A High Court in Plateau State on Friday ordered the paramount ruler of the Izere nation in Jos East Local Government of the state, His Royal Highness, Isaac Azi Wakili, to pay N10 million as damages for installing one Dang Azi as the Ward Head of Ahwere in his locality.
The court sitting in Jos and presided over by Justice P Gang gave the order while delivering judgment in an originating summon filed against the monarch and six others by the claimant and Ward Head of Laminga community, Chief Y A Izang.
Recall that On the 11th of May, 2007, the Plateau State High Court presided over by His Lordship, Hon. Justice Y.G Dakwak, had ruled that the selection of one Atsen Dang Azi, in the first place, to aspire for rulership as a Ward Head of Laminga or any part thereof is null and void as it did not conform to the traditional evidence which only permits his Ahwere family lineages to aspire as Chief Priests and not as Ward Heads in Laminga community.
The Court of Appeal, as well as the Supreme Court had also dismissed the case in favour of the claimant .
However, despite the several court rulings on the matter, the paramount ruler had gone ahead to install Atsen Dang Azi as another Ward Head in Laminga Community
But in an originating summons filled at the state High Court by the Ward Head of Laminga,Chief Y A Izang, the claimant, through his lawyer, T V Kindness, had sued the paramount ruler and Atsen Dang Azi as the first and second defendants respectively .
The claimant in the suit which has acting district head of Fobur, Adagwom Izang Abok(3rd defendant), Jos East Traditional Council (4th defendant), Jos East Local Government Council (5th defendant), Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Plateau state (6th defendant ) and the Attorney General of Plateau state (7th defendant) had posed six questions for determination
The claimant had asked the court to determine whether the first defendant can legally turban the second defendant as the Ward Head of Ahwere considering the judgement of the Plateau state High Court of Justice in suit No.PLD/J59/2000 delivered by Hon. Justice Y G Dakwak on the 11th May 2007.
He also asked the court to determine whether in view of the appeal by the second defendant to the Court of Appeal in Appeal No.CA /J/361//2007 and further appeal to the Supreme court in No.SC470/2015 which the two appellate courts dismissed the appeals ,can the 3rd defendant present the 2nd defendant to be installed as the Ward of Ahwere in Laminga by the first and fourth defendants
He equally equally asked the court to determine whether from the circumstances of the case,the purported installation of the second defendant by the first defendant contrary to the judgment of 11th May ,2007 is valid as well as wether the defendants have any legal justification to subject the claimant to psychological trauma by their action.
The claimant ,therefore, sought five reliefs which include an order of the court declaring that purported installation of the second defendant by the first defendant is null,void and of no effect whatsoever
“An order of the court setting aside the purported installation of the second defendant by the first defendant as the Ward Head of Ahwere or of any part in Laminga Ward ,Jos East Local Government Area, Plateau state .
“An orde of the court directing that the first defendant and the 4th defendant should tender a public apology to the claimant using the mass media within Plateau state State and same be published in two national daily news papers .
“An order of the court directing the defendants jointly and or severally to pay the claimant the sum of ten million naira only as damages for the psychological and emotional trauma suffered by the claimant as a result of the defendants action”
Our correspondent reports that although the first defendant was not in court but his lawyer, A Madaki, had argued that his client was not a party to the case earlier decided by the courts .
The defense counsel also argued that his client was not liable because as traditional rulers ,they were covered by public officers protection act which stipulates in Section 2a that any public officer who is in execution of his duties can not be liable for any wrong or ommision in the course of his duties .
But counsel to claimant had rejected the argument of the defense counsel and insisted that traditional rulers were not within the contemplation of the public officers protection act as they can not be subjected to discipline and promotion by the Ministry in the civil service nor were they entitled to pension and gratuity like other public servants .
Delivering judgement in the matter on Friday, Justice P Gang agreed with the submissions of the claimant’s counsel and granted the reliefs sought by them.
“All the reliefs are hereby resolved in favour of the claimant,” the judge ruled.