Tension in Agbede as sons scramble over vacant throne
Oba Momoh Sani Momodu II was the Paramount Ruler of Agbede Community of Aviele Clan. He joined his ancestors in April 2018 after reigning for 59 years. Unfortunately, his demise has left his family in disarray, as the male siblings are currently embroiled in succession intrigues. Palace Watch investigations revealed that all is not well in what was supposed to be one united ruling house, where the eldest surviving son is expected to take over the throne. In this particular situation, however, the third surviving son desperately wants to outsmart his two elder brothers to occupy the throne, which has brought uneasiness in the town. Palace Watch made efforts to reach all the dramatis personae. Their submissions are as follows: Abdullateef Momodu is the youngest of the three sons the late Oba left behind. He called Palace Watch to announce that on May 13, 2018, the kingmakers in Agbede, who according to him, comprise the Chief Imam of Agbede and the seven village heads known as Dawudus, have met and pronounced him the Oba-elect, after extensive deliberation.
But have your elder brothers consented to this decision?
Whether they consented or not is immaterial at this point. The decision has been taken by the people to announce whom among my late father’s children should take over as the next Oba of Agbede. That decision is final. There is nothing they can do about it.
So, what happens to your father’s first son, Lawal Freedom Momodu, the person expected to ascend the throne?
Concerted efforts were made to reach him immediately, and 40 days after my father’s death, all we heard was that he indicated his disinterest in the throne. There might be many reasons for this. One, Lawal is married to a white woman and we are told again that he has now converted from Islam to Christianity. The Agbede community will never enthrone a Christian as their Oba.
What about Nurudeen, your twin brother who is older than you?
Nurudeen lost the throne on similar grounds. One, he is not too educated. Secondly, many years ago when my father was still alive, Nurudeen sent word that he wanted to marry a Yoruba lady. My father sent me to go and represent him at the occasion, which held in Osun State.
I was shocked and dumfounded, when I arrived venue of the marriage and discovered that the marriage was being conducted in a church. I asked him why? He told me, to my greatest surprise, that he had converted to Christianity, hence the decision to marry in a church. This I considered an abomination to the culture of Agbede people, who are predominantly Muslim. I quietly walked out of the church and went home to report the incident to my late father. Some members of our immediate family are very much aware of this occurrence.
Some years later, Nurudeen and his family relocated back to Agbede. This time, he pretended to be a practising Muslims. We all kept quiet, knowing full well he had not done what he was supposed to, if he was going to convert to Islam again.
What was he supposed to have done?
He was supposed to have formally notified the entire family, after committing what we regarded in our community as an abomination that he was again converting to Islam. At that point, all the necessary rites would have been performed for him in accordance with Islamic practice and a new name would be given to him. It is only after that that he would have again been regarded a practising Muslim.
But the law of succession in Agbede says: “The throne shall be inherited by the eldest surviving son.”
You are not correct in this case. The law you are referring to says: “The throne shall be inherited from father to son.” It did not say whether it is first, second or third son. All the sons of the late Oba are entitled to be king; it all depends on the person chosen by the kingmakers.
Would you say in all honesty that Agbede people want you as their Oba, considering some of the allegations they have leveled against you, which include heavy drinking and womanising, just to mention a few?
Yes, I drink, but not heavily as you claim. Some of the people making these allegations are known to have had carnal knowledge of their mothers and sisters. That I have never done. Secondly, up till now, some of them have no roof over their heads. I have struggled through personal efforts to build not only one house, but also houses. In that same Agbede, I run an efficient Guest House and do other businesses that are making profit. So, what are they talking about?
AFTER discussing with Abdullateef, Palace Watch put a call through to Nurudeen.
What is the position regarding who takes over the throne from your late father?
Well, as far as I know, this matter is kept in view until my elder brother, Lawal Freedom, who is a practising lawyer in the U.S. returns home. It is after his return that we will know whether or not he is interested in the throne.
But I just spoke with Lateef, and he said the kingmakers have just pronounced him the Oba-elect. Are you saying that was not correct?
If that was what Lateef told you, he was not correct. That is not the situation here. I live inside the Palace in Agbede. I have been here for many years before my father died.
But he said the kingmakers converged in that same palace on May 13, 2018 and pronounced him the Oba-elect…
That position is not correct. What happened on that particular day you are referring to is as follows: A day before that incident, somebody came to inform me that efforts were being made by some village heads to turban Lateef in the palace. I asked how could that happen, when all the necessary procedures have not been followed. And members of the royal family are not even aware of this arrangement you are talking about. I told the person that they would come and meet me in the palace.
Surprisingly, one of the village heads came to meet me and said they wanted to make use of the palace. After some argument, I decided to open the gate of the palace for them to come in, so as to see what they actually wanted to do. I, however, made sure I locked up the place that leads to the throne. So they were in one of the waiting rooms in the palace.
At that meeting, one of them told me that my late father told them that Lateef would inherit the throne after his demise. I asked the man to show me any document where my late father made such pronouncement. There and then, I warned him not to attempt to foster any crisis in the family, as my late father was known for documenting all he wanted done in writing. My late father was not an illiterate. That was how I drove them out of the palace. Lateef was present when this discussion took place.
I was surprised, when people came to tell me later that Lateef was jubilating all over the town that he had been made the Oba-elect of Agbede. I asked them to ignore him, since we are still awaiting the legitimate owner of the throne, my elder brother Lawal.
As we speak, Lawal has sent message through one of our younger brothers living with him in the U.S. who is already in Nigeria. His name is Isah. In the message, Lawal said he is making arrangements to return home. But as a practising attorney, he can’t just jump into the next available plane and return to Nigeria without putting his house in order. Otherwise, his clients would erroneously harbour the impression that he has eloped from the U.S. Hence; he has to make proper arrangement before leaving. This is the situation we are faced with.
Is it true you once converted from Islam to Christianity because of your Yoruba wife?
Please ignore Lateef’s antics. Yes, I am married to a Yoruba lady. My father was still alive, when we were about to marry. I brought her home to Agbede to introduce to my late father. My father was a very liberal person. He never objected to the marriage, so long the lady agreed to convert to Islam. And that was what happened. Ever since we got married, we have been happy as husband and wife, and we have beautiful children.
By the way, what has my wife got to do with the throne? My late father’s last wife was an Igbo woman. She took very good care of my father until he died. What my father did was to convert her to Islam.
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