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Ekiti monarchs battle Fayemi over traditional council chairmanship

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Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi

Ordinarily, royal fathers are known for their peace advocacy in their domains. They are expected to halt any insurrection or protect the interest of constituted authority. But how would one describe a scenario where royal fathers and traditional rulers are up in arms against constituted authority?

The history of the traditional institution in Ekiti Divison Of Ondo Province, otherwise known as Pelupelu, started after the end of Kiriji war in 1886, with 16 monarchs, including the Deji of Akure and Owa Olobo of Obo Ayegunle Ekiti.

An adjustment was effected, when Akure decided to secede and form Akure Kingdom through Ajapada. Obo was also ceded to Kwara. So, the Elemure of Emure Ekiti, Attah of Ayede and Olomuo were screened by the then Obas and absorbed into Pelupelu.

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This history was captured by Ajero of Ijero, Oba Joseph Adewole, as part of the documents attached to the originating summon filed by the counsel and deposed to by Ajero on behalf of other Obas, who are suing Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.

The Pelupelu Obas include Ajero of Ijero, Alara of Aramoko, Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Ogoga of Ikere, Olomuo of Omuo, Attah of Ayede, Onitaji of Itaji, Oloye of Oye, Arinjale of Ise, Ologotun of Ogotun, Elemure of Emure, Alaaye of Efon, Owa Ooye of Okemesi and Olojudo of Ido Faboro, the Elekole of Ikole Ekiti and Onisan of Isan.

However, since 1999, every successive government in Ekiti had politicised the revered institution by allegedly promoting people without taking into consideration the traditions and customary laws. 

Another letter, purportedly signed by the Special Adviser to Governor Fayemi, Chief Aderemi Ajayi, on September 17, 2014, upgraded four monarchs and the beneficiaries of such promotion increased the number of the Pelupelu Obas to 22.

Whereas the Chieftaincy Law 3 of 2000, enacted under the Adeniyi Adebayo administration and the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers Committee Resolution of June 19, 2001, indicated that there was 31 Grade A Obas, but only 16 of them are Pelupelu. Part of the resolutions than was that the chieftaincy edict allowed only the 16 Pelupelu Obas to rotate the traditional council chairmanship at the state and local government levels.

Before now, the chairmanship was rotated among the 16 monarchs from the state’s three geopolitical zones. For instance, the Ologotun was from the South senatorial district. He handed over to Oloye Of Oye Ekiti from the Northern senatorial district. So, the Central senatorial district ought to produce the next chairman in that order. What is more, Ologotun, who held the position before the immediate past chairman, is from the same local government as the new chairman.

Despite political interference, no Governor had ever gone outside the original 16 Pelupelu Obas, since Old Ondo State and now, only the 16 Alademerindinlogun were considered for council chairman.

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This was why the monarchs were jolted, when they heard news of the appointment of Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Oba Adebanji Alabi, as Chairman of Ekiti State Traditional Council to serve for a period of two years, following the expiration of Oloye of Oye Ekiti, Oba Oluwole Ademolaju’s tenure. He was appointed by 
Governor Kayode Fayemi.

The 16 prominent monarchs described this development and Fayemi’s action as a flagrant violation of Ekiti State Chieftaincy Law. This was because the Pelupelu Obas have not all had their turns.

Although no reason was advanced for the Governor’s action, it was learned that the new Chairman was loyal to Fayemi, even at the risk of facing any backlash from the then Governor Ayodele Fayose.

“It was an open secret that the monarchs, especially the prominent ones, were fully in support of Ayodele Fayose, prior to the governorship election in 2018. Therefore, given its sensitive nature, the Governor felt the position should go to a trusted ally,” a political commentator who craved anonymity said.

Besides, Ilawe-Ekiti community boasts of many illustrious sons in and outside politics that could easily influence the choice of the revered monarch without much ado.

Displeased with this state of affairs, the 16 Obas headed to the court. Joined in the suit with the registration number HAD/76/2019 are Governor Kayode Fayemi (1st defendant), Attorney General of Ekiti State, Wale Fapohunda (2nd defendant) and Oba Adebanji Alabi (3rd defendant).

An originating summons, filed by Dr. B.A.M. Ajibade (SAN) on August 7, 2019, and deposed to by Ajero of Ajero, Oba Joseph Adewole, on behalf of other 15 Obas, sought an interlocutory injunction restraining Fayemi from swearing-in Alawe as the Chairman of the Council.

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The monarchs sought the following declarations:  whether the 1st defendant is empowered under Council of Traditional Rulers Law, Cap 15, Laws of Ekiti State 2012 to appoint the chairman of Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers on a bi-annual rotational basis from amongst only the class of Obas constituted Alademerindinlogun/Pelupelu Obas of Ekiti State.

