Hotel Demolition: ‘General’ Obaseki worse than Abacha – Henry Idahagbon

Says Benin Ancestors will ask him questions for committing taboo

Reacting to Wednesday’s demolition of a multi-million naira hotel which belonged to Tony Adun, aka Tony Kabaka, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Edo State loyal to the national chairman of the ruling party, Adams Oshiomhole, the co-convener of the rested Edo People’s Movement, EPM, Henry Idahagbon has described the governor’s action as “the biggest travesty of justice in Nigeria’s legal cum political history since 1986 when the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Ojukwu against the military governor of Lagos State was decided”. He also accused Obaseki of committing a taboo against the custom and tradition of Benin Kingdom for pulling down a dwelling house. Idahagbon, a former attorney-general and commissioner for justice in the immediate past Oshiomhole administration explained that “in that case, the military government of Lagos State pulled down one of the houses of Odumegwu Ojukwu in Ikoyi, GRA, Lagos, during the pendency of a suit” noting that “even though it was a military government, the court descended on the government and ordered that the house must be rebuilt before the case can even be concluded. So, for Obaseki to proceed to demolish Kabaka’s hotel today Wednesday, February 5  when he’s aware through his attorney-general, and solicitor-general that judgment had been reserved in the case for Friday, February 7, is the biggest travesty of justice in the legal history of this country”.

Henry Idahagbon Photo
Henry Idahagbon

Idahagbon told the magazine that the judgment was originally scheduled for Monday, February 3, but had to be deferred till this Friday because the judge had a seminar to attend. “So, the question Edo people should ask Obaseki is why would he not just wait for 48 hours for the judgment of the court?”, he stated.  On the claim that an earlier injunction granted Kabaka had been vacated by the state government, Idahagbon held that “in law, with or without restraining order, and I stand on that same Ojukwu and government of Lags State issue that had not been reversed, once there is a matter before the court, both parties before the court are enjoined in law not to foist a situation of helplessness upon the court. And how do you foist a situation of helplessness on the court? By obliterating the res in the case, that is the object of dispute. They have demolished the hotel today. What if the court gives judgment on Friday to the effect that Kabaka’s hotel is legal; that he’s the owner of the land? So, what happens? Where is the hotel? So, it has nothing to do with restraining order or no restraining order. As long as the matter is in court between both parties, and they are aware that the matter is in court, they ought not to foist a situation of helplessness on the court”.

Idahagbon hinted that “we will reply to them legally by tomorrow (Thursday). So, Obaseki is the biggest modern-day dictator. He is even worse than Abacha. Some days ago in Opoji, I said people should stop calling him Godwin Kayode Nogheghase Obaseki; they should start calling him General Godwin Obaseki. He is the first person that earned his Generalship rank not by being a military officer, but by conduct”.

Upbraiding the governor for contravening the custom and tradition of the people of Benin Kingdom by pulling down a dwelling house, Idahagbon posited that “it is a taboo for which our ancestors will ask him questions”. He said it is also a taboo in Benin to go to a person’s farm and cut down food crops. “Even though the land is your own, you will wait for me to harvest my food crops first because the logic of our forefathers is that such a thing can lead to famine. So, what he has done today is a major and fundamental taboo. He’s done it before with, unfortunately, the same family – Bob Izua (John Osamede Adun, a Benin traditional chief). He pulled down his house”. The former number one law officer in the state stated that “Obaseki should be told that Benin City is not Kwara where the governor there can pull down Ile Arugbo of the Sarakis; Benin City is not Kaduna where the governor there pulled down Shehu Sani’s house; Benin City is not Zamfara where the governor .. This is Benin City; we are the cradle of custom and tradition in this country. So, our ancestors from this night, they will start asking him questions. In any case, they have started asking him questions long time ago. But they will intensify the questions from this night”.

The magazine gathered that when the governor first mooted the idea of demolishing the hotel September last year, Kabaka had approached the palace of the Oba of Benin for intervention. It could however not be ascertained if the palace was able to reach out to the governor. Speaking in parable to depict Obaseki’s obduracy and misguided actions, Idahagbon however retorted that “it is a dog that will get lost during hunting expedition that doesn’t listen to the whistling of the owner anymore”.

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