By Ola Ajayi
GOVERNOR Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State did everything necessary to ensure the installation of Oba Saliu Adetunji as the 41st Olubadan of Ibadanland on March 4, 2016. Even in the face of stiff resistance from another contender to the throne, Chief Adebayo Oyediji and other members of Seriki line, the governor stood firmly with the monarch.
The relationship was so cordial that the monarch, in recognition of the immeasurable contribution of the governor to his enthronement, honoured the governor and his wife, Mrs Florence Ajimobi, as Aare and Yeye Aare of Ibadanland respectively.
But, some chieftaincy titles which the monarch conferred on some people and his attempt to remove Chief Mrs Labake Lawal as Iyaloja of Ibadanland and replace her with another candidate, Alhaja Iswat Abiola Ameringun may have created a cold war between the monarch and the governor.
Balogun of Ibadanland, Chief Saliu Adetunji
While the monarch believes he has absolute powers as far as`the traditional institution is concerned, the governor feels the Olubadan-in-council should get his approval before any appointment or promotion of chiefs is made.
The government has insisted that: “There are laid down rules and regulation guiding the emergence and installation of a traditional chief, as enshrined in the Chiefs Laws of Oyo State of Nigeria, 2000, CAP 28. Although Section 20 (1, 2 and 3) regulates such appointment, Section 20 (1) specifically reads, “Subject to the provisions of this section, the governor may approve or set aside an appointment of a recognized chief.”
The Iyaloja politics
The strained relationship became public knowledge few weeks ago when the monarch had finalized preparations to appoint a new Iyaloja. But, the new appointment was reportedly thwarted by the state government by ensuring that security agents were stationed there to prevent the monarch from installing the new Iyaloja. According to information gathered, Chief Mrs Labake Lawal, the deposed Iyaloja had refused to relinquish the title saying she did not do anything wrong to warrant being removed in such an inglorious manner.
Determined to fight her cause, the embattled Iyaloja had involved eminent personalities both from within and outside Ibadan to prevail on the Olubadan to desist from instal the Ameringun as her replacement. According to the Olubadan’s palace itinerary for that day, seven people had been listed for conferment of chieftaincy titles.
While the remaining six were installed, the new Iyaloja to be installed went back home without being conferred with the title. Vanguard gathered that the heavy presence of uninvited security agents surprised Oba Adetunji who reportedly called a former president to brief him about the unusual presence of security men in his palace.
The former president was said to have called the governor to ask what was happening and advised him to be careful with the traditional institution. While this was going on, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Sam Adegbuyi, suddenly appeared at the palace to see the Olubadan behind closed doors.
After the meeting, the monarch reportedly rescinded his decision to reduce tension by putting on hold the installation of the new Iyaloja. A palace source who was not authorised to speak on the matter said he didn’t know those who changed the mind of the Olubadan, but added that “they were strong enough to prevail on him (Olubadan).”
Before the eventual removal of Iyaloja, the monarch had set up a committee to look into the crisis rocking the Ibadan Market Traders Association. The action of the monarch was necessitated by the numerous market leaders who stormed his palace to discuss the controversy that propelled them to ask for her removal. At that stage, the Olubadan explained that the Iyaloja issues deserved thorough investigation noting that a committee of three neutral people would be constituted.
According to him, thorough investigation into the matter would return peace to the market place and strengthen the unity and cohesiveness of the traders who have been polarised. They were, therefore, asked to hand-over their petition and all relevant documents to the secretary to the Olubadan-in-Council. It was after the report of the committee that the monarch announced her removal.
Ibadan Joint Traders Association’s position: But, the Ibadan Joint Traders Association, faulted the purported removal of the Iyaloja of Ibadanland, describing it as a mere tissue of lies and a calculated effort by some disgruntled elements in the association to cause confusion, rift and enmity among the traders.
Speaking on behalf of the group in a joint stakeholders press conference which held at the Association House, Labaowo market, the secretary of the board of trustees, Prince Waheed Apanpa, accused Alhaji Dauda Oladepo of being the mastermind of the manipulations.
Alhaji Apanpa said: “As you are all aware, there have been various write-ups, news both on the traditional and social media as regards the purported removal of Chief Mrs. Labake Lawal as the Iyaloja of Ibadanland.
Association to cause confusion
“Let me state that, it was all a lie, a calculated effort by some disgruntled elements in the association to cause confusion, rifts and enmity among the Ibadan Joint Traders Association. Two, the news also goes further to turn the backs of the Iyalode and Iyaloja of Ibadanland against each other. This is another big lie and fruitless effort to stage a coup in an age like this.
