A Legal Icon, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), has warned the Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdurahman AbdulRazaq against reviewing the Supreme Court Judgement on the land dispute involving Offa and Erin Ile, saying he lacked the powers to undertake such action.
Babalola said he handled the Erin Ile’s matter against Offa before Justice Funsho Daramola Commission of Inquiry on Offa/Erin Ile boundary dispute in 1971, after which the court gave a judgement in favour of the town, by affirming that a place named ‘Kere Ipinle’, a boundary between the two feuding towns, belonged to Erin Ile.
The Supreme Court had in its separate judgements delivered by Justices Teslim Elias and Mary Odili, ceded the disputed land to Erin Ile in 1973 and 2018 respectively, but the Kwara State government refused to implement the verdicts.
Babalola, who spoke, yesterday while receiving a delegation from Erin Ile at his office in Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti(ABUAD), said no individual could review the judgement of any court.
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The six-man delegation comprised prominent members of Frontiers Club, Erin Ile, and other leaders, including Mr. Kolapo Usman, Muideen Bello, Ganiyu Daromosu, Adeola Ibrahim, Daromosu Azeez and Mr. Adamu.
Addressing the issue, the legal luminary said, “I was the one, who handled the matter in 1971 before Justice Funsho Daramola Panel of inquiry and we won.
“Later, the supreme court, the highest judicial body in the land, gave favourable judgement to Erin Ile on the same matter in 1973.
“With this, nobody, no matter how highly placed can review what the Supreme Court had said. That can’t happen”, Babalola warned.
He added: “I am personally interested in this case, because I handled the case ab initio and by practice and convention, I am part and parcel of Erin Ile Community”.
The Spokesman of the Erin Ile delegation, Bello, applauded Babalola for his service in ensuring justice for the town, but regretted that some powerful forces were working against the implementation of the apex court’s verdict.
“It is very unfortunate that Supreme Court could be this debased. The powerful people were blocking the implementation of the judgements we got in 1973 and 2018. This shouldn’t happen in a democracy,” he said.
Describing the constitution of a review committee by the Kwara Governor on the land dispute as a desecration of the judiciary, the Secretary of Frontiers Club, Erin Ile, Adeola, accused a top member of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet of working hard to scuttle the implementation of the court’s pronouncement.
“We are aware that in the past few weeks, the Buhari’s aide has played host to the Olofa of Offa in Abuja, and has taken the latter to meet with some political office holders. We are also aware that top on the agenda of these engagements are the land issue, particularly how to undermine the undisputable ownership of the land by Erin Ile.
“No amount of moves and the dropping of the President’s name would however change that. The Kwara State government has one duty and obligation on the land matter, and that is to enforce the Supreme Court judgement. Any attempt to use subterfuge to fraudulently seize the land for Offa for any project whatsoever will not work.
“Constitutionally and legally, an administrative panel cannot sit on appeal of the decisions and judgement of the Supreme Court and neither can it impeach judicial pronouncement”, Adeola said.
The Kwara government’s review committee chaired by a former governor, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, has other statesmen like Justice Saidu Salihu, Alhaji Lak Jimoh, Chief Titus Ashaolu, Senator Simeon Ajibola, Alhaji Abubakar Ndakene, Senator Mohammed Ahmed, Permanent Secretary (Political, Cabinet and Special Services), Sabitiyu Kikelomo Grillo, and Professor Hassan Saliu, as members.
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