“That the claimants are the only valid authentic Obas or traditional rulers under the classification of Alademerindinlogun qualified to be so appointed as Chairman.

“A declaration that the 3rd respondent can’t be appointed as Chairman of the council in consonance with Ekiti State Traditional Council Law.

“A declaration that the appointment of the 3rd defendant by the 1st was a flagrant violation of the law, unlawful, null and void, unjustifiable, illegal and unsustainable.

“An order nullifying the appointment of the 3rd defendant as the Chairman of the council of traditional rulers.

“An order of perpetual injunction, restraining the 3rd defendant as chairman of the traditional council and other relevant orders as deem fit by the court.”

The aggrieved monarchs insisted that by composition, the Council of Ekiti State Traditional Rulers has Permanent and rotational members.

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“The statute stipulated that the permanent and rotational members shall be appointed by the Governor from among the recognised traditional rulers In Ekiti State.

“There shall be a chairman for the council who shall be appointed by the Governor on bi-annual rotation among the Pelupelu Obas in the state.”

In a letter earlier written to the Governor on August 2 and signed by 15 Pelupelu Obas, with the exception of Oore of Otun, Oba Adedapo Popoola, who travelled abroad, the monarchs told Fayemi to reverse the action, saying a court had earlier struck out a suit filed by five monarchs, who were promoted to Pelupelu and seeking recognition of that status.

They said the promotion of Alawe, Olosi, Olojudo (Ido Ile), Arajaka and Oluyin to the Pelupelu rank by government, was an erosion of tradition, as all the appointments were done in violation of the tradition and existing laws.

They said they were opposed to the appointment and threatened not to attend the inauguration of Alawe as Council Chairman and any meeting of the council he presides over.

“We respectfully state that we would be creating a bad precedent to accept to sit under Alawe’s chairmanship, as it would amount to a disregard for the tradition on earth and a sin against our forefathers,” they said.

They contended that lesser Obas can only be promoted traditionally, that is, through the Council of Obas, after thorough screening and strict consideration for the antecedents and rich historical and cultural backgrounds of that kingdom, as they did in the case of Olomuo, Attah, and Elemure.

“Before Kiriji war, all the pioneer 16 Obas had fledging and thriving kingdoms with Ijero, Ado, and Ikole leading, in terms of structures and political administration,” they said.

Reacting, the Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Oba Adebanjo, said it was a minor misunderstanding among the royal fathers. 

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“The 22 officially designated Pelupelu Obas in the state are in a peace talk to resolve the differences and there is no cause for alarm,” he said.

The Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy affairs, Professor Adio Afolayan, said government had no comments, as the matter is in court.

Last Thursday, Governor Fayemi, swore in the Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Oba Adebanji Alabi, as Chairman of Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers, despite pending litigation and controversy surrounding the appointment,

Oba Alabi’s appointment is being challenged by 16 Pelupelu Obas called Alademerindinlogun, who claimed that Fayemi contravened the Ekiti State Chieftaincy Law, which stipulated that the chairman can only be appointed among Alademerindinlogun/pelupelu Obas with his action.

They claimed in their deposition in a suit filed before Ekiti State High Court, that Alawe’s promotion to Pelupelu status was political, which could not grant him the power to become the traditional council’s chairman.

Unsurprisingly, the aggrieved Pelupelu monarchs boycotted the ceremony that was largely graced by First class Obas and other kings, under the aegis of Majority Obas of Ekiti State.

At the inauguration, held in Ado Ekiti, Fayemi said time had come for traditional rulers to bring their powers to bear on finding solutions to the high insecurity level across the nation.

Giving a hint on how the council would be run for the next two years, the Deputy Governor, Chief Bisi Egbeyemi, said 32 permanent members out of the 58 current members would be attending council meetings under the Alawe.

While charging the Obas on the need to maintain security and peaceful co-existence in their domains, Fayemi said their full cooperation with the government would help in curbing anti-social activities.

However, the Governor avoided issues surrounding the pending litigation in court, probably because such could be subjudice.

He said the council’s reconstitution became inevitable, owing to the fact that traditional rulers play pivotal roles in the stability of every community and the nation.

He said: “I want to charge you to cooperate with this government and be at the forefront of the fight against anti-social behaviours, because what we need to promote development is peace. I want you to be protectors of your people, as custodians of culture and tradition in your domains. Despite modernity, you remain the rallying point and you will ever remain relevant.”

Oba Alabi promised to be fair to all Obas, regardless of status. He urged his members to restrict themselves from giving advice to governors and not to criticise, since “we are not running a Labour Union.

“We can’t afford any form of antagonism and bickering, as we are not in competition with the Governor. We are advisory body in line with the Law that established this council. We assure Mr. Governor of our unalloyed loyalty to be able to move Ekiti forward.”


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