The protracted royal rumble over Ibadan chieftaincy law review is in contention with few days to the termination of Abiola Ajimobi’s tenure as the governor of Oyo state. Agboola Bayo writes.
Ibadan royal rumble officially reached its climax recently when Governor Ajimobi, who is also an Ibadan indigene, elevated Ibadan high chiefs excluding the Osi Olubadan of Ibadan land, former governor of the state, High Chief Rashidi Ladoja. The situation has since being a recurring decimal to the point of reaching the appeal court.
However, there was a graveyard silence on the issue until on Monday, April 1 when the state government-elevated Ibadan Obas reopened another issue of accusing the Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Saliu Adetunji, of alleged illegal practice and lack of regard to the council.
The elevated Obas share their grievances
Speaking through the Otun Olubadan, Oba Lekan Balogun, after a meeting, the elevated Ibadan Obas described the actions of Oba Adetunji as uncalled for, saying caution should be exercised in order to avoid a crisis.
According to them, Oba Adetunji is destroying the system that brought him to the throne as a king. “We want to draw the attention of the people of Ibadan to some irregularities and illegalities embarked upon by the Olubadan. We are members of the Olubadan-in-Council but we are being side-lined by the Olubadan.
“Against tradition, Oba Saliu is running a one-man-show by disregarding the council. He appoints Mogajis and Baales without making any recourse to the council. Most of the things he does are illegal. For instance, the Olori is not a member of the Olubadan-in-Council but in his own case, the Olori unilaterally takes decisions on his behalf,” they said.
The elevated Obas added, “If Olubadan thinks we do not matter, we also can show that he doesn’t matter without us. He should not forget that when he was to be made the Olubadan, he rose through the council. We (the Olubadan-in-Council) made Olubadan out of him; he did not make us what we are but we made him the Olubadan,” they said.
“Kabiyesi, Oba Adetunji has turned the institution of Olubadan into personal affairs which can be run at his wife’s whims and caprices, but it amounts to illegality. Contrary to their belief at the Popoyemoja palace that Olubadan is an authority unto himself, we are telling the whole world that Olubadan only exists with his council. The danger of what they are doing in the palace has been manifesting in the ridiculous action of appointing two or more Mogajis from the same compound, honouring people with Mogaji title based on friendship as well as cash and carry award of Baales to undeserving people.”
The Ibadan Obas, therefore, vowed not to fold their arms and allow Oba Adetunji to continue to rubbish the institution that had endured more than a century. They said their silence over the various infractions of the Popoyemoja palace in the last two years was to avoid crisis in the state capital, saying, “We are by today’s resolution alerting Ibadan people both at home and in the Diaspora about excesses in the palace.”
Also speaking, two of the elevated Obas: Oba Abiodun Kola-Daisi and Oba Hamidu Ajibade stressed that there had been series of efforts by both individuals and organisations to ensure that peace reigns in the Olubadan-in-Council but said all such efforts had been scuttled by the wife of Kabiyesi (Olori Rasheedat) who insisted that her husband would not sit with his members of council.
On the newly installed Mogajis and Baales, the elevated Obas charged them not to see their appointment as legal because it ought to be backed by the council before being recognised.
Reacting to this claim, the Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Adetunji told the elevated crown-wearing obas by Gov Ajimobi to remove their crown before thinking of coming to his palace.
In a statement issued by his personal assistant/director of |Media and Public Affairs, Alhaji Adeola Oloko, he said that he has no objection to the return of the high chiefs to the palace once they remove what he called their illegal crowns.
“Rather than engage in blame game, the embattled high chiefs who are understandably afraid of what is likely to befall them after May 29 when power would have changed hands should have been bold enough to apologise to the entire people of Ibadan land in particular and the Yoruba people in general for undermining our custom and tradition.
“There is nowhere in Yoruba land where two kings sit inside a palace; it is always the king and his chiefs. Apart from violating our customs and tradition, there is no law that backs the wearing of illegal crowns in Ibadan land,” he said.
