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Oba Adesayo tells own story, says no town is superior to others in Ikaleland

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For more than three decades, the Ikale communities inhabiting South Senatorial District of Ondo State have been embroiled in historical crises, as there are different perspectives about their origin and the first community to settle in the area.

This is exemplified in the protracted legal tussle over the title: Abodi of Ikaleland, which many traditional rulers and Ikale people argue is a misnomer, and limited to the people of Ikoya community, and not the entire Ikale.

At the forefront of the communal strife is the Ahaba of Ajagba, Oba Thomas Oluwole Adesayo, together with the Halu of Ode-Aye, Williams Akinlade, the Laragunsin of Iyansan, Oba Abiodun Oyewumi and the Obagberume of Igbodigo, Oba John Ebunola Ayeku, who sought a court injunction on behalf of all aggrieved members of the Council of Ikale Obas.

Oba George Babatunde Faduyile, the Abodi of Ikaleland, as confirmed by a recent court judgment, asserted that he has consenting authority over other monarchs in Ikale nation, thereby claiming seniority and attributing the source of Ikaleland to Ikoya.

This led to schism among the monarchs, who are polarised into two groups in the two Ikale local governments: Okitipupa and Irele, though some obas in the former rallied round Irele monarchs to question Abodi’s sovereignty.

Ikale is a sub-ethnic group and one of the notable dialects of the Yoruba race with distinct towns in Irele LGA: Ode-Irele (the Headquarters), Ode-Omi, Ode-Ajagba, Iyansan, Akotogbo and Ujosun. The last four were formerly grouped under Benin Confederation.

While towns in Okitipupa Local Government Area included Idepe-Okitipupa, Ikoya, Ode-Ayeka, Igbodigo, Igodan, Ode-Erinje, Igbisin-Oloto, Ode-Aye, Erekiti Luwoye, Ilutitun, Igbotako, Iju-Odo and Omotoso, they were formerly Ikale Local Government Area, with headquarters at Okitipupa till 1999, when Irele council was carved out as another local government.

They have borders with Odigbo people in the North, Edo State in the East, Ijaws, Arogbos, Apois and Ilajes in the South; and Ogun State in the West, where some of their kindred communities like Mobolorunduro, Ayila and Ayede are situated.

Oba Adesayo, leading the monarchs in Irele and Okitipupa for a palace revolt, as they challenged Oba Faduyile over his consenting authority in the area, refuted claims that Ikoya is superior to other Ikale towns.

On April 11, he launched a book, titled: “The History of Ajagba Kingdom (Ahaba Dynasty)” to commemorate his 20th Year Anniversary on the throne, asserting that only traditional rulers could give valid history of their communities.

At the three-day event that also featured conferment of chieftaincy titles, free medical care and award of excellence on former Editor of The Guardian, and now member of the Editorial Board, Mr. Martins Oloja, the monarch said the book was a child of necessity, as it was imperative for him, despite his busy schedule, to correct some errors about Ajagba Kingdom and the entire Ikale nation.

Oba Adesayo pointed out that many past historians had distorted the kingdom’s original history, noting that the 14 chapter, 56-page book was written to tell the community’s real story.

Oba Faduyile, the Abodi of Ikaleland in May last year during his 80th birthday and 20th Anniversary celebration on the throne also wrote a book, titled: “The making of Ikale.”

Contrary to Abodi’s claim, Ahaba said: “The (hi) story of Ajagba Kingdom has been seriously distorted by some writers, and even some motivational speakers, notably within the context of Ikaleland. Some publications have threatened to distort the organic history of the people, of many origins.

“This book is, therefore, intended to straighten the records. It seeks to serve as a profound treatise on the people that occupy the landscape called Ajagba.”

He recounted that Oronmaken, Orinuwa and Jowiri migrated from Ile-Ife in the 14th century and settled at Ugbo Kingdom in the present day Ilaje LGA. But Orinuwa later settled at Usen, near Siloko in Edo State.

Historical sources revealed that an Ugbo slave named Akoko, who was with Oronmaken and Jowiri, carted away the paraphernalia of office they brought from Ile-Ife and fled with some of their entourage one night.

Oba Adesayo said: “At dawn, Jowiri, who was the younger brother to Oronmaken, mysteriously converted a tree named Asorin to a magical boat. The aim was to trail and pursue Akoko, so that he could be recaptured.

