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Crisis Over Ooni Stool Deepens

Posted: Sep 18, 2015 at 12:53 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Gbenga Faturoti

Osogbo

The crisis over the tussle for the vacant stool of Ooni of Ife is deepening by the day, with interested parties in the contest threatening fire and brimstone.

Things appear to have fallen apart among the ruling houses in Ife since the Osun State Government indicated that the next Ooni would come from the Giesi Ruling House.

The government had officially written to the Giesi Ruling House on Monday to present the candidates for the Ooni stool. The royal family has since forwarded the names of six interested princes vying for the throne to the kingmakers.

However, the situation in Ife has not been the same since the past few days.

As the Giesi Ruling House are going ahead with the conventional processes of presenting the candidates for endorsement of the kingmakers, the Lafogido Ruling House has taken the battle to court, a step that has been widely viewed as capable of disrupting the nomination process and deny the ancient town of having the vacant Ooni stool filled for a long time to come.

A socio-cultural group in the town, the Ife Cradle Youths, has condemned the Lafogido and Ogboru ruling houses over their stance against the choice of the Giesi Ruling House.

The group berated the two ruling houses for instituting legal action against the state government and the Ife Kingmakers, with a view to stalling the selection of the candidate from the Giesi Ruling House.

The group in a statement issued in Osogbo asked the two aggrieved ruling houses to retrace their steps in the interest of peace and preservation of the sanctity of Ooni traditional title.

The Ife Cradle Youths said the decision of Lafogido and Ogboru ruling houses to resort to the court would ridicule the Ife traditional institution and cause disharmony in the ancient town.

The Lafogido has obtained a restraining injunction from an Osogbo High Court against continuing with the process of selecting the next Ooni.

Justice A. A. Aderibigbe granted the injunction yesterday, barring the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola; the Obalufe of Ife, Oba Solomon Omisakin, and Lowa of Ife, Chief Joseph Ijaduola, from taking further steps on the Ooni’s successor.

The matter, with suit number, HOS/16/2015, was filed on behalf of the Lafogido family by Sooko Bunmi Adegoke, Prince Marcus Adebola Akinmoyero as plaintiffs and Governor Aregbesola, Omisakin and Ijaduola as defendants.

The injunction, a copy of which was made available to our newspaper, reads in part: “An order of interim injunction is granted restraining the defendants from accepting nomination, selecting candidates or taking any steps whatsoever in the process of selecting the new Ooni of Ife to fill the vacant stool pending the determination of the motion on notice dated September 15, 2015.

The court adjourned further hearing in the suit till Thursday, September 23, 2015.

The co-ordinator of Ife Cradle Youths, Kunle Elusayo, expressed disappointment with the court action warning that the two houses were taking the matter too far.

The group said: “The 1980 declaration is clear enough and would promote peace and the prestige of the Ooni stool.”

However, the Lafogido Ruling House has said that it resorted to taking legal action over the selection of the new Ooni of Ife because the government and the kingmakers were introducing extraneous rules into the process.

Sookoo Adeleke Adewoyin, head of Sooko of Lafogido Ruling House, told newsmen yesterday that the process being used by the State Government and the Kingmakers allowing Giesi Ruling House only to present candidate(s) to fill the vacant stool was alien to Lafogido and entire Ife.

This was even as the youth group also lamented that the two families, who headed to court were not laying good examples for the coming generations.

The statement read: “We are highly disappointed by the action of our fathers in the ruling houses. It is our utmost believes that they should know better and not cause confusion in the town. They should know that even if the declaration has some faults, as alleged by them, such cannot be corrected during interregnum.

“Ruling houses should not ridicule the Ooni stool for any reason, going to court is an attempt to ridicule and cause embarrassment to our tradition. It will be unfair to see our highly rated and world most respected tradition being suspended by a court.

“History is clear and not hidden to anyone. It is the same declaration that screened out and denied Giesi that is used now. Where we these families then, why didn’t they point out errors, why didn’t Ogboru reject the throne when rotated to them?

“Ruling houses should not destroy the legacy of peace struggled for and achieved by the late Ooni, Oba Sijuwade Okunade II. Going to court to distort tradition can cause crisis among indigenes, ruling houses and even traditional rulers. We don’t want anything problem in our town. They should allow Giesi to also use its turn.”

Sooko Adewoyin, who is also former Deputy Governor in Osun State in the administration of Chief Adebisi Akande, noted that the ruling house did not expect any challenge as to why it should not produce the next Ooni.

It would be recalled that the State Government and Ife Traditional Chiefs had few days ago affirmed that Giesi would present candidates to be considered for the next Ooni.

The government and kingmakers had said in the resolution that they would not entertain candidates from other ruling houses, adding that they based their action on the 1980 Ife Chieftaincy Declaration, which was also used to install the immediate past monarch, Oba Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II.

However, Sooko Adewoyin described the 1980 declaration as fraud and completely outside Ife Customs and Tradition, thus calling for immediate review of the declaration.

He said that the call for review became imperative because the ruling house had been marginalised in all the chieftaincy reviews that had taken place in Ile-Ife.

According to him, “all the new Ife chieftaincy declarations are alien to the ruling houses,” stressing that there are only two ruling houses in Ile-Ife and that Lafogido was one.

“The edict being used was done in a manner we don’t understand. The declaration used cannot hold water in Ife and Ife people are completely against the court. It is our prayer too that the kingmakers will not disobey the court.

“We believe that the state government will not do anything in the interest of peace for all and progress. This is because we don’t expect that there should be any competition at all for Lafogido Ruling House,” he said.

He explained that the ruling house must be allowed to fill the vacant stool now twice to balance what has happened in the past.

“We believe that the state government will listen to us,” he said.