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Suspense in Ibadan monarchy, as crises linger

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The controversy that trailed the review of Olubadan declaration by Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi and the protracted face-off between Oba Saliu Adetunji and members of Olubadan-in- council is getting worrisome, with fear of sudden removal of the monarch from office. This fear is palpable in the palace.

Some of the king’s loyalists, especially the Mogajis (family heads), are not ready to take chances or trust public pronouncements by the governor that he would not depose the monarch.

As at Thursday, September 28 afternoon, meetings were being held on how not to be caught napping in the palace with some subterranean moves being made by the governor, who had unsuccessfully done everything to make the monarch fall in line with thinking of government and some Ibadan elites that the ancient town is ripe enough to have more than one monarch, but with the Olubadan remaining the paramount ruler of the town.

Although Governor Ajimobi had promised not to use executive powers to depose the monarch, but his promise is being taken with a pinch of salt, because the root cause of the hullabaloo is yet to be addressed, while the gulf is being widened by centripetal occurrences, which promote mutual distrust among the feuding parties.

An analyst told The Guardian that the crisis has reached a stage of whether the monarch would remove some members of Olubadan-in- Council, who had pitched tent with government, by accepting the crown in defiance to Olubadan’s position, or the governor will use his executive powers to depose the monarch and banish him from Ibadan.

And to prevent government from wielding the big stick, the monarch and some Mogajis had instituted separate legal actions, praying the court to bar government or its agents from removing Oba Adetunji from office.

Even at that, the invasion of the palace on Monday September 25, by yet to be identified gunmen during installation of some Baales and Mogajis, has introduced a dangerous twist to the royal crisis.

The monarch, who has been at loggerheads with eight out of nine surviving members of the Olubadan-in- Council decided to install some Baales and Mogajis, to which his council objected. In a petition to the governor, which was made public, the Olubadan-in-Council said there was no meeting of the council and that such elevation must be discussed and approved by the council.

But Olubadan, who later described the Olubadan-in-Council as an advisory body, said he did not need its consent to perform his role as a monarch.

Some members of the Olubadan-in-Council agreed that the monarch has unfettered powers to veto any decision, but it ought to be discussed before he could use his powers.

The Olubadan-in-Council had reasoned that even in families and communities, where the Mogajis and Baales were to be installed, there were crises that needed to be resolved, but the monarch had made up his mind to go ahead.

Four Baales were scheduled to be installed at the event, but only two of them showed up. Those installed included the Baale of Lagelu Aboke Village in Lagelu Local council, Sayeed Aderemi Alatise, the Baale of Adigun Village in Ona Ara local council, while Tajudeen Oladejo Babaode, who was supposed to be installed as Baale Oyedeji Ojo Aro town in Akinyele local council and Pa Ezekiel Akinboade Ojedeju did not show up.

However, while the installation ceremony was going on, the unexpected happened. Five gunmen arrived the palace in a white Toyota Sienna Utility bus and shot sporadically to disperse those who came to witness the event.

For more than five minutes that the gun boom rented the air, people ran in different directions to save their dear lives. Journalists hid inside filthy drainage in front of the monarch’s Popoyemoja palace.

The hefty, fierce looking private security guards stationed to man the palace entrance gates immediately took to their heels on seeing the confidence with which the gunmen operated and the sophistication of their weapons.

After the ensuing milieu, caps and traditional beads of the chiefs were not only being picked from the floor, but gun pellets and other dangerous weapons were also harvested.

Former Secretary to Oyo State Government, Barrister Sharafadeen Alli, Asiwaju Babatunde Yusuff, and Adedokun Ayobami only escaped death by the whiskers.

They were caught inside Alli’s Toyota Land Cruiser Sport Utility Vehicle with registration number LAGOS EPE 447 ER, which was riddled with bullets.

Some dignitaries inside the palace said they thought it was local hunters that were spicing up the ceremony, but by the time they realised it was an invasion, it was too late to do anything.

Some of the dignitaries included the Osi Olubadan and former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, and Baamofin of Ibadanland, Senator Olufemi Lanlehin.

Oba Adetunji, who described the invasion of his palace as shocking and despicable, wondered why whoever has issues with him should not go to court for a redress, but chose to desecrate the palace.

The royal father said: “What happened on Monday was very shocking, to say the least, because choosing to confer minor chieftaincies like Mogaji and Baale on deserving individuals, is within ambit of chieftaincy laws. The central figure in that chieftaincy position is the Olubadan and the Olubadan-in-Council is just an advisory body; it is not a legal entity.

“Therefore, whether the Olubadan does it or not is not questionable. The arm of government that is saddled with the responsibility to challenge the Olubadan’s authority in respect of installation is the court, and not anybody or any threat from anyone.

“What I want people to know is that whatever anybody does, he does it for himself. Whoever refuses to do the right thing is doing it for himself. Whatever position we occupy today, so many people had been there in the past, and we did not even know we would get there.

“But today, we are occupying the positions, who knows who will be there tomorrow? The fact that we don’t know who will be there tomorrow should send a note of caution to us, that we must be wary of whatever we do with the position. What will people remember you for when you are no longer in office? I am using this medium to urge all and sundry to endeavour to do the right thing.”

