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A strange succession crisis has hit Ibadanland, following the passage of the Olubadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji.
Although the next-in-line to the throne, the Otun Olubadan, High Chief Lekan Balogun, is perceived as the natural successor, former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice Michael Lana has written to Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde not to approve his appointment, if selected by the Olubadan-In-Council.
Lana, who is counsel to Osi-Olubadan, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, said since Balogun has been elevated to an Oba and received a crown, he should not be installed as Olubadan.
The Olubadan-In-Council is divided as Ladoja, a former governor of the state, is believed to have opposed Balogun as successor.
However, the kingmakers have declared at a meeting that they would follow the tradition in naming the next Olubadan, regardless of their elevation to obas.
Lana, who is counsel to Ladoja in his suit against elevation of high chiefs to obas in 2017, warned Makinde against the ‘dangers’ of approving Balogun as the next Olubadan.
Ladoja, who ranks next to Balogun on the Olubadan line to the throne, was the only chief who did not receive a beaded crown as oba.
He challenged the elevation in court and won, but Balogun, along with his elevated colleagues, challenged the judgment, which is still pending in court.
Lana, in the January 3, 2022 letter, reminded the governor that except Balogun withdraws his suit challenging the nullification of their elevation, he is not entitled to the throne of Olubadan.
He argued that nowhere in the 1957 Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration is it stated that an already beaded crown-wearing oba can be enthroned for the second time as the Olubadan.
He stressed that approving Balogun while still holding on to the title of an oba, may create the ground for legal battles, which are alien to the Olubadan throne.
Should Balogun be disqualified, Ladoja may be the next Olubadan as he is next-in-line on the Olubadan line, which is to produce the next Olubadan.
Lana’s letter entitled: “Re: Installation of A New Olubadan of Ibadanland, reads: “May I firstly, commiserate with you on the demise of His Royal Majesty, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogunguniso I. the Olubadan of Ibadanland. May his soul rest in peace
Secondly, may l humbly draw your attention to a traditional aberration and illegality that may occur in an attempt to install another Olubadan of Ibadanland, in view of the existence of Suit No./22/2020 HRM Oba (Senator) Lekan Balogun & ORS versus Governor of Oyo State & ORS
“Kindly note, Your Excellency, that your predecessor in office, without thinking of 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. This action was challenged in Suit No. M317/2017 by High Chief Rashidi Ladoja, the former Governor of Oyo State. The High Court Judge, Aiki, nullified the said conferment, which was actually a total contravention of both the Chiefs Law and the Ibadan Chieftaincy Customary Law.
“However, the Court of Appeal, in Appeal No. CA/1B/99/2018, set aside the said judgment of Aiki on technical grounds without touching on the merit of the case and sent the case back for retrial.
“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 judgment 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 judgment and therefore, instituted two separate suits to set aside the consent judgment while at the same time clinging to the title of obas, which actually is in contempt of court.
One of these cases is Suit No.1/22/2020 – HRM
Oba (Senator) Lekan Balogun & ORS versus Governor of Oyo State & ORS.
Now, may I draw, Your Excellency’s attention to the fact that in committing this aberration, which changed the Ibadan chieftaincy customary law, the Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration of 1957 was not amended and therefore, remians extant. 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.
“In the entire history of Ibadanland, we have never had such a situation where the legality or otherwise of the installation of the Olubadan would be an issue and this was what your predecessor did not take into consideration before venturing into an illegal journey. Ibadan chieftaincy elevation had always been smooth and without any rancour to the envy of all other towns. It is in line with this legal situation that I most humbly advise 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.
“I wish you well as you consider, as an Ibadan man and as governor, your place in history.”
However, the Olubadan-In-Council maintained that it would follow tradition in naming the next Olubadan, despite their elevation to obas.
After a two-hour closed-door meeting at the residence of the Otun Olubadan, Balogun, members of the council said they would meet and announce the next Olubadan in line with tradition after the mourning of Oba Adetunji is over.
Ladoja and two other members of the council were absent at the meeting, according to a source.
The statement by the council reads: “Following the demise of the 41st Olubadan of Ibadanland, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso I, on Sunday, members of the Olubadan-in-Council on Monday condoled with the Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Oluseyi Makinde, the people of Ibadanland 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 sancrosanct, 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”.
The Olubadan-in-Council said the elevation granted its members, who also serve as kingmakers, had not in anyway altered the age-long and enviable traditional succession plan to the Olubadan throne.
It added: “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 reverred 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.”