“After much effort, they met Akoko at a place named Ojuolo, the present Ojuala in Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State. They fought bravely and subdued Akoko, who was beheaded by Jowiri. And so, Jowiri collected all the chieftaincy regalia from him and left for Ugbo.”

He said Jowiri was received by Oronmaken, who, in the meantime, had crowned himself king at Ugbo. He urged his younger brother to establish his own kingdom at the spot where he conquered the deviant slave.

“He said the place should be named Ajagba (A-ja-gba-de), which means we fought and recaptured him. The title of the Oba should be (A-ha-ba), which means we pursued him, met him and subdued him.

“So, Jowiri returned to Ojuolo and settled there. He became the Oba with a beaded crown. He settled in many places before he got to where Ajagba is today.

“It should be noted that the beaded crown the Ahaba wears today is directly from Ife since 14th century. The Asorin, which Jowiri turned into a magical boat was converted back to a tree, which is still with us in Ajagba till date.”

Historically, it was discovered that only Ode-Ajagba, among other Ikale and Yoruba towns, does not use Akoko leaf, the popular traditional leave for chieftaincy rites during conferment of chieftaincy titles.

Ahaba explained: “The Ajagba people have their peculiar ways of doing things because of the manner of emergence as a kingdom.

Ajagba people concluded that since Akoko was beheaded, he shouldn’t come to the palace, let alone his leaves. So, Ekikan leaves are used in place of Akoko leaves for our chieftaincy conferment.”

Dispelling age-long narratives on the source of Ikale people, he said: “The kingdom is the first in Ikale nation and so, the monarch was the first. I am persuaded that the correct history of a place will be a source of inspiration to the people and indeed future leaders of the area. They will know the reasons some things are done in certain ways. Ajagba Kingdom was founded in the 14th century, while others were founded in the 15th and 16th centuries.”

But last November, an Ondo State High Court, presided over by Justice O. A. Adegbehingbe, recognised Abodi as the paramount ruler of Ikaleland, dismissing the case filed by the aggrieved monarchs on the ground that it lacked merit.

The traditional rulers had prayed for an order restraining Oba Faduyile from parading himself as Abodi of Ikale land, and to restrict his lordship and authority to Ikoya in Okitipupa LGA, based on the instrument of his appointment and appointment letter.

They declared that no traditional ruler exercises paramountcy and consenting authority over the other in Ikaleland, based on Ikale people’s history, custom and tradition.

But the Abodi prayed the court to declare that, “the office described as ‘Abodi of Ikoya’ in the defendant/counter claimant’s instrument of office and in the declaration dated May 4, 1994 approved on May 26, 1994 and registered on June 1, 1994 is the same office.”

He added that the same instrument of letter of appointment, “which, by the history, native law and custom, customary and traditional usages of Ikale speaking people of Ondo State (claimants inclusive), is known and addressed as the ‘Abodi of Ikale land.”

Consequently, Faduyile sought, among others, a declaration that the
correct appellation of the Abodi, whose seat is at Ikoya, Ondo State, is the Abodi of Ikaleland.

After hearing the evidence of both parties, their witnesses and the counsels’ addresses, Justice Adegbehingbe dismissed the aggrieved monarchs’ claims as lacking merit, and declared their suit as an abuse of court process.

Among other requests granted in favour of the defendant, Oba Faduyile, the court pronounced that, “the Abodi is the flagship of all Obas amongst Ikale speaking people, and has always presided over any meeting of Ikale Obas, except when there is a vacancy in the office of the Abodi.”

Nonetheless, the book reviewer of “The History of Ajagba Kingdom,” Prof. Igbekele Ajibefun, the Vice Chancellor of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko (AAUA), praised the monarch for putting the history of his people down in writing.

Ajibefun, represented by Prof. Victor Olumekun, said the written form would prevent problems of communication gap, peculiar to oral history that has distorted several historical facts in many kingdoms.

The Vice Chancellor noted that the ascension of educated monarchs across Ikale towns would significantly improve the consciousness to properly document the people’s history.

The Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Tolu Odugbemi, the former Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos and the Chief Launcher and Vice Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP Southwest), Chief Eddy Olafeso, also lauded the monarch’s initiative.

Renowned historian and former Provost of Adeyemi College of Education (ACE), Ondo, Prof. Olukoya Ogen, said the book would be a reference point in the bid to document reliable history for Africa.

Ogen made a recourse to an erudite Malian scholar, Amadou Hampate Ba, who advocated the need for an error-proof socialisation from one generation to another, and to document the people’s history: “The death of any old man in Africa is like a whole library set on fire.”


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