Things Fall Apart Between Olubadan And His Chiefs
The accusations and counter accusations by Olubadan-in-Council and His Imperial Majesty, Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso 1, call for the intervention of prominent indigenes of the ancient city to avoid further denigrating the once respected process of ascending the revered throne. RAJI ADEBAYO writes.
The age-long peace being experienced in the process of ascending the Olubadan of Ibadan throne was enmeshed in crisis during the tenure of immediate-past governor of the state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, when the former governor promoted and installed some High Chiefs and Bales into crown wearing kings.
Since 2017, the process that was once tagged the most democratically and peaceful in the whole of Africa started experiencing hiccups, and pitched the Olubadan, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso 1, against his high chiefs.
The process of becoming the Olubadan gives opportunity to every compound in Ibadan. Every compound has the right to nominate a consensus worthy son to be installed as the Mogaji.
The Mogaji then starts to climb the ascension tree by getting promotion from one chieftaincy position to another. This puts Jagun on the ladder to the Olubadan from two lines, the Otun Olubadan and Balogun Olubadan.
The death of the occupant of any of the two positions, which are next to Olubadan, determines the promotion on either of the lines.
From Jagun, candidates climb 22 steps in Otun line, while from Balogun, the candidates climb 23 steps, before ascending the Olubadan throne. By this, there is no controversy in ascending the throne, and no rancour between Olubadan and High Chiefs that form the Olubadan-in-Council.
Ascension is rotated between the two lines, when an Olubadan joins his ancestors, the topmost High Chief from either the two lines, the Otun or Balogun, will ascend the throne. It is rotational. Thus, there is no controversy about who emerges the Olubadan.
Immediate-past Olubadan, Oba Odulana Odugade, was from Otun line, while the incumbent is from Balogun line.
Problem started in 2017 when Ajimobi set up a committee to review the processes and protocols in ascending the Olubadan throne with the inauguration of a judicial commission of enquiry on the matter.
The seven-man commission on review of 1957 declaration of the Olubadan of Ibadan, headed by Hon. Justice Akintunde Boade, was to examine the existing requirements cum qualifications, selection process from Otun and Balogun lines, and consider the possibilities of having more beaded crown Obas in Ibadanland.
According to Ajimobi, “The review of the existing declaration of the Olubadan of Ibadanland was long overdue and would ensure that the Olubadan chieftaincy was up to speed in the comity of traditional rulers in Yorubaland.”
Ajimobi then said: “The current arrangement whereby the Olubadan emerged after climbing 22 or 23 steps, consistently led to the emergence of an Oba who was too old to cope with the rigours of the stool.”
Former governor Rashidi Ladoja, the Osi Olubadan and Senator Lekan Balogun, Otun Olubadan, went to court to challenge Ajimobi, and government’s involvement in Olubadan traditional system.
But, before the case was mentioned in court, Otun Olubadan, a beneficiary to the outcome of the judicial commission of enquiry, backed out, leaving only Ladoja, Osi Olubadan, in the legal tussle.
The commission of enquiry recommended that all the High Chiefs should be promoted to Coronet wearing Kings as well as promoting some Baales to kingship position.
While Ladoja rejected the promotion and retained his High Chief position, all other High Chiefs, including Lekan Balogun, accepted the promotion, and were all installed as Coronet wearing Kings by Ajimobi.
But, in 2018, Osi Olubadan, Ladoja, won a landmark judgment, which quashed all the processes that led to the coronation of some High Chiefs and some Baales.
Dissatisfied with the lower court ruling, Ajimobi went to appeal, which was pending as at May 29, 2019, when he left office.
His successor, Seyi Makinde, set the ball rolling for an amicable resolution of the dispute which had pitched all the 21 ‘kings’ against the Olubadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji since 2017.
The government approached the Court of Appeal with terms of settlement and the latter on August 23, 2019, referred parties in the controversial coronation of the kings to the lower court.
The State High Court 2 in suit no. M / 317 / 2017, between Ladoja as claimant and governor of the state with Hon. Justice Akintunde Boade for himself and on behalf of all members of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry on Olubadan Chieftaincy as defendants, put a seal on the terms of reference brought before it.
