The Supreme Court on Friday nullified the appointment of a traditional ruler in Plateau, Nde Goyang Kayili of Somji, Kabwir District, Pankshin Local Government Area, 30 years after he ascended the throne.
Delivering the lead judgment in an appeal brought by Kayili’s counsel against the decision of the Court of Appeal, Jos Division, Justice Clara Ogunbiyi held that the appeal lacked merit and dismissed it.
The apex court’s five-member panel also held that the main appeal and cross-appeals were devoid of merit and dismissed them but declined to award costs to either party.
The court further held that the Court of Appeal was right to have decided that the Somji Stool was rotational between the two royal houses of Neha and Ne’es.
It also affirmed the Court of Appeal’s judgment that it was Neha’s exclusive right and turn to occupy the stool since the death of Nde Boyi Goshit from Ne’es family on Sept. 5, 1984.
“The Court of Appeal was on a sound footing and could not be faulted when it preferred the evidence of the plaintiffs on this issue as against the evidence of the defendant.
“In the result and with all issues resolved against the appellant, the totality of the appeal is lacking in merit and on the totality of the appeal and cross-appeal, both are dismissed with no order as to costs.
“Having proved that they belong to the Somji Ruling House, which stool is rotational, and that it is now the turn of their Ruling House, it is therefore, their exclusive right to occupy the stool,’’ Ogunbiyi ordered.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the plaintiffs, Esly Yilbuk and two others, now deceased, had instituted the suit in 1987, challenging Kayili’s appointment on behalf of the Neha Ruling House.
The plaintiffs had joined Plateau Attorney-General and Pankshin Local Government as co-defendants in the suit.
Mr Jim Gotom, the plaintiffs’ counsel, had sought the following reliefs, among others: A declaration that the purported election,
selection or appointment and installation of Kayili by the Pankshin Local Government and confirmation by the state government was null and void.
A declaration that the plaintiffs and Neha family was the only house or has right to aspire to Somji stool.
The plaintiffs also sought a perpetual injunction restraining the defendant from parading himself as the ruler of Somji and restraining government from recognising the defendant’s appointment or validating same.
The trial court had held that the plaintiffs’ claim to the throne had not been proved and dismissed same, following which they proceeded to the Court of Appeal, Jos Division.
The Court of Appeal, however, reversed the trial court’s judgment and ruled that the plaintiffs had proved their case to entitle them to the judgment and the stool.
Unsatisfied with the Court of Appeal’s decision, the defendants’ counsel, Mr Sunday Obende, approached the Supreme Court for final determination of the suit.