Chuks Okocha, Alex Enumah in Abuja and Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
The Olubadan-in-Council, yesterday, said there was no controversy over the emergence of a new Olubadan of Ibadanland, declaring that tradition would be followed in the choice of the next king.
But an Ibadan-based lawyer and former Attorney-General of the state and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Michael Lana, had earlier advised Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde against approving the appointment of any of the current High Chiefs and Baales as the new Olubadan because there were unsettled legal matters relating to the stool.
Meanwhile, there were more eulogies to the departed monarch yesterday. Former President Goodluck Jonathan, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and former President of the Senate, Anyim Pius Anyim, commiserated with the people of Ibadan and the family of the 41st Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 93.
A statement released at the end of a two-hour closed-door meeting held at the residence of Otun Olubadan of Ibadanland, High Chief Lekan Balogun, said members of the council would meet and announce the next Olubadan in line with tradition after the mourning period for Oba Saliu Adetunji.
Curiously, the Osi Olubadan, High Chief Rasheed Ladoja, and two other members of the council were absent at the meeting.
The statement read, “Following the demise of the 41st Olubadan of Ibadanland, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso 1, on Sunday, members of the Olubadan-in-Council on Monday condoled with the Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Oluseyi Makinde, the people of Ibadan land and family members of the late monarch.
“Rising from a two-hour closed-door meeting held at the Alarere residence of Otun Olubadan and the would-be successor to the throne, Sen. Dr. Lekan Balogun, the Olubadan-in-Council described the deceased leader of the Council as an indefatigable ruler, whose reign would be difficult to forget.
“While praying for the repose of the soul of the departed king, the council urged the bereaved family of the deceased to remain joyous and happy for the legacies of good reign left behind by their patriarch.
“The council reiterated that the historical and traditional succession plan to the throne of Olubadan remains sacrosanct, the elevation conferred on all the members of the Olubadan-in-Council as Royal Majesties notwithstanding.
“Members of the council were elevated to the Royal Majesties status by the previous administration in the state led by the late Governor Abiola Ajimobi and it became contentious and litigatious.
“Olubadan-in-Council said the elevation granted the members, who also serve as kingmakers, had not in anyway altered the age-long and enviable traditional succession plan to the Olubadan throne in Ibadan land.
“There should be no controversy as to who becomes the next Olubadan amongst us as the previous elevation that made us Royal Majesties did not in anyway affect our respective offices in the Olubadan-in-Council and would not preclude any of us to mount the Olubadan throne whenever it is the person’s turn.
“We are the kingmakers and we will do the needful at the appropriate time. For now, we are still all in the mourning mood of our departed father and revered leader in the Council and we just want to assure the generality of our people both home and in the diaspora that there’s no cause for alarm.”
But Lana, in a letter to Makinde and which was copied to the Oyo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, claimed that approving the appointment of any of the High Chiefs and Baales would amount to an illegality, and would, therefore, be null and void.
In the letter dated January 3, Lana claimed that the Chieftaincy Declaration of 1957, which has not been set aside, forbade the elevation of an Oba to the position of Olubadan.
The seat of Olubadan became vacant on Saturday, January 1, 2022, following the death of His Royal Majesty, Oba llu Adetunji, Aje Ogunguniso 1, the Olubadan of Ibadanland.
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Lana, in his letter to the governor, advised that the governor should withhold his approval of any of the High Chiefs or Baales as Olubadan to avoid involvement in the desecration of Ibadan Customary Chieftaincy Law.
According to the lawyer, Makinde’s predecessor had violated the Chieftaincy Law, when he, “Without thinking the legal effects of his actions on the future of Ibadan traditional institution, conferred the title of Obaship on some High Chiefs and Baales and gave them the right to wear beaded Crowns and coronets, in 2017.”
He noted that the action of the former governor was challenged up to the Court of Appeal before the matter was resolved out of court.
Lana stated in the letter to Makinde, “Upon Your Excellency’s assumption of office, it was resolved that the matter be settled amicably and same was settled through the instrumentality of a Terms of Settlement, which became the judgement of the Court.
“The said Terms of Settlement recognised the Illegality of the said actions and, therefore, set aside the Gazettes by which the said Chiefs became Obas with a right to wear beaded Crowns and coronets.
