The Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers at the weekend, warned the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III to stop his alleged meddling in the affairs of the state’s traditional institution and restrict himself to the issues of traditional institutions in Oyo State.
In a letter dated March 14, 2020 and addressed to Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, the Chairman of the council and Alawe of Ilawe-Ekiti, Oba Adebanji Alabi, called on Makinde to stop Oba Adeyemi from his undue intereference in the internal affairs of Ekiti Obas.
Recall that Oba Adeyemi had in a three-page letter dated March 12, 2020, written to Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, warned the governor against treating the traditional institution in Yorubaland with levity.
The letter by Oba Adeyemi is the aftermath of a query issued by Fayemi to 11 prominent monarchs in the state over alleged insubordination.
Oba Adeyemi said he wrote on behalf of other prominent traditional rulers in Yorubaland, including the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona; and the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo.
Alaafin stated that unlike what obtains in some tribes, where there was nothing attached to their traditional institutions, the Yoruba traditional institution was ancestral and spiritual.
Fayemi had issued a query individually to the affected traditional rulers by the Bureau on Chieftaincy Affairs and gave the monarchs 72 hours within which to reply.
The query, which was entitled, “Re: Absence from State Functions and Council of Traditional Rulers’ Monthly Meetings,” was signed by A.O. Adeoye on behalf of the Permanent Secretary of the bureau.
The governor and some aggrieved prominent monarchs had been at loggerheads since July 31, 2019 over the appointment of Alawe of Ilawe-Ekiti, Oba Alabi, as the new chairman of Ekiti Council of traditional rulers.
In a writ of summons file before Ekiti High Court, the 17 aggrieved obas asked the court to reverse Fayemi’s action on the premise that Alawe was not recognised by statute to chair the council.
They argued that they had the exclusive rights to head the council, among the 22 members, in line with the extant tradition and the State Chieftaincy Laws, threatening that they won’t attend the inauguration of Alawe as Council Chairman and any meeting of the council where he presides.
However, five out of the 17 aggrieved prominent monarchs; Onisan of Isan Ekiti, Oba Gabriel Adejuwon; Attah of Ayede-Ekiti, Oba Abdulmumin Orisagbemi; Onitaji of Itaji-Ekiti, Oba Idowu Babalola; Owa of Oke-Imesi, Oba Gbadebo Adedeji and Arinjale of Ise-Ekiti, Oba Ajayi Adetunji had back-pedalled and have been attending the council meeting presided over by Oba Alabi.
But, the other 11 aggrieved Obas were adamant and had been shunning the council meeting and government function since August 2019 owing to the impression that Alawe was politically promoted to that rank and that he was not qualified to occupy the exalted seat.
The governor, in his query, said the traditional rulers deliberate actions and inactions without any justification flagrantly negated the administration of chieftaincy institution in the state.
However, Alaafin urged Fayemi to avoid any attempt of importing any subculture of traditional degradation into Yorubaland, adding any actions that could cause civil unrest at the expense of the peace and well-being of the citizens he swore to protect should be jettisoned.
But Oba Alabi said the conduct of Alaafin with respect to the affairs of Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers was unbecoming and “absolutely unwarranted.” The Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti said he has no business dabbling into the matter of chieftaincy administration in Ekiti State which is pending before the Court.
He said the letter from Alaafin was unwarranted, misguided and lacking in merit, as far as the Ekiti Chieftaincy matters was concerned, adding “it was written without adequate information and knowledge of the chieftaincy matters in Ekiti.”
The letter read in part: “The Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers takes strong exception to the whole content of Alaafin’s letter, which is absolutely unwarranted as Alaafin cannot superintend over the monarch in Ekiti State.
“Ekiti State was never and can never be part of Oyo Empire. It is on this note that Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers is respectfully requesting Your Excellency (Makinde) to stop the Alaafin from his meddlesomeness in the internal affairs of Ekiti State.
“The letter of Oba Adeyemi contained a lot of misrepresentation of facts and inaccurate accounts of events between the State Government and the Traditional Institution in Ekiti State which CANNOT be in consultation with, and concurrence of the highly revered and venerable Traditional Rulers mentioned in the letter but who did not sign same.
“It is a matter of fact and law that Grading, Classification and Composition of Council of Obas in Ekiti State and perhaps anywhere in Nigeria is governed by Law through Government Gazettes even from the Colonial era. From his letter, Alaafin is unable to define what qualifies an Oba to be a PeluPelu Oba. He is not aware of the fact that among the first group of Obas that formed the Association in 1900 were Deji of Akure (Ondo State) and Owalobo of Obo Ayegunle (Kwara State) who have since left the Association. He is also not aware of the fact that some Obas joined the Group in 1909 – Atta Ayede, 1929 (Elemure), 1947 (Alawe, Arajaka, Olujido Ido Ile and Olosi) (Minutes of the Pelupelu meetings for those periods are available) In 1971 Olomuo was admitted to the Pelupelu status by the then Governor of Western State, the Late Gen Adeyinka Adebayo.
“It should be noted that, seventeen (17) Obas are presently laying claim to PeluPelu Obaship in Ekiti State. And by Government Gazette of October 2018, Government recognized twenty two (22) Obas as PeluPelu in Ekiti and no one raised an eyebrow when Governor Ayo Fayose added the 22nd member, the Oluyin of Iyin – Ekiti in August, 2018. What is therefore sacrosanct about the number of pelupelu Obas which Alaafin put at sixteen.
“We, therefore, say with all sense of authority and responsibility that Alaafin goofed to say that from time immemorial, Obaship Leadership had been within the sixteen (16) Obas who he could neither name nor mention. He only pretends not to know that the number of Pelupelu Obas has never be static.
“Unfortunately and appallingly, Alaafin stated that his source of information was by “Hearsay” Yet he refused to verify his erroneous fact before falsely accusing Governor Fayemi of neglect. He refused to say those he considers as subordinate Obas. Subordinate to who”? Oba Alabi queried.
He added: “Alaafin is no doubt an Oba who enjoys stirring controversies and crisis where there are none. He is without doubt a meddlesome interloper who is bent on exporting the crisis he engineered in old Oyo State during which the Traditional Council was unable to hold a single meeting as a result of leadership tussle between him and the OONI of Ife until OSUN was carved out of old Oyo State.
“Moreover, the little disagreement amongst Ekiti Obas has not affected the functionality of our Traditional Council. We hold our meetings statutorily unlike the Traditional Council under Alaafin that has long been grounded. How does he give what he does not have?
“Ekiti Monarchs are not Alaafin’s AJELES, hence, his current voyage into an internal affairs of Ekiti Obas is highly unwarranted. Alaafin has no moral right nor justification to interfere in the matter of Traditional Rulers administration in Ekiti State.
“We say with all sense of authority and responsibility that Alaafin’s letter is borne out of ignorance. Let him remove the log in his eyes before seeking to remove the speck from others.
“We, therefore advised our Governor Dr Kayode Fayemi not to dignify Alaafin’s letter with any response because it is clearly ill-motivated and in bad faith.”