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Legal hurdle clouds Olubadan succession

By Seye Olumide and Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan)
04 January 2022   |   3:52 am
Twenty-four hours after the passage of Oba Saliu Adetunji, some Ibadan chiefs, yesterday, held a meeting at the home of the Otun Olubadan of Ibadanland, Chief Lekan Balogun...

Olubadan of Ibadanland

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Twenty-four hours after the passage of Oba Saliu Adetunji, some Ibadan chiefs, yesterday, held a meeting at the home of the Otun Olubadan of Ibadanland, Chief Lekan Balogun, who is expected to become the new Olubadan.

The chiefs, who met at the Ali Iwo home of High Chief Balogun, yesterday afternoon, included the Osi Balogun of Ibadanland, High Chief Abdulateef Gbadamosi Adebimpe; Balogun of Ibadanland, High Chief Owolabi Olakuleyin; Asia Olubadan, High Chief Eddy Oyewole; Ekarun Olubadan, High Chief Amidu Ajibade, among others.

It was gathered that the chiefs met over the next line of action following the demise of Oba Adetunji on Sunday. The late Olubadan was buried on Sunday at the Popoyemoja palace.

It was gathered that the Osi Olubadan, Senator Rasheed Ladoja, was not at the meeting. Recall that he was the only high chief who turned down the Obaship title the administration of late Governor Abiola Ajimobi conferred on others. He subsequently took the then administration to court over the review of the chieftaincy title.

MEANWHILE, there are strong indications that legal tussle may affect the appointment and installation of the next Olubadan. This is contrary to the general position that the Otun Olubadan should automatically step in as the next Olubadan in line with tradition, as Governor Seyi Makinde has been advised to exercise some restraint before installing a new monarch.

Most of the stakeholders in Ibadan, including former governor Rashidi Ladoja, refused to speak on the issue when beckoned on yesterday. Those who reluctantly spoke off the record said: “The issue is very delicate.”

As a matter of fact, some of them cautioned that any unguarded comments or remarks now could spark off crisis and that Governor Makinde also needed to exercise serious restraint before taking any action that could cost him re-election in 2023.”

But a former Attorney-General of Oyo State, Michael Lana, in a letter to the governor, yesterday, argued that Lekan Balogun is unfit to be crowned as the next Olubadan.

The lawyer cited some ongoing legal cases that affected the eligibility of Balogun to become the Olubadan, saying that installing Balogun as Olubadan would amount to an “aberration and illegality.”

According to the ex-Attorney-General, Balogun, some high chiefs and Baales had been earlier conferred their titles by the late Abiola Ajimobi, when he was the governor.

Part of the letter read: “Kindly note, your Excellency, that your predecessor in office, without thinking of the legal effects of his actions on the future of Ibadan traditional institution, conferred the title of Obaship on some high chiefs and Baales and gave them the right to wear beaded crowns and coronets in 2017.

“This action was challenged in suit No. M317/ 2017-high chief Rashid Ladoja V the governor of Oyo State.

“However, the Court of Appeal in Appeal No.CA/111/99/ 2018 set aside the said judgment of Aiki J on technical grounds without touching on the merit of the case and sent the case back for retrial.

“Upon your assumption of office, it was resolved that the matter be settled amicably and the same was settled through the instrumentality of a Terms of Settlement, which became the judgment of the court.

“The said Terms of Settlement recognised the illegality of the said actions, and therefore, set aside the gazettes by which the said chiefs became Obas with a right to wear beaded crowns and coronets.

“These high chiefs and Baales were dissatisfied with this consent judgment and therefore instituted two separate suits to set aside the consent judgment while at the same time clinging to the title of Obas (which actually is in contempt of court). One of these cases is Suit No. I/ 22/ 2020-HRM Oba (senator) Lekan Balogun & ors V governor of Oyo state & ors.”

The lawyer further explained that though the judgment amended the Ibadan chieftaincy customary law, “the Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration of 1957 was not amended and therefore remains extant.”

He added: “Under that declaration and all relevant law, no Oba can ascend to the throne of Olubadan.

“In other words, as long as the high chiefs still cling to the title of Oba, they cannot ascend to that throne and any installation of any of them during the pendency of that suit is illegal, null and void.

“It is in line with this legal situation that I advice, most humbly, that you should withhold any approval of any high chief to become the Olubadan so that you will not also join in the desecration of Ibadan chieftaincy customary law.”

Lana explained that until the cases are concluded or withdrawn, Balogun would be unfit to be installed as Olubadan.

“If the court holds that they have the right to be Obas and entitled to wear beaded crowns, then they are perpetually barred from becoming another Oba. Nowhere in the customary law of any Yoruba town is an Oba elevated to become another Oba.

“On the other hand, if the court holds that the Terms of Settlement stands, and their Obaship title is illegal, then they are free to be elevated to the post of Olubadan.”

Reacting, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, said: “As you can see, today is a public holiday. Offices are not opened. The Attorney-General has confirmed to me that he is not in possession of any such letter from Lana.”

HOWEVER, to douse the tension, members of the Olubadan-in-Council, yesterday, condoled with Governor Makinde, the people of Ibadanland and family members of the late monarch.

Rising from a two-hour closed-door meeting held at the Alarere residence of Otun Olubadan and the would-be successor to the throne, the Olubadan-in- Council, described the deceased leader of the Council as an indefatigable ruler whose reign would be difficult to forget.

While praying for the repose of the soul of the departed king, the Council urged the bereaved family to remain joyous and happy for the legacies of good reign left behind by their patriarch.

The Council reiterated that the historical and traditional succession plan to the throne of Olubadan remains sacrosanct, the elevation conferred on all the members of the Olubadan-in-Council as Royal Majesties notwithstanding.

The Olubadan-in-Council said the elevation granted the members, who also serve as kingmakers, had not in any way altered the age-long and enviable traditional succession plan to the Olubadan throne in Ibadanland.

According to the Council, “there should be no controversy as to who becomes the next Olubadan among us as the previous elevation that made us Royal Majesties did not in any way affect our respective offices in the Olubadan-in-Council and would not preclude any of us to mount the Olubadan throne whenever it is the person’s turn.

“We are the kingmakers and we will do the needful at the appropriate time. For now, we are still all in the mourning mood of our departed father and revered leader in the Council and we just want to assure the generality of our people both home and in the diaspora that there’s no cause for alarm,” the Council added.

The Baale of Ekotede, Dr. Taiye Ayorinde, said Lekan Balogun should normally become the next Olubadan.

“The succession programme is that Ibadan chieftaincy is based on a hierarchical rotational system. Normally, the next person should be Lekan Balogun. But unfortunately, what we don’t understand is how does he place the first crown he had?

“In any case, nothing is difficult that cannot be resolved. He should be forgiven. Ibadan should forgive him and also overlook the mistakes of the past governor in installing some Obas in Ibadan.

“Only the kingmakers, the Olubadan-in-Council can nominate the king, which means they have to find a way of sorting it. They are the only ones that can do it. They have to make a recommendation to the governor.

“But rumour has it that the relationship between Lekan Balogun and the current governor is not a smooth one. We can only pray the governor does not believe in victimisation and he follows what is in the history and tradition of Ibadan.”

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