“These High Chiefs and Baales were dissatisfied with this Consent Judgement and, therefore, instituted two separate suits to set aside the Consent Judgement while at the same time clinging to the title of Obas (which actually is in contempt of court).”
Lana further pointed out that in committing this alleged aberration, which changed the Ibadan Chieftaincy customary law, the Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration of 1957 was not amended and, therefore, remained extant.
He said, “Under that Declaration and all relevant laws, no Oba can ascend to the throne of Olubadan. In other words, as long as the High Chiefs still cling to the title of Oba, they cannot ascend to that throne and any installation of any of them during the pendency of that suit, is illegal, null and void.”
He said in the entire history of Ibadanland, appointment of the Olubadan had never been an issue; hence, the governor should not do anything to make it so.
According to Lana, “It is in line with this legal situation that I advise, most humbly, that you should withhold any approval of any High Chief to become the Olubadan so that you will not also join in the desecration of Ibadan Chieftaincy Customary law.
“There are only two ways to deal with this situation: one is for the High Chiefs to withdraw the aforementioned cases and the other is to wait for the court to pronounce on it before any step is taken to install an Olubadan. If the court holds that they have the right to be Obas and entitled to wear beaded crowns, then they are perpetually barred from becoming another Oba.
“Nowhere in the customary law of any Yoruba town is an Oba elevated to become another Oba. If, on the other hand, the court holds that the Terms of Settlement stands, and their obaship title is illegal, then they are free to be elevated to the post of Olubadan. The ball, your Excellency, is in their court.”
Nonetheless, Jonathan, while commiserating with the government and people of Oyo State, expressed sadness over the exit of the monarch, describing him as a renowned leader and king, who had the interest of his people at heart.
He said in a condolence message, “Olubadan was a compassionate and sagacious traditional ruler, who served as a worthy custodian of the custom and culture of his people.”
According to Jonathan, the late monarch will continue to “be remembered for the way he channelled his wisdom and energy towards the growth and development of Ibadanland, serving as a sage and moral compass in his domain.”
The former president noted that the late Olubadan would be missed, not only in Ibadanland, but across the country, because of his significant contributions to the growth of the society.
Sanwo-Olu, in his condolence message, said the late traditional ruler’s service to the people of Ibadanland, Oyo State, and Nigeria as a whole, would remain his enduring legacy.
Sanwo-Olu, in the message issued yesterday by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, described Oba Adetunji’s death as a great loss to the people of Ibadan and the traditional institution in Oyo State.
The governor urged the family, friends, and associates of the deceased as well as the entire people of Ibadan, whose interests the late monarch represented and worked tirelessly to protect during his lifetime, to work towards immortalising him.
Sanwo-Olu said in the message, “On behalf of the government and people of Lagos, I commiserate with my brother, the Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, and the people of the ancient city of Ibadan, the deceased family, friends and associates on the transition of the 41st Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, who joined his forebears yesterday (January 1).
“The death of Oba Adetunji is a great loss to the people of Ibadan and he will be greatly missed. He made lots of positive impact during his lifetime, contributing meaningfully to the growth and development of Ibadan, Oyo State, and Nigeria at large as a philanthropist, foremost music promoter, and, later, as a traditional ruler.
“Oba Adetunji, as a first class traditional ruler, left a lasting legacy that the people of Ibadanland will continue to cherish. I pray that Almighty God be pleased with the soul of the late monarch and grant the royal family and the people of Ibadan the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”
Anyim, on his part, said Oba Adetunji was a patriotic Nigerian, who was deeply committed to the peace, unity and development of the country.
Anyim worded his commiseration, thus, “I have received with sadness, news of the death of our highly respected traditional ruler, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Saliu Adetunji, the Olubadan of Ibadan. Let me convey to your Excellency, the family of His Royal Majesty, and the good people of Ibadan, my deepest condolences on this sad event.
“Late Oba Adetunji was a patriotic Nigerian, who was deeply committed to the peace, unity and development of our country. His nearly six years on the throne brought peace and great development to his kingdom and the entire Oyo State.
“His demise will be greatly felt, as Oyo State and the country at large would miss his invaluable advice and wise counsel as the nation searches for solutions to her many challenges. I pray that the Lord will comfort his family and grant his soul eternal rest in His bosom.”