“Let me first state here that the Iyaloja can never and will never look the Iyalode in the face, she represents an institution that is sacred and the Iyaloja, Chief Mrs. Labake has always looked to her as a mentor, mother and counsellor in all ramifications. How can someone wake up and announce the dethronement of a chieftaincy title conferred legitimately by the highly revered Olubandan-in-Council on somebody else with impunity and disregard?
“Therefore, going by the enormity of the accusation and the aim of bringing the traders into disrepute and at loggerheads with Ibadan traditional institution, I, as the secretary of the board of trustees of the association and with the consent of the market leaders and stakeholders.”
He further stated that: “It was alleged by these disgruntled elements that Chief Mrs. Labake Lawal mismanaged the finances of the association, hence Oladepo group resorted to personally malign and destroy her through the social media. We then asked where whose interest?
“It was all a calculated effort to stage a coup and just because Chief Mrs. Labake put the interest of the members at heart, protecting their interest and not allow the scavengers, hawks and self centred people to have their way to loot and cart away the Association’s money, he resorted to acts of brigandage and lost his soul to the devil.
At a time when accountability, transparency, equity and justice are being preached to push our nation forward which Chief Mrs. Labake Lawal epitomizes, Dauda Oladepo is the opposite,” he said.
The Baale of Ejioku Brouhaha: Though the installation of Baale of Ejioku, Prince Bashiru Adesina, has been settled amicably after the intervention of a lawmaker, it initially created some brouhaha as the state government nullified his installation.
The message of the state government was conveyed by the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mr. Bimbo Kolade, expressing government’s displeasure at the development, which, he said, contravened laid down rules guiding the appointment of Part II recognized chiefs.
The ministry said its October 17, 2016, letter to Lagelu LG, which was received by the Director, Administration and General Services, Mr. Kolawole Popoola, mandating it to provide certain documents as proof that the due process had been followed, was yet to be complied with.
In the letter, the ministry had requested the LG to provide a “public notice issued by the LG on the vacant stool; certificate of appointment issued by the kingmakers (in respect of the chosen candidate); as well as the attendance sheet listing those that attended the family and the kingmakers’ meetings.”
The letter by the ministry’s Director of Chieftaincy Matters, Mr. Zaccheaus Jayeola, also mandated the LG to submit the letter written by the LG conveying the approval of the state government to the next ruling house to fill the vacant stool.
The last may not have been heard on the issue as the state government has resolved to ensure that activities in the traditional council follow due process.
Baale of Olode’s removal: Another chieftaincy title that caused a stir in the ancient city of Ibadan was the deposition of Baale of Oloode in Oluyole Local Government, Chief Lukman Ilufemiloye Alao and installation of a new person, Odeyemi Wasiu. The manner of his removal was so shocking to Chief Alao, who had claimed that he didn’t do anything to warrant removal from office, that he quickly approached the court to seek redress.
But, he and his family members got the beating of their lives when he attempted to serve the court process on the defendants. The beating was so serious that he was rushed to the Adeoyo Medical Hospital, Ibadan for treatment.
The injured community ruler who also had his SUV Lexus car vandalised recounted his ordeal on hospital bed saying he had gone to Olode village where his subjects were to tell them that he had got a court injunction challenging his removal when the thugs descended on him and his family members.
He said: “Apart from my car that was vandalised, they collected N150, 000 cash I had on me, gold necklace, wristwatch, gold ring and my shoes.”
Explaining how the thugs swooped on him, he noted, “I had gone to the community, where I reside to paste a court injunction I got challenging my illegal removal as Baale when thugs started chasing my car. They started the chase from Fatusi but my car broke down and thugs with many motorcycles pounced on me, my wife and younger brother who were with me in the car.
We were beaten but because I was the target, I was heavily beaten. I was thereafter rushed to the Olubadan’s palace to show the king what they had done to me before I was eventually taken to the hospital.
“My removal was illegal because I was never informed, called or even showed any evidence or petition written against me before the news filtered around town.
“Although, I would be willing to abide by whatever decision or judgment of the court, but I have decided to challenge my removal in court to prove that if indeed there was evidence of wrong doing against me, I would have been summoned to the palace, stripped of my title and my certificate of title conferment withdrawn from me, but that was not to be,” he said.
The suspects were thereafter arraigned in court.