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Onibeju stool: Alleged manipulation of selection process stirs controversy

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Late Oba Dr. Rafiu Olusegun Salami

Barely seven months after the last Onibeju of Ibeju-Lekki, His Royal Majesty, Oba Olusegun Rafiu Salami, transited on June 3, 2020, the process of selecting his successor, has been mired in high-wire politics and intrigues.
 
In fact, it is alleged that the politicisation of the process, if not decisively tackled could lead to mayhem, hence the need for concerned authorities to apply the instrument of the law in accordance with the declaration made under Section 4(2) of the Obas and Chiefs Laws of 1957 to douse the brewing tension.

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Specifically, the attention of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, his predecessor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, and the Attorney General/Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN have been drawn to the schemings by some unscrupulous kingmakers, who are allegedly planning to manipulate the selection process.
 
Some aggrieved members of the Oniwonlu Royal Family of Ibeju Kingdom, who raised the alarm, said it was necessary for the governor to intervene and to stop the affected politicians, who are bent on manipulating some kingmakers to foist a “candidate” that is not a blue blood to ascend the throne.
 
One of the factors aggravating the selection process, and also attracting the interest of politicians is that the Onibeju is one of the biggest monarchs and landowners in Lagos, and it is also a first-class king, who is in charge of a vast expanse of land in Ibeju-Lekki area.

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Some prime projects located within the kingdom are the ongoing Lekki Free Trade Zone, the Dangote Refinery, and the proposed deep sea port among others. As a matter of fact, Ibeju is considered as part of the most strategic area for future development, and an economic nerve centre in Lagos State.
 
In a petition dated August 19, 2020, precisely two months and 16 days after Oba Salami’s passage, members of the Oniwonlu Royal Family of Ibeju Kingdom alleged plans to manipulate the selection and nomination process in favour of a particular contestant that has no blood affiliation, in whatever way, with any of royal houses in Ibeju.
 
The family said it is one of the ancient three ruling houses of Ibeju Kingdom in accordance with the declaration made under Section 4 (2) of the Obas and Chiefs Law of 1957 regulating the selection to the stool of Oba Onibeju of Ibeju Kingdom that has the right to produce the king.
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The petition, which was backed by another public notice on January 12, 2021 reads: “The larger Oniwonlu Royal family of Ibeju Kingdom, Ibeju-Lekki Local Government Area of Lagos State, and in our capacity as an accredited principal and indigenous Obaship selection committee for the Oniwonlu Royal Dynasty of Ibeju Kingdom to fill the vacant Oba Onibeju stool, we hereby write this joinder to put the record straight thus: that Rasaq Wasiliu Olasunkanmi Oguntolu is not an indigenous member of the Oniwonlu Royal Dynasty of Ibeju Kingdom whatsoever, that the Oguntolu Family of Airapagi-Wajoba Village in Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos State has no royal lineage with the Oniwonlu Royal Family of Ibeju Kingdom, and that not being an indigene, Rasaq Waliu Olasunkanmi Oguntolu and others, can never be eligible to contest for the ancient Royal stool of Oba Onibeju of Ibeju Kingdom.”
 
The petition was signed by Prince Adewale Lawal, Prince Adegunwa Adeboyejo, Prince Quadri Babatunde Surakat Idogun, Prince Sikìru Adeniran, and Prince Seedeeq Sharafadeen Adewale Oniwonlu, and addressed to Sanwo-Olu, the state House of Assembly and others.
 
The Oniwonlu Royal family said it would appreciate if the Lagos State government uses the instrument of the law in going about the consideration, selection, and installation of the 20th Oba of Ibeju Kingdom as a way of fostering peace, unity and progress in the area.
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However, some concerned members of the family also faulted the selection committee (which include the five signatories to the petition) for maliciously edging out one of its own, Prince Wasiu Adeboye Adefuwa, another contestant for the vacant stool over a so-called Ifa pronouncement to the effect that he (Adefuwa) has a scar on his right hand, and therefore could not be nominated based on physical deformity.
 
Some concerned members of the kingdom, therefore called on Governor Sanwo-Olu to, as a matter of urgency, intervene and stop the shenanigans surrounding the ongoing selection process, insisting that it would be highly appreciated if state government applies the instrument of law in going about the selection of the next monarch, instead of the distorted pronunciation of Ifa, which according to them, does not represent the interest of the royal family, or the kingdom.
   
The in-house manipulating process within the Oniwonlu Royal Family may have given the kingmakers the opportunity to attempt to distort the process in favour of a non-royal family member.
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Contrary to physical disability clause placed on Adefuwa, the contestant is said to be the most qualified aspirant having worked for several years in two major reputable newspapers organisations in the country until he retired last year. 
 
Although, he had a domestic fire accident years back that left a minor scar on his right hand, the wound is not as conspicuous as the committee painted in its report.
 
A reliable source disclosed that the scar being referred to on Adefuwa’s right hand is nothing that could be regarded as a deformity as it, in no way impairs the functioning of the said hand. 
 
Sources also faulted the committee, saying there was nowhere that Adefuwa was denied employment, or promotion on the basis of a so-called physical deformity.

Indigenes of Ibeju also seek the intervention of leaders and elders of the state, especially Governor Sanwo-Olu to investigate the matter.
 
Efforts to get the lawmaker representing the area in the state House of Assembly, Fatai Mojeed failed, as he was not on seat when the reporter visited his office, nor did he return calls, or reply a text message to his phone.

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