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Ipetumodu: Obaship tussle tears community apart

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There is serious contention over the stool of Ipetumodu in Osun State. Some allege that the Obaship of the ancient town is up for grabs by the highest bidder. PalaceWatch presents all sides of the matter. First to speak is Prince Biodun Oloyede, a contestant.­­­

What exactly is the matter with the Obaship contest in Ipetumodu?
Well, the struggle to produce a successor to the throne of Ipetumodu began sometime in February this year, after the demise of the immediate past Oba, His Royal Highness James Adedokun Adego, (Akunradoye II) of Ipetumodu in November 2017. So, the process of finding a suitable person that will succeed the late Oba started. But surprisingly, the person who is the head of the four Afobaje (kingmakers), Chief Sunday Adedeji, had a certain candidate in mind he wanted enthroned as the next Oba of Ipetumodu. He did everything to favour this particular candidate, whose name is Gbenga Joseph Oloyede.

But you are also from the Oloyede family…
Yes, I am also Oloyede. We are from the same stock, though not directly from the same family. We are both princes and are from the Aribile Ruling House. We are both entitled to the throne. Here in Ipetumodu, we have two ruling houses: Aribile and Fagbemokun Ruling Houses. The Obaship rotates between the two ruling houses. The immediate past Oba was from the Fagbemokun Ruling House. Now, it is the turn of Aribile to ascend the throne.

Presently, under Aribile Ruling House, we have five ruling compounds: The Arowosuntoye Compound, where I come from, the Kiaje Compound, Elewa Compound, Latimogun Compound and Ajiga Compound. Gbenga Joseph Oloyede is from Latimogun Compound. The five houses have candidates for the throne.

Since all the compounds presented candidates, how did they come about the selection?
It was the considered opinion of the four other candidates that Chief Adedeji rigged the selection in favour of his preferred candidate, who comes from the same compound with him (the Latimogun Compound.)

Immediately after the so-called selection or nomination, the other four compounds held a meeting and rejected the candidate’s selection. This was the situation until one of us went to court.

We went to see the Ooni on the issue. And after series of meetings, the following resolutions were reached at Ooni’s palace: All the princes should allow the kingmakers to do their duty and that the kingmakers should discharge their duties with the fear of God; that their work should not be based on monetary consideration. At this point, the Ooni advised that we consult the Ifa Oracle, as to who should be the king. It was also decided that all cases in court should be withdrawn. We were expected to do all this within a period of seven working days, so that whosoever comes up will be acceptable to all the houses.

We have tried to comply with the Ooni’s advice, but because of some other things, such as consulting the Ifa oracle, it is somehow cumbersome. The seven days have long elapsed.

On September 14, 2018, the ruling houses met. Before then, we had selected two individuals from each compound. These 10 persons will not only consult Ifa Oracle, but were also mandated to consult pastors and Imams.

But what is the business of Pastors and Imams in a traditional matter?
We all agreed that since the coming Oba will oversee affairs of all manner of persons in his domain, it was proper we consulted very widely. The meeting on September 14 was to review all these.

The problem we have with Gbenga Joseph Oloyede, the selected candidate, is that he is not well known in Ipetumodu. He has been living in Canada for several years now. He only recently came to Nigeria basically because of this Obaship issue, and has since returned to Canada.

Next, Palace Watch got in touch with Prince J.A.T Ayoola, the man who went to court.

On what grounds did you take the matter to court? Why are you not complying with Ooni’s directive?
Well, the immediate past Oba joined his ancestors about 11 months ago. In Ipetumodu, there are two ruling houses, which take turn to ascend the throne. The late Oba was from Fagbemokun
Ruling House, so, it is now the turn of Aribile’s, the ruling house others and I come from.

Presently, there is a subsisting declaration, which was made in 1958. After the passage of the immediate past Oba, Osun State Government sent the declaration to our own ruling house, as a kind of guide and said, “It should be used to select whosoever will emerge as an Oba from Aribile Ruling House.”

The declaration in question contained three conditions, which say: “Any candidate that must emerge as Oba must be from Aribile House. Secondly, the candidate must be from the mainstream of the ruling house. Thirdly, such a person must be son of a previous holder of the title.”

You will see from the declaration that it graduated and narrowed down the conditions little by little. One, it addresses all members of the ruling house, both males and females. Two, it goes on to say such a person must be from the mainline of the ruling house, and three, such a person must be a son of a previous holder of such a title.

My late brother ascended the throne in 1983 and died in 1986. But before he died, someone here in Ipetumodu challenged the clause C of that declaration, which mentions sons of previous holders of such a title.

We went to the Appeal Court after my brother’s death and won the case. Fortunately, the immediate past Oba of Ipetumodu, who took over from my late brother did not change this declaration.

Surprisingly, when the kingmakers wanted to select another Oba, they deliberately refused to put into consideration these three vital points. Instead, they went for the man with lots of money. He just got them to his side and they picked him. It was at this point I told myself this will not stand.

Somehow, I knew they were going to pick him, but the day I actually heard that the kingmakers had picked him, I went to court straight and the court gave preservative order that the status quo should remain.

Since I instituted the action, the kingmakers have been coming to my house to beg me, saying they made a mistake. But I have refused all their entreaties and insisted that the right thing be done. They then dragged me before the Ooni of Ife.

Surprisingly, the Ooni almost succumbed to their antics, but I told the Ooni not to get messed up with what the kingmakers are doing, which is wrong. The kingmakers knew that the Ooni’s consent is vital for their appointment to stand, and that was why they were pushing for it at all cost.

Incidentally, the Ooni’s father and myself were classmates and we still remain friends till today. So, I also spoke to his father about it. If you must know, I was the Registrar of Ibadan Polytechnic, when the Ooni graduated from the school.

At 77, I can’t afford to be seen to be frivolous. I retired from public service 18 years ago. This is where we are now. Even the head of the kingmakers, who is a lawyer, has been coming to beg me to reconsider my position, but I told them no.

Palace Watch also contacted Prince Mathayasia Oyetade, who is the head of Aribile Ruling House. He, however, said he would not comment on the matter because it is still subjudice.

Palace Watch then contacted the Head of the kingmakers, Chief Afolabi Sunday Adedeji.

Could you kindly tell us how the kingmakers in Ipetumodu came about the selection of Gbenga Joseph Oloyede as the Oba-elect?
There is nothing special about the selection. We selected the person we felt is right and proper to occupy the throne of Ipetumodu. Some people have gone to court to say that the selected person was not good enough. They also faulted our selection process.

Were the kingmakers not aware of the issues raised by the complainants?
What is the matter with the man’s parentage? All that talk is rubbish.

Did they also let tell that some of them have gone to court to challenge what we did?
Yes. They said they went to court because the kingmakers refused to abide by the conditions stipulated in the declaration leading to the selection of an Oba for Ipetumodu…

What else do you expect them to say?
They alleged, among other things, that money played a major role in the selection. How true is this allegation?

Did they say they gave me or any other kingmaker money, or saw any of the contestants giving any of us money?
That is why I am asking this question. You either agree or disagree.

I did not collect money from anybody and none of the kingmakers, as far as I know, collected money. These are the type of allegations they are expected to make. They are simply disgruntled. They are not satisfied with the choice we made. We have done our job as kingmakers. We did what we felt is right and proper. It will be wrong to now say this is what will happen or will not happen, since they have gone to court.

Until the matter is disposed, there is nothing anybody can do now. Let us just wait for what the court verdict will be. The court is for justice. Anyhow, as at now, the case is subjudice. So, let us wait for the outcome of the case, before I can make further comments on this matter.


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