An Osun State High Court sitting in Ilesa has declared as illegal, the change of name of the state from ‘Osun State’ to the ‘State of Osun’ by Governor Rauf Aregbesola.
Justice Yinka Afolabi, while delivering the judgment on Thursday in a case instituted by the Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Ilesa branch, Kanmi Ajibola, to challenge the legality of the “State of Osun Land Use Charge Law” held that the law and its makers were unknown to the 1999 Constitution.
Aregbesola had changed the name of the state from Osun State to State of Osun in 2011 but the NBA chairman, who is a human rights activists, had approached the court in 2016 and asked the court to declare as null all transactions done by the state with the name of State of Osun.
The presiding judge also declared that the makers of the law, who are currently serving as members of the state House of Assembly, were not sworn in as members of the “State of Osun House of Assembly” but as members of the Osun State House of Assembly going by the seventh scheduled of the 1999 Constitution.
He 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 declare 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 a mere oath. It does not give room for any alteration. After deposing to an oath of office, you cannot turn around to do otherwise,” Justice Afolabi stated.
The plaintiff had sought for an order setting aside the “State of Osun Land Use Charge Law, 2016” having being enacted by the legislative body that is not known to the constitution and for the state not known to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) is not enforceable in Osun State.
Justice Afolabi threw out all the arguments by the state Attorney General, Dr. Basiru Ajibola, who was the counsel for the governor and the state government and that of the Director of Legal Services, Mrs. Rachel Ojinni as he granted all the seven prayers of the plaintiff.
However, the state Attorney General disclosed at the court that the state government would appeal the verdict at the Court of Appeal.