The cold war between some prominent traditional rulers in Ekiti state and the state government has been resolved. The impasse followed the announcement and afterwards inauguration of a reconstituted Council of Obas in the State last August, with the Alawe of Ilawe-Ekiti, Oba Adebanji Alabi as the Chairman, a move opposed to by many Grade A Monarchs in the Council.
This made 17 of the leading members shun council meetings and government activities as they posited that the Alawe is not qualified, as stated in the State's Chieftaincy Law to chairman the council.
In a writ of summons before the Ekiti High Court, the 17 aggrieved kings asked the court to reverse Fayemi’s action on the premise that the Alawe was not recognized by statute to chair the council.
They argued that they had the exclusive right to head the council, among the 22 members, in line with the extant tradition and State Chieftaincy Laws. The monarchs threatened not to attend Alawe’s inauguration as Council Chair and any meeting where he presides.
Five of the 17 aggrieved 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 – changed their stance and have been attending the Obas' council meetings. But the other 11 have been shunning the council meeting and government functions since August 2019.
That development surfaced in a March 11 query – ‘Re: Absence from state functions and Council of Traditional Rulers’ Monthly Meetings’ – signed by A.O. Adeoye, on behalf of the Permanent Secretary of the Bureau of Chieftaincy Affairs. The monarchs were given 72 hours to reply.
In that Letter, Governor Fayemi was quoted to have said the monarch’s deliberate actions and inactions, without any justification, negates the administration of chieftaincy institution.
In the twist of event, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Adeyemi, in a March 12 letter, warned Governor Fayemi against treating the traditional institution with levity. This followed a query issued by Fayemi to 11 prominent monarchs for alleged insubordination.
Oba Adeyemi said he wrote on behalf of other prominent traditional rulers in Yorubaland, including the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; Awujale of Ijebuland Oba Sikiru Adetona and Alake of Egbaland Oba Gbadebo Adedotun.
He said: "the Yoruba traditional institution was ancestral and spiritual, unlike some tribes where nothing is attached to their traditional institutions."
He urged Fayemi to avoid degrading the traditional institution, saying 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.
The Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers in return, cautioned the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, against meddling in its internal affairs. The council told Oba Adeyemi to restrict himself to monarchical affairs in Oyo State.
A letter dated March 14 signed by its Chairman, the Alawe of Ilawe-Ekiti, Oba Adebanji Alabi, to Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, urged him to stop Oba Adeyemi from his ‘undue interference’ in the internal affairs of Ekiti Obas.
The letter, ‘Request to stop undue interference of His Majesty, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, in the internal affairs of Ekiti Obas’, was a reaction to the Alaafin’s alleged letter to Governor Kayode Fayemi.
Oba Alabi said Alaafin’s conduct was ‘unbecoming and absolutely unwarranted’. He added that Oba Adeyemi had no business dabbling into chieftaincy administration in Ekiti State.
According to him, Alaafin’s letter was unwarranted, misguided and lacking in merit.
The letter reads: “It was written without adequate information and knowledge of our chieftaincy matters. The Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers takes exception to Alaafin’s letter, which is absolutely unwarranted, as he cannot superintend over the monarchy in Ekiti State.
“Ekiti State was never and can never be part of Oyo Empire. We, therefore, respectfully ask Governor Makinde to stop the Alaafin from his meddlesomeness in the internal affairs of Ekiti State.
A day after, the photographs of Governor Fayemi were seen on the Social Media, meeting the Alaafin of Oyo, a move many observers saw as a response to the Monarch's Letter and that of the Ekiti State Council of Obas warning the revered Monarch not to meddle in the affairs of Ekiti Obas.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi was in the state on Monday to broker peace in the crisis rocking the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers as he met with the state governor, Governor Fayemi and some of the aggrieved Obas in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital.
The meeting in three phases was first of Ooni and the Aggrieved Monarchs at the Palace of Ewi of Ado-Ekiti.
After that, the Ooni led the aggrieved Obas to the Governor, which was held behind closed doors at the Governor’s Office, Ado-Ekiti. In attendance a renowned historian and Second Republic Senator, Prof Banji Akintoye; and the current Chairman of the Ekiti State Traditional Council, the Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Oba Adebanji Alabi; and the Attah of Ayede-Ekiti, Oba Mumuni
Governor Fayemi, the Ooni and Prof Akintoye, had earlier met briefly before the main meeting with the Obas. Governor Fayemi described the parley with the traditional rulers as a “family meeting.”
Briefing journalists shortly after the meeting, Oba Ogunwusi assured Nigerians and Ekiti people that the meeting succeeded in resolving the impasse that arose as a result of the traditional council chairmanship.
Oba Ogunwusi commended Governor Fayemi for his efforts at ensuring that there was peace among the state traditional rulers by going to the extent of visiting the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi to explain his own side of the story. He described the Governor’s gesture as a honorable move that signified true leadership.
He restated that there is mutual respect and synergy between people in government and the traditional council, adding that Obas are still upholding the heritage, culture and tradition the forefathers handed over to them several thousand years ago.
Also speaking to newsmen on behalf of other traditional rulers, the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe and the Ajero of Ijero Ekiti, Oba Adewole Adebayo said they have resolved to suspend all litigations arising from the chairmanship and related issues.
The Monarchs explained that communication gap between them and government was responsible for the reason why the case was not resolved before now.
The third phase of the meeting had the contentious Chairman - Alawe rode in the Car with the Ooni in a long Convoy of the aggrieved Obas to the Palace of Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, a development that is a departure from the relationship between the Obas' since close to year.
After the meeting, the Alawe of Ilawe told Journalists, said that, the burning issues have been resolved and there was no more division among the monarchs as the issues causing the row among them had been resolved.
"I thank the Arole Oodua-Ooni for this timely intervention in this disagreement between we, Kabiyesis in Ekiti. We are one family, there is no family that will not have disagreement, and the Kabiesi Arole Oodua is a father of all and we are pleased with the way the matter was resolved."
- Adeola Ojo, Ado-Ekiti