BY OLA AJAYI,
IBADAN – The royal rumble in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, which has been on for four months, is yet to abate as the city is now being ruled traditionally from two seats of power. Since Governor Abiola Ajimobi installed the new 21 kings on August 27, 2017, the residence of the Olubadan, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Saliu Adetunji, which is the palace of the Olubada, has ceased to be the meeting venue for the city’s traditional institution.
Adetunji’s former high chiefs, who have now been promoted to the status of full-fledged kings with beaded crowns, now meet at the ancient Mapo Hall as the official venue for the meeting of the Obas-in-Council. This is in line with the reviewed declaration.
Expectedly, the Olubadan and High Chief Rashidi Ladoja, who are not comfortable with the review of the 1959 Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration, have since stayed away from the new meeting venue. Though three meetings have been held by the new kings at Mapo, the third meeting, held two Wednesdays ago, would be the first official meeting of the council. And in the absence of the Olubadan at the meeting, his second in command, His Royal Majesty, Oba Lekan Balogun, Otun Olubadan, took charge.
A source told Sunday Vanguard that the Obas-in-Council is now settled for business as its meeting will now be held every two weeks and that in a situation when the Olubadan is not present, the Otun Olubadan will preside.
The source said the Secretary of the council has been replaced with a civil servant. Meanwhile, contrary to the impression that the kings are without kingdoms or domains, Sunday Vanguard gathered that they would be in charge of the 11 councils in Ibadan.
Olubadan in court
When the Olubadan found that his opposition to the chieftaincy review in the Oyo state capital had been ignored, he took the legal option. First on the list of defendants in the suit with number I/1077/2017 is Governor Ajimobi. Others include the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, and the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters. The case, according to one of the counsel to Olubadan, Mr. Abiodun Abdu-Raheem, was filed on September 18, 2017.
Also, eight of the 11 members of the Olubadan-in-Council are the fourth to the 11th defendants, while the 13 village heads, who were installed as coronet wearing kings, are the 12th to the 24th defendants.
Oba Adetunji wants the court to make four declarations and five orders. He wants the court to declare that for there to be an amendment to the 1959 Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration, the chieftaincy committee proposing such amendment must be composed of recognised chiefs by virtue of provision of Section 5 (2) of the Chiefs Law of Oyo State 2000.
The monarch also prays the court to declare that for there to be amendment to the declaration, there must be in existence a chieftaincy committee set up in accordance with the provision of the Chiefs Law of the state.
He is also challenging the governor that he lacks the power and authority to confer on anybody or person, including the fourth to the 24th defendants, the right to wear beaded-crown and coronet in violation of the Chiefs Law Cap 28 Laws of Oyo State 2000.
The Olubadan is seeking the court to declare that the elevation of the members of Olubadan-in-Council and the Baales to the rank or level of an Oba and their installation as kings entitled to wear beaded crowns and coronets by the governor without consultation with the Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs was done in error and, therefore, it is illegal, null and void under the Chiefs Law Cap 28 Laws of Oyo State.
The monarch also prays the court to set aside the Gazettes 14 and 15 at Volume 42 of 23rd and 24th August, 2017, respectively made by the governor, which confer on the 4th to 24th defendants the right to wear beaded crowns and coronets, same being in breach, violation and in conflict with the provisions of the Chiefs Law Cap 28 Law of Oyo State 2000.
Oba Adetunji also asks the court to set aside the installation of the new kings, an order of perpetual injunction restraining all the new kings from wearing beaded crowns or coronets and from parading themselves as beaded crown or coronet wearing Obas in Ibadanland.
Also among the prayers of the king is a prayer that the court should grant him an order of perpetual injunction that will restrain Ajimobi, by himself or by any of his officials, servants or agents acting pursuant to his instructions, from initiating any process or taking any step towards intimidating, harassing, threatening, suspending, removing, deposing or taking any action whatsoever detrimental to the Olubadan personally or to his office as the Olubadan of Ibadanland, more particularly with respect to the crisis caused by the purported amendment to the declaration as contained in the gazette.
In defence of Ajimobi, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state said it preferred the legal option taken by the monarch to seek redress instead of what it described as provocative and inciting comments emanating from the media team of the Olubadan.
The party exonerated the monarch from the statements, saying his gentle nature negated the statements by his Media Director, Mr. Adeola Oloko.
The Oyo APC, through its Director of Media, Research and Strategy, Dr AbdulAzeez Olatunde, noted that it was commendable that the royal father had finally remembered that justice could only come from the court of law and not through rude, insulting, provocative and inflammatory statements by media aides.
Monarch’s ‘multiple tax free payments’
Olatunde said that contrary to the insinuation from the palace that the Olubadan’s allowances had not been paid for six months, the party was alarmed to discover that his allowances and those of other members of the Local Government Traditional Council and the Oyo State Council of Traditional Rulers had been paid up to date by the 11 local governments in Ibadan on one hand and the state government on the other in line with the payment status of everyone on the payroll of both tiers of government.
The APC chief noted that Adetunji’s allowances were not treated in isolation but alongside those of other traditional rulers in Oyo as well as everyone on the payroll.
He stressed that when salaries were delayed, it was not only the Olubadan that was affected, decrying the “malicious attempt to portray the Oyo State Government as singling out the monarch for victimization”.
He said “Our father, the Olubadan, receives multiple tax free payments from all the eleven local governments in Ibadan land. For instance, he has collected up till August 2017 from Ibadan South East LG , Ido LG, Ibadan South West LG, Ibadan North L;G, Oluyole LG and Ibadan North East while Lagelu LG has paid up to July 2017. Egbeda and Ona Ara LGs have paid up to June 2017. Only Akinyele LG is behind in meeting its financial obligations and it is not peculiar to the Olubadan but to the generality of its payroll.
“Contrary to the six months outstanding being peddled, the state government has paid all the monarchs in the state up to June 2017 from the appropriated fund of the approved budget and that is the same month which workers in the state have been paid up to. Kabiyesi still collects his honorarium for any event he attends just like the recently held APC organised Public Sitting on True Federalism. These details were sourced from the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters through the Director in charge, Mr. Zaccheus Jaiyeola. We challenge Mr. Oloko (Adetunji’s spokesperson) to produce documentary evidence that the state governor has stopped the payment of the Olubadan’s allowances.
“We in the APC hold and respect our royal fathers in the state. We accord them their due respect and we will continue to support them. We however appeal to them to separate politics from communal development as well as chieftaincy matters”.
Will Ibadan traditional institution ever be one again?
Many residents of Ibadan, especially the indigenes, are of the belief that the bitterness the new dispensation has generated among the traditional rulers in the city will take time to be healed. If the court rules in favour of the Olubadan or the defendants, many people think the cord of oneness which had hitherto bound the traditional institution together will remain broken for several years to come.