By Fisayo Akinduro
The traditional institution in Yoruba land is one of the most respected and revered institutions in the society, serving as the custodian of culture and values.
In years past, kings were seen as pillars of a sacred institution, saddled with the responsibility of ensuring peace and maintaining order in their domain. The king’s name and presence always command respect and dignity.
Over the years, some kings have literally derailed from the essence of their emergence as kings, and the sacredness of Obaship inherited from their predecessors is being thrown into the mud.
Recently, some kings in Yoruba land have one way or the other found themselves in a crisis which has either ridiculed the sacredness of their stool or made their subjects hurl abusive words at them.
It will be recalled that a Deji of Akure, Oba Oluwadare Adepoju Adesina, Osupa 111 was in 2010 removed from office due to his despicable action of engaging in a public brawl with his wife.
The then state government invoked Sections 17(1) and (2) of the Ondo State Chiefs Law 1984, as amended, to dethrone Adesina.
The government described the action of the dethroned monarch as dishonourable, condemnable and disgraceful for bringing the institution of obaship and the stool of Deji to disrepute and public odium.
The actions of the dethroned king raised comments from Yorubas and the entire country on why a king should demonstrate such a demeaning act, most especially in public glare.
During the colonial era, the Ijebu king, Awujale Fidipote, who in a bid to pre-empt deposition (and death), fled his capital and went on self-exile to Epe in 1883. He eventually died at Epe, Lagos State in 1885, with some of his supporters suspecting regicide masterminded by the regency council.
Also, the late Olowo of Owo, Oba Olateru Olagbegi 11 was ousted out of office in 1966 during a military coup.
It was gathered that the coup created an avenue for some citizens of Owo to unleash violence and revolt against Olagbegi. He was banished from power in 1966 by the military administrator of the Western Region and re-instated 25 years later.
Also in 2019, the traditional ruler of Ilara Mokin in the Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo State, Oba Aderemi Adefehinti was chased out of the palace by some youths in the community for allegedly not participating in the traditional new yam festival.
Last week, the Oluwo of Iwo in Osun State, Oba Adewale Adekanbi beat up a fellow king at the office of the Assistant Inspector-General of Police zone XI during a peace meeting over land issues in the community.
According to eyewitnesses, Oluwo descended on Agbowu of Ogbaagbaa, Oba Dhikrulahi Akinropo, an action which landed the monarch in the hospital.
It was reliably gathered that the monarchs were summoned to the AIG’s office to foster peaceful relations between the monarchs on the lingering issue of illegal sale of lands in their domain.
The Obas and some aggrieved members from the three local governments in Iwo region on Monday stormed the Governor’s office to demand the suspension of Oluwo from office.
The 15 monarchs in a communique issued on Sunday petitioned the state government, the police, the state House of Assembly and the DSS on Oluwo’s action which has subjected the royal stool in avoidable ridicule.
The protesters, in their numbers, expressed displeasure about the actions of the monarch and urged the state government to do the needful, as well as check his excesses.
Reacting to the incident, Oluwo asked his critics to leave him to God and stop judging him on social media. The Oluwo said Nigerians outside Iwoland are ignorant of the true situation of things and the hardship some monarchs in their domains are inflicting on their subjects.
“For those who care to know the background to the Agbowu’s arrogant attitude at the AIG zone 11 peace meeting, I have decided to break my silence. What played out at the peace meeting was a gang-up to twist my hands backwards and prevent me from defending these poor people they have continued to oppress with impunity.”
“It was a case of the oppressor fighting back against the defender of the oppressed, their victims. In the course of the meeting, the Agbowu tried to play out their orchestrated plan when he tried to poke his walking stick in my eyes and I quickly responded to prevent him from achieving their plan, to turn me to a blind king.”
He said many of these monarchs are lording themselves over their subjects, taking their family lands and selling their inheritance with impunity.
According to him, they have gone as far as arresting and imprisoning anyone in these families, who tried to obstruct them from selling their heritage.
The Osun state government on its part described the actions between the two monarchs as unfortunate.
The government said it is aware that the State Traditional Council is looking into the matter, noting that traditional rulers ought to protect and preserve the sacredness of traditional institutions.
“We believe in the dignity of traditional stools and sacredness of royalty. We will continue to preach peace among all our citizens and harmonious relationship among our traditional rulers.”
“Government is aware that the State Council of Traditional Rulers has stepped into the matter and we are confident that the council will take appropriate steps to preserve peaceful coexistence among the Obas in the state. We do not want any crisis in any part of the State,” the government added.
Reacting to the issue on Tuesday on TVC, Alake of Egbaland, Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo III said Obas should be the ones to educate the public.
He said no matter the situation, the action of Oluwo is indefensible and apologies must be made.
The people of Osun State await the steps to be taken by the state government over the assault of a king and how such reoccurrence would be forestalled.