Members of Ilana Omo Oodua, the umbrella body of Yoruba Self-determination and Self-Preservation groups, stormed the premises of the Federal High Court, Ado-Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti state, on Thursday as a hearing on the lawsuit challenging the validity of the 1999 constitution to hold elections begins.
Ilana Omo Oodua, last month filed a lawsuit against the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The lawsuit, instituted by Prof Banji Akintoye, his Deputy, Prof Wale Adeniran, Chief Bayo Orire and 15 others, was filed on behalf of the activists by their lawyer, Tolu Babaleye, before the Federal High Courts in Ado-Ekiti and Osogbo.
The suit seeks a declaration that the current 1999 Constitution of Nigeria is illegal, invalid and of no effect ‘because no referendum was conducted before it was enacted’.
It further demands a total decommissioning of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria to pave way for a referendum so that the indigenous people of Yoruba land can decide on their nationhood, first and foremost.
Meanwhile, at the hearing of the case on Thursday, the defendants in the case, Malami and INEC were absent and neither did they send legal representatives, according to a statement by Maxwell Adeleye, the Ilana Omo Oodua spokesperson.
The Plaintiffs were represented by a former National President of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Olasupo Ojo, Babaleye and three others.
The Presiding Judge, Justice Babs Olaniyi Kuewumi adjourned the case to May 11, 2022 to enable the defence team to file their response.
The Ilana Omo Oodua is demanding that “Whether by virtue of the Preamble to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended) which says: “WE THE PEOPLE of the Federal Republic of Nigeria HAVING firmly and solemnly resolved to live in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign Nation under God dedicated to the promotion of inter-African solidarity, world peace, international cooperation and understanding: AND TO PROVIDE for a Constitution for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country on the principle of Freedom, Equity and Justice, and for the purpose of consolidating the unity of our people do hereby make and give to ourselves the following constitution” without having a “Referendum” which absolutely is an essential part in the process of making a Constitution, the said 1999 Constitution (as Amended) is illegal, invalid and of no effect whatsoever for failing to meet an essential requirement to be qualified as a valid Constitution”.
Therefore, in the event that the above sole issue is resolved in the positive affirmation, the Claimants pray the Court for the following reliefs:
“A Declaration that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended) is invalid, illegal and of no effect whatsoever by reason of its failure to satisfy the essential requirements of a referendum and national consensus expected of a valid Constitution.
“A Declaration that the preamble/introductory passage to the 1999 Constitution inserted into the Constitution by the Military Government which says “we the people of Nigeria have resolved to give ourselves a Constitution” is a lie when in the actual fact it was the Military Government that came up with the document and imposed it on the Nigerian people without any contribution from the Nigerian people; it has therefore rendered the Constitution illegal, invalid and null and void and of no effect on the ground of naked lie fraud.
“A Declaration that no valid elections whether Presidential, Governorship, National and State Assembly or Councillorship elections can be validly held under the said invalid and fraudulent Constitution as one cannot build something on nothing in law and expect it to stand.
“A Declaration that the forthcoming Ekiti State Governorship election which is scheduled to be conducted in June 2022 by the INEC cannot be validly held under the said illegal and invalid 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
“An Order of this Honourable Court stopping the holding of the scheduled Ekiti State Governorship election coming up in June 2022 from being held as there is no valid legal framework for such an exercise because the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) under which the said Governorship election is planned to be conducted is illegal, invalid and inherently defective.
“An Order of this Honourable Court directing the Defendants jointly and severally to stay clear of Ekiti in June 2022 and suspend with immediate effect the plans and arrangements they have put in place to conduct such an illegal election in Ekiti State of Nigeria.”
The Coordinator of IOOW in Ekiti State, Pastor Ayodele Praise, urged all Yoruba people to be part of the history that the Banji Akintoye-led group wants to make, stating that if the orders being sought are granted by the court, the redemption of Yoruba land from the shackles of economic degradation and opprobrium is nearer.
Recall that in December 2021, Prof Akintoye said there would not be any governorship election in any part of Yoruba land in 2022.
This was despite preparations by the Independent National Electoral Commission to hold governorship elections in the two South-West states of Ekiti and Osun in 2022