…Family members disown newly installed monarch
…They’re jokers – Monarch, govt
From Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
Awo-ekiti, a sleepy community in Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government Area of Ekiti State, has in the last few weeks, been enmeshed in what you could call royal rumble.
SWM gathered that trouble started in Awo community following the installment of Oba Sulaiman Azeez Olaleye, Aladejuyigbe IV as the Alawo of Awo-Ekiti, by Governor Ayo Fayose.
The controversial emergence of Olaleye has assumed different dimension with the most heinous and unhealthy being the religious angle, which has become the people’s greatest cause for concern.
During a recent visit to the town, palpable tension was etched faces of residents in spite of the serenity in the community.
Road blocks by a detachment of mobile policemen drafted to the town at the beginning of the royal turmoil, significantly pointed to the tension mounting in the community.
The armed policemen were drafted to enforce the curfew imposed by the state government.
In the morning of Friday, January 20, a team of policemen was seen under a tree by the road leading to Iropora and Ido communities, which is the main road through the town.
There was another team, which had also created a checkpoint, at the tip of a hill from which an imposing church was noticeable. The security operatives had also, through a blockade, prevented entry to major streets.
Following the emergence of Oba Sulaiman Azeez Olaleye, Aladejuyigbe IV, some members of the Aladejuyigbe royal family, waged a war, led by Chief Eben Alade, who claimed to be the head of Aladejuyigbe’s royal family and disowned Olaleye as a member of the family.
Alade, a retired permanent secretary, challenged Olaleye to name his forbears to confirm he truly belongs to a ruling house in the town.
He told newsmen in Ado Ekiti: “I am the head of Aladejuyigbe family in Awo; and as far as history is concerned, there were three Aladejuyigbes that had ruled the town. The first Aladejuyigbe Oyinyosawawo was our progenitor. Aladejuyigbe the second, Oba Samuel Aladejuyigbe and my own father, James Aladejuyigbe 111. These were our forebears that had occupied the throne. So if Ajibade feels he is from this royal family, he should point to his ancestor among these people.”
Alade further said: “I am the head of the family, I know the history of our dynasties. What we are contesting was the propriety of the government’s action to appoint a non-prince as our monarch. We don’t care who becomes the monarch, whether Muslim or Christian. Hardly can you see any family without Muslims and Christians co-habiting peacefully. So, the rumour that we are fighting religious war is unfounded.”
To him, the crisis “would not have arisen if government had exercised restraint on this issue, because when we learnt that government was planning to present the new Alawo with the staff of office, we approached the court to seek injunction barring the exercise. Before the exparte motion was entertained, government had performed the exercise.”
But the government denied the allegations, saying due processes were followed in the installment and recognition of the current Aladejuyigbe.
The Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Kolapo Kolade, a lawyer, said the 12 kingmakers in the town voted to select Olaleye after five eligible princes were recommended for the throne.
Kolade said it was wrong to have accused the state government of manipulating the process, saying “the government only began the selection process after Justice Dele Omotoso of Ekiti State High Court had disposed of the case instituted against Olaleye.”
Refuting the claim that the monarch was imposed on the town, Kolade said: “The injunction granted them abated on August 6, 2015 and the kingmakers sat on the same day to vote where Prince Olaleye scored six votes to defeat his closest rival, Prince Adesoji Alade, who scored two votes.
“Even at that, we didn’t present the monarch with any staff of office until the eligibility case instituted against him was trashed by the court. The governor only acted as an approving authority and has no power to manipulate or arm-twist the kingmakers.”
The embattled monarch’s first reaction was a call for peace and unity.
“I am for all and I am a man of peace,” he said.
On the claim that he was not one of the Aladejuyigbe, he reacted thus: “If they don’t believe in Jesus Christ; if they don’t believe in Prophet Muhammad, if they don’t believe in God, they would at least believe in Ifa. Whether we like to accept it or not, as Yorubas, we all believe that there is Ifa and our people believe in it. That is why they chose Ifa to make the selection. They consulted an Ifa priest who had come from as far away as Ibadan, on the 6th of August, 2015.
“I was among the nine candidates presented to Ifa. According to what I heard, the Ifa set aside four of the nine and of the five princes that were left, they said I was the most favourable. That was when the kingmakers could go ahead with the voting. From the ballot, I got six votes, another candidate got three while another got one. That’s how I emerged as the Alawo of Awo-Ekiti.
“Since that time, particularly on the second day of my emergence, they drove about five cars round the town shouting that they don’t have a king yet. They’ve been fomenting different kinds of trouble.
“Two of the candidates to the throne went to court to challenge the selection. I won the first and second case. They denied me entry to the palace. The people with the key to the palace refused to let go of the keys. I’ve decided to reside in my elder brother’s house. There is a mosque in the compound and that’s why they said in news reports that I moved to a mosque. I don’t think that my not living in the palace at the moment removes anything from me as the Alawo of Awo. I remain the Alawo and it is only God that can change that.
“They said they don’t know me. Yes, I was living outside Awo but that’s not to say that I don’t know my father. When my father died, he was buried at the palace in Awo. They said my father was a slave but I don’t think that they are right. I intend to ask them some questions and if they can answer that they don’t know some of my relations and their father, then I will admit their claim.”
He said all through 2016, there were troubles “but the Almighty Allah controls everything. I also enlisted the help of the police because whenever we sensed anything, we would call on the law enforcement agencies to notify them and they’ve been so supportive.”
But the new round of troubles led the state to impose a curfew on Sunday, January 15, 2017.
“I’ve always appealed for peace but on that day, it went out of hand because the victims of the stoning felt that they too could react in like manner. That was how the entire town was thrown into chaos. They want to make it look like a religious matter but it is not. Awo is a very peaceful community and somehow, we are interwoven and related. If you are not my elder brother or sister, you could be my in-law or my sister or brother’s in-law.”
On what he thinks would end the crisis, Oba Aladejuyigbe said: “I don’t know what they want. I called them to a meeting. They refused. They’ve just decided to make this community ungovernable for me. If you ask them, they say I’m a ‘stranger’ and I keep wondering what that means. They’ve been petulant. The people fomenting this trouble live at Oke Uba quarters and the people spearheading it are not members of the royal family.”
The leadership of the Christian and Muslim communities in the town had waded into the crisis and the curfew was lifted after five days. But members of the community are hopeful for peace.
An indigene of the community, Mr. Sunday Omotosho said: “We love ourselves in Awo. In other communities, this could have led to the loss of lives.”
However, Omotosho expressed surprise that the matter had lingered. “Some people have refused to let the matter die. We beg them and beg God to help us bring it to an end so that we can continue to live in peace.
Residents who spoke on condition of anonymity have alleged that many of those against Oba Olaleye were strangers themselves.
“From what I have heard and seen, most of the people behind the crisis are even not from the ruling house of the town. They are encouraged by some of the aggrieved members of the ruling house believed to have lost out in the contest for the throne in 2015.”
The man, who chose not to be named because he was not from this state and I may be seen as taking sides, said he had decided to settle in Awo “because of the hospitality and the generosity of the people.”
He said the matter had lingered and “should have been sorted out by now but for some people who have decided to fuel it.”