However, in a swift reaction, members of the Olubadan-in-Council denied any involvement in the shooting spree that occurred in the palace.

The Otun Olubadan, Oba (Senator) Lekan Balogun condemned the attack and urged the police to be thorough in its investigation and bring the culprits to justice.

Former Governor Rashidi Ladoja, who was accused of instigating the monarch against government said: “The hoodlums that just invaded the palace can be said to have been engineered by some people. I don’t understand why people refuse to follow the normal procedure. If you think that something is wrong, go to court.

“I saw the advertisement in the papers, whereby they were challenging the palace of Olubadan’s right to install new Baales. If they feel bad about it, they should go to court. They should not start creating fear in people’s minds.

“Nobody that has got the exclusivity of violence, but we normally prefer to do our things legally. The courts are there. They should try to go to the court if they feel what Olubadan is doing is illegal.

“Let me remind you that Olubadan-in-Council is an advisory body to the Olubadan. If you are supposed to advise somebody, he has a right to accept your advice or reject it. So, I don’t understand why people cannot just follow simple decorum. I don’t understand why people would take laws into their hands by sending hoodlums to this place.”

Ajimobi, who immediately summoned a security meeting to address the issue, also condemned the attack. The meeting was attended by service commanders from the Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigerian Customs Service, Federal Road Safety Corps and Air Force, among others.

The governor also accused the opposition of stage-managing the attack to discredit his government. But he said the opposition failed to achieve its aim, because his government does not have history of violence.

Ajimobi did not mince words by accusing his arch political rival, Ladoja of plans to orchestrate violence in the state to score political points and warned the monarch not to be pushed by “failed politicians.”

Ajimobi said no matter the level of provocation and opposition to recent installation of new obas in Ibadanland, he would not depose the Olubadan, who he described as his father.

He also appealed to members of the Obas-in-Council and all other newly installed obas in Ibadanland to extend the olive branch to Olubadan, by visiting him as a way of assuring the paramount ruler that they bore no grudge against him.

The governor said: “Despite being vested with enormous powers of suspension and deposition of erring monarch, as enshrined in Cap 28, Section 26 (1) of the Chiefs Laws of Oyo State 2000, I will not invoke such powers over the Ibadan monarch.”

The section reads, “The governor may suspend or depose any chief (oba), whether appointed before or after the commencement of this law, if it is satisfied that such suspension or deposition is required according to customary law or is necessary in the interest of peace or order or good government.’’

Ajimobi said: “Let me state that the existing chieftaincy law gives any governor power to remove any traditional ruler, who engages in activities that can jeopardise the peace of his domain.

“I should also add that Kabiyesi, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, has of recent been engaging in certain activities that are inimical to the peace and tranquility of Ibadan.

“Only recently, Olubadan embarked on a roadshow across Ibadan, waving horsetail to bystanders in an apparent attempt to incite people against government. Such actions could have pitted the antagonists and protagonists of installation of new obas against one another.

“This is capable of plunging Ibadan metropolis into a crisis of unimaginable proportion, if not for the understanding and support of the people for government. But no matter what happens, I assure you I will never depose the Olubadan. He remains my father. His palace is just being used by failed politicians, especially the Accord Party leader, Chief Rashidi Ladoja, to re-launch his faded political career.”

Ajimobi, who described the royal father as a good man, with liberal disposition, however, expressed regret that he has allowed his palace to be hijacked by those he called failed politicians and serial losers.

He said their plans were not only to heat up the polity, but to also return Ibadan metropolis to the dark days when arson, violence and brigandage reigned supreme, all targeted at the 2019 general elections.

The governor disclosed, “Reports at our disposal indicate that the crisis that had trailed the appointment of new obas in Ibadan and the gun attack on the Olubadan palace on Monday might have been masterminded by these failed politicians.

“They have taken advantage of Kabiyesi’s advanced age to carry out their nefarious activities and use the palace as centre of opposition to government. What they failed to achieve through the ballot box, they want to achieve through the backdoor.

“Our government is not for violence. We don’t encourage brigandage. It is people like Ladoja, who have been promoting violence that were behind the attack on Olubadan’s palace. It was during Ladoja’s regime that gunmen shot into the late Baba (Lamidi) Adedibu’s house because of his opposition to him.”

The Balogun of Ibadanland, Oba Owolabi Olakulehin, expressed appreciation to the governor for the mature way he handled the opponents’ provocative activities on the recent review of the Olubadan Chieftaincy Law.

Olakulehin recalled what he called the overwhelming support members of the then Olubadan-in-Council gave Oba Adetunji during his nomination as Olubadan-designate and his eventual colorful coronation by the state government.

He, however, alleged that the foremost traditional ruler has treated them with disdain and had embarked on activities that could tarnish the revered Olubadan stool.

Oba Olakulehin cited the “unilateral removal of Alhaja Abake Lawal as the Iyaloja of Ibadanland by Oba Adetunji” allegedly on the excuse that she was not an Ibadan indigene despite opposition by the Olubadan-in-Council.



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