In granting the terms of settlement jointly filed by the state government and the claimant who doubles as the Osi Olubadan of Ibadanland, High Chief Rashidi Ladoja, Justice A. Aderemi said since the parties had met and agreed, he was left with no option than to set aside the gazette.
The judgment read by Justice Aderemi reads: “That all the gazettes affecting the chieftaincy laws of Ibadan land particularly Gazette Nos . 14 Vol.42 of 23rd August 2017; 15 Vol. 42 of 24 August 2017 and 3 Vol. 43 of 29th March 2018 and the subsequent elevation of High Chiefs and Baales in Ibadanland as Obas during the pendency of this suit be and are hereby set aside.
“That the right to wear beaded crowns and coronets granted by the state government during the pendency of the suit are hereby revoked.”
Instead of the controversy to be put to rest, another dimension was introduced to the tussle where the High Chiefs started accusing Olubadan of many sins, but the height of it was the allegation that he was selling chieftaincy titles and promotions at the cost of N30 million.
In a four-page letter, a copy of which was made available to journalists in Ibadan, the chiefs accused the Olubadan of monetising traditional titles.
They alleged that people now pay Olubadan as much as N30 million to be installed as a traditional chiefs.
The statement reads: “Ever before the immediate past administration in the state initiated the review of the Ibadan Traditional Chieftaincy Declaration in 2017, two main issues had drawn a wedge between the palace and the members of the Olubadan-in-Council.
“The issues were the relegation of the members of the Olubadan-in-Council to mere onlookers and bystanders at the Olubadan-in-Council meetings where the Oloris and some members of your Imperial Majesty’s family were the decision-makers.
“We are not aware of any of the Olubadans in the history of Ibadanland whose wives and family members were made members of Olubadan-in-Council. Our attempt to check this anomaly, through protest, was rebuffed and our personalities verbally attacked and recriminated by the Oloris in the presence of your Imperial Majesty without a word of caution.
“The other issue which drew our ire and which was a reflection of the denial of our patriotic contributions at the Olubadan-in-Council meetings was the commercialisation of Ibadan traditional titles the moment Your Imperial Majesty ascended the throne of Olubadan, which was a sharp departure from what we all agreed to and practiced during the reign of your predecessor.
“It sounds odd, unthinkable and unimaginable that people now pay as much as N30 million to be installed as a traditional chief in Ibadanland. This is against one’s antecedents and family contributions to the development of Ibadanland, which are the traditional yardsticks to measure qualification for installation.
“The implication of this ‘cash and carry’ approach is the installation of some people with a questionable moral background at the expense of decent and genuine people with a proven track record and whose genuine and verifiable source of income could not meet the demand of the palace.”
In a swift reaction, Oba Saliu Adetunji, through his Personal Assistant/Media and Publicity Director, Mr. Adeola Oloko, accused his High Chiefs of resorting to the use of unsubstantiated allegations fit only for pepper soup joints and beer parlours to deliberately assassinate his character and denigrate the institution he represents. The first class monarch cautioned the public to beware of what they read and listen to, as fake news like hard drugs pollute the human system.
Apparently referring to the letter “Re: Grievances; our response” of February 14, 2020 single-handedly signed by Otun Olubadan, High Chief Lekan Balogun, which was obtained from the public domain, the first class monarch vowed to clear his name of the damaging claim that he sold a traditional chieftaincy title for as high as N30 million.
The first class monarch stated that the embattled high chief should have substantiated his claim by mentioning the name of the chief or chiefs who paid the sum.
“He should have disclosed where and when the money was paid. Was the money paid in cash, cheque or through transfer? Was it paid in local or foreign currency? What kind of traditional chieftaincy title was the so-called person asking from Olubadan, as alleged by High Chief Lekan Balogun? How much gain would the person possibly make from the alleged N30 million investment on the chieftaincy title, which he could have possibly invested on more profitable venture? Oloko regretted that despite Chief Balogun’s claim to sophisticated education and age, he could not differentiate between free comment and libel.
According to Olubadan, “what the high chiefs did not tell the public was that in September, 2019, when the high chiefs came to plead with Olubadan that the vacant positions from Otun Balogun down to Jagun on both side be filled, what His Majesty requested from them was the usual N100, 000 per step. Thinking that His Majesty would ask for more but he asked for less, the high chiefs prostrated for Kabiesi in appreciation. The implication of this is that if you have two steps to climb, you are liable to pay only N200, 000.
