Dr Ajibola Basiru, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the State of Osun, on Wednesday told an Osun State High Court that the use of “State of Osun” instead of Osun State by the Rauf Aregbesola’s government did not contravene the 1999 Constitution.
The state Chief Law officer was in court to defend Governor Aregbesola in a case instituted by a human rights activist, Bar. Kanmi Ajibola on the recently signed law tagged “State of Osun Land Use Charge Law 2016” in which he urged the court to declare the said law illegal, null and void.
Ajibola has contended among other things in his suit No. HIL/14/2016 that the law made by the state House of Assembly and signed by Governor Aregbesola under the name “State of Osun” was unconstitutional.
While citing many constitutional provisions and other relevant authorities to buttress his position, the plaintiff explained that “State of Osun” and Osun State did not mean the same thing and that “State of Osun” is strange and unknown to the 1999 constitution.
He averred that based on the seventh schedule of the constitution, both the governor and the lawmakers were administered into the office as officials of Osun State and not “State of Osun”.
He urged the court to nullify the Land Use Law Charge 2016 and to declare as illegal all other decisions and actions taken so far by the Aregbesola’s administration with the use of the name and reference “State of Osun”.
But the AG who led the state legal team from the Ministry of Justice faulted Ajibola’s arguments when he contended that the plaintiff erred in law, saying Aregbesola’s administration has done nothing wrong against the spirit of the 1999 constitution.
He took all the issues raised by the plaintiff one after the other by citing sections of the constitutional provisions and concluded that “by describing itself as, “State of Osun House of Assembly”, as it rightly did, the House of Assembly has not contravened any provisions of the 1999 constitution and the court is urged to hold so”.
“Therefore, it is submitted that reference to either itself or the law it made with the phrase ‘State of Osun’ has not in any way rendered the constitutional powers of the House of Assembly to make law unconstitutionally.
“The House of Assembly can add any prefix to its name as it wishes and desires and the same thing goes with the law it made so far the key words “Osun” and “State” are there no prejudice is done to the constitution, the Federal Government and the co-federating states”, the AG submitted.
The Director of Legal Services of the state House of Assembly, Bar. Rachael Ojinmi represented the state’s 26 lawmakers as the second defendants in the suit.
After the adoption of addresses by the plaintiff and the respondents, the presiding judge, Justice Yinka Afolabi fixed the final judgment of the matter to November 14, 2017.
It would be recalled that Justice Afolabi had shifted the judgment date twice by formulating further questions on the suit to be addressed by the plaintiff and the defendants.