Court declines Jurisdiction on Rotation of Auchi Royal stool over lack of Vacancy on the throne


The Edo State High Court sitting in Benin, the state capital, has ruled that the suit on the rotation of the exalted stool of the Otaru of Auchi can only be valid when the throne is vacant .

Delivering judgment recently in suit No. B/329/2018 between the different sub-ruling houses of Ikelebe Family, Justice Okungbowa held that the action to enable the other sub-ruling houses produce the next Otaru of Auchi Kingdom when there’s a reigning monarch in the person of His Royal Majesty, Alhaji Haliru Momoh is futuristic, hypothetical and therefore academic, which he insisted, the court has no jurisdiction to entertain.

He declined jurisdiction on the ground that the claimants did not challenge the appointment and installation of the reigning Otaru of Auchi, who ascended the throne in 1996, and also, no relief praying for his removal therefrom

According to the judge if the claimants’ case had merit and the court agreed with them, it will still be unable to grant them their reliefs in the absence of a vacancy to the throne.

Justice Okungbowa ruled: “It was submitted that the claimants did not plead that a vacancy has arisen in Auchi Kingdom, necessitating the court’s intervention in determining the way forward for interested parties.”

He continued: “It was further submitted that for the claimants right to redress to crystallize, there must be a vacancy to the stool, they must have a contest, the claimants’ families must have been denied the right to participate at all or fairly in the selection process, and where they are aggrieved with the process, they must have appealed to the executive council for redress before they can approach the court. It’s only at that point that the court have an alleged injury to adjudicate upon.”


Citing the case of Secretary Oye Local Government Area & Others v Oyinloye & Others, Justice Okungbowa said that the suit, which among others challenged the Bendel State Legal Notice 133 of 1979 in 2018, 39 years after it was enacted, was statute barred.

The claimants had sought a declaration that the Bendel State Legal Notice 133 of 1979, which discarded rotation among the sub-ruling houses of Ikelebe Ruling Family, amounted to Executive Legislation and same be struck down as it is unconstitutional.

Besides, the litigants wanted an order directing the defendants which included Edo State Government and the Momoh sub-ruling House, to comply with the selection, presentation and appointment and/or production of Otaru of Auchi on order of rotation among the Omonofua/Igechi/Omomo, Idao, Ikharo and Abikhele sub-ruling houses/branches of Ikelebe Ruling House of Auchi in line with the custom and tradition of Auchi and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3(2) & 14(1)(C) of the Traditional Rulers and Chiefs Laws 1979.

The claimants had also demanded a declaration that the recommendation of the Ojiugo Commission of Inquiry into the Otaru of Auchi Chieftaincy Title as regards the number and identity of the sub-ruling houses and the order of rotation represented the true traditional, correct and customary positions of Ikelebe title under the Auchi Native Laws and Customs.

They also prayed for an order directing the defendants to give effect to, or carry out or in any manner implement the recommendations contained in Ojiugo Administrative Inquiry into the Otaru of Auchi title of 1971 with such modification as to the number and identity of sub-ruling houses in Auchi.

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