Elegushi is based on the title issued by the Lagos State Government, it follows also that the monarch’s title has also collapsed.
He further aver: “The Supreme Court Judgment delivered on 5th January 2024, led by Justice Okoro at page 37 stated; “I have read through both National Inland Waterways Authority Act 2004 and the Lagos State waterways authority law 2008. I have no doubt whatsoever that both statutes have identical provisions.
“Section 22 of the LASWA law defines under the control of the first respondent to include all waterways, rivers, creeks, lakes, tiled land and lagoons within the boundaries of Lagos State.” Similar to definition of “Inland waterways” in Section 29 of national inland waterways authority act which includes all waterways, rivers, creeks, lakes, tiled land, lagoons below the water based line.
“The Supreme Court further held : both enactment must not and cannot subsist side by side. The National Inland Waterways Authority Act being a Federal law must prevail whereas the identical law enacted by the Lagos State Act of Assembly must be and is hereby declared null and void.
“Once the Title and the Claims of Lagos State has failed, the Title of Oba Saheed Elegushi and others to the area being sand filled at Orange Island axis of Lagos State has also failed, being derived from the Lagos State Government.”
Ajana argued that the monarch’s statement recently that he is not party to the case is at best an exercise in futility.
“The press Statement recently issued by Oba Saheed Elegushi to the effect that he is not a party to the case of NIWA VS LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT and therefore attempting to trivialize impact of the judgment as circulating fake news is very unfortunate”, adding:
“The previous Press Statements issued with regard to the recent Supreme Court Decision to enlighten the general public and investors are based on Law and facts.
“The general public and investors should be properly guided and understand that the Supreme Court is the highest court in Nigeria and their decisions are final and cannot be appealed.
“Also when the root Title to a property is affected, it affects everyone claiming from the same root, which is the case with Oba Saheed Elegushi’s Title which was derived from Lagos State Government.”