According to him, he had expected the chiefs to comply with the High Court judgment which declared the state government’s reform that produced the crowns as illegal, null, void and of no effect. Oba Adetunji, therefore, faulted the claim by the chiefs that their efforts to resolve the crisis have been frustrated saying, “What they do not tell the unwary public is that Olubadan should approve through the back door the crowns that the court has out rightly rejected.
“If the people of Ibadan want the crowns, he would have long ago approved it but all indications show that the overwhelming majority of Ibadan people do not approve it.”
Oba Adetunji stated categorically that contrary to allegation of the high chiefs, he had done no wrong nor acted illegally at any time there is no stay of execution and that despite efforts made to hinder the smooth running of the palace by the high chiefs and their promoter, they must begin to wonder why the palace had begun to grow from strength to strength. “The high chiefs exhibited little or no knowledge of our custom and tradition when they accused him of installing Mogajis and Baales without recourse to them.”
Oba Adetunji while affirming his stand said According to him, “Section 22 (2) of the Chiefs Law, Cap 28 Law of Oyo state (2000) makes the Olubadan the prescribed and consenting authority on all chieftaincy matters in Ibadan land. The Olubadan-in-Council is merely an advisory council without any power whatsoever.”
Not done with the stand of Oba Adetunji in his response, the elevated Obas fired back insisting that he cannot force them to drop their beaded crowns because there was nothing new in having more than one king in Ibadan. Responding through the Otun Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Lekan Balogun, they maintained that, “There’s nothing new in having more than a monarch in a town or city. Lagos today parades over 53 Obas, Ile-Ife in Osun state is no more a town with just Ooni of Ife as its monarch owing to a similar reform carried out by the state government just to mention a few of such places where similar reforms had taken place. Yet, in all of these places, the supremacy of the consenting authority is never eroded which is what we have kept on telling our referred baba.”
The elevated Obas added, “Unfortunately, his wife would not allow him to be himself which is why the issue has continued to linger.” The directive by Oba Adetunji that we should drop our crowns was nothing but hypocritical and an aspersion on the review of the law governing traditional institution in Oyo state.”
According to them, none of the issues raised in their allegations against the nefarious activities going on in Oba Adetunji’s palace, like non-screening of prospective Mogajis and Baales by the council before installation, the cash-and-carry manner by which people now get positions of Mogaji and Baale, leading to the appointment of more than one Mogaji from the same compound and relinquishing of the palace authority to ‘Olori’, the wife of the monarch, among others, has been answered.
“Events had overtaken the court judgment being referred to. Aside the fact that there’s an appeal pending on the same judgment, the issue of review of the traditional law in the state had since become a state-wide one, encompassing Ibadan and other cities and towns which till now have not been disputed.”
They emphasised that the same reform which conferred on them the new titles of royal majesties and Highnesses also elevated the Olubadan to His imperial majesty from royal majesty which the Olubadan proudly adorned. “So, what makes our own wrong and his own right? That the reform carried out by Governor Abiola Ajimobi led administration on the Ibadan chieftaincy laws review was in the best interest of the state in general and Ibadan in particular which was why, despite their initial opposition to it had to embrace it when it became glaring that the reform was not of any benefit to the governor as a person.
“Unfortunately, the Olubadan himself was at the very meeting with them and the governor where the issue was thrashed out and they all agreed that the reform should be carried out. But, the first class monarch capitulated on getting back to his palace when his wives castigated him, wondering how on earth there would be other ‘Oloris’ alongside them at the same time.”As Makinde takes over
With the situation on ground regarding the chieftaincy crisis, all eyes are on what would become of the review particularly on the government elevated Ibadan Obas as another Ibadan indigene, Engr Seyi Makinde, is to take the mantle of office as the executive governor come May 29, considering the fact that it was the state government that filed the appeal against state High court judgment that declared that the Ibadan chieftaincy laws review as well as the elevation of the Ibadan Obas was null and void.