“If you have three steps, you pay N300,000.00. Even when some of the high chiefs could not afford to pay, it was Chief Yemi Soladoye-led Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII) that bailed them out. So, how can the respected monarch ask for N30 or any million naira from someone who cannot afford N100, 000 only?
“The money in question, when collected, is always paid into the coffers of the Olubadan-in-Council. It is then disbursed at the end of every successful chieftaincy exercise and divided into three equal parts. While one part usually goes to Olubadan, the two other parts are always shared between Otun Olubadan and Balogun lines.
“When on 15th December, 2016 the former governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi was honoured along with his wife, Florence, with the honorary chieftaincy titles of Aare and Yeye Aare of Ibadanland, that was how some of our high chiefs falsely accused Olubadan of having collected a sum of N50 million.
“They bluntly refused to be consoled until Ajimobi told them point blank that Kabiyesi did not charge anything, so he won’t give a dime to any chief. Former Governor Ajimobi is alive to confirm the story. We challenge High Chief Balogun to produce demonstrable evidence of his claim.
“If you are Olubadan of Ibadanland at 91, like Oba Saliu Adetunji, what materialistic ambition could anyone be possibly pursuing with the enormous goodwill attached to the exalted throne? Suffering from what psychologists call projection, High Chief Lekan Balogun is a hawk who always labours under false pretence that all other creatures feed on chicks. We challenge Dr. Lekan Balogun to explain to the public who collected a sum of N6.5 million from Dr. Sunday Oladiti (now late) sometime in 2017 under the false pretence that he would help him secure promotion to Jagun from Oba Saliu Adetunji.
“When the man died without realizing his ambition, did High Chief Balogun refund his money to his family as his wife and children have come to the palace to seek Kabiesi’s intervention on the matter. We were reliably informed that the last minute withdrawal of High Chief Lekan Balogun from the suit he jointly instituted with Osi Olubadan, High Chief Rasidi Ladoja against Oyo State Government in 2017 was not unconnected with financial assistance offered to him by the former governor. If in doubt, check the EFCC zonal office in Ibadan and possibly the State Police Headquarters, Eleyele for clarification.
“Another case is the case of Baale Alape in Ibadan North West Local Government Traditional Council where the high chief was fingered in the illegal installation of the Baale without the approval of Olubadan, who is the prescribed and consenting authority on all chieftaincy matters in Ibadanland. Only last December he came to the palace along with some high chiefs, notably High Chiefs Eddy Oyewole and Amidu Ajibade to prostrate and asked Kabiesi for forgiveness.
“If anyone is looking for a General to lead a battle, don’t go for the likes of High Chief Lekan Balogun. He is a General without troops. Imagine one single person signing on behalf of 6 other high chiefs. High Chief Lekan Balogun also claimed in the letter that Kabiesi installed some people with questionable moral background. Would it not be better for him to mention them so that they could be investigated and possibly be removed? Otherwise, this is a case of pot calling the kettle black.
“The high chief who prefers to call himself an Oba stated in his letter that any promotion granted the Mogajis before Ikolaba title remains a nullity the moment such is done under the seal of kabiesi as His Imperial Majesty. Firstly, High Chief Lekan Balogun is better advised to go and read the official programme of the Oyo State Government when Kabiyesi Olubadan was installed on Friday March 4, 2016.
“What he would find on the programme is the seal of His Imperial Majesty. Incidentally, High Chief Lekan Balogun was a member of the Coronation Committee. So, that was a clear fifteen months interval before the controversial review of the Olubadan Chieftaincy declaration by the last administration.
“So, is High Chief Lekan Balogun saying that the Oyo State Government made a mistake then. Secondly, what law, what gazette or chieftaincy review conferred Imperial Majesty status on other Obas of equal status with Olubadan who are using it? We challenge the high chiefs to please produce it.
“The high chief was reported elsewhere of threatening that as kingmakers who enthroned Olubadan, they reserve the right to remove him. The high chief is better reminded that this empty threat is not new and sustainable, as he has said it in 2018 and denied it later. For the benefit of the public, there is no law that empowers any high chief or group of high chiefs to remove Olubadan. On the contrary, it is Olubadan who can suspend or peg any erring chief for act of contumely,” Olubadan said.
– Daily Independent