It Is Legitimate Turn Of Lafogido To Fill Vacant Ooni Stool —Adewoyin | Independent Newspapers Limited
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It Is Legitimate Turn Of Lafogido To Fill Vacant Ooni Stool —Adewoyin

Posted: Sep 26, 2015 at 12:45 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The selection process for a candidate to occupy the stool of the Ooni of Ife, following the demise of Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II on July 28, has been stalled by a court case instituted by the Lafogido Ruling House on the ground of marginalisation and Injustice. In this interview with our Correspondent, Gbenga Faturoti, head of the ruling house, Sookoo Adeleke Adewoyin speaks on the grievances and position of the house and why it resorted to legal redress. Excerpts:

What is the perception of your ruling house to the stool of the Ooni of Ife?

Sookoo Adeleke Adewoyin, Head of Lafogido Ruling House

Sookoo Adeleke Adewoyin, Head of Lafogido Ruling House

First and foremost, let me establish that our grouse is that we have been marginalised for too long and this is the time for us to cry out to the whole world. Some people are talking about the 1957 Edict, 1977 and 1980 Edicts, the one which our ruling house believes in is that of 1958 which stipulates that after Osinkola who was reigning Oba at that time, Giesi should follow; next is Ogboru and next is Lafogido. For now, we are not disputing that of 1957/58. But to satisfy their life-long ambition to become the Ooni of Ife, other edicts were hurriedly introduced and we raised objection to them at the Commission of Inquiry, but all the efforts made by Lafogido to take their case logically… the historical case for that matter, were ignored and not considered because you cannot determine the order of rotation without reference to historical facts. All these were ignored. What we found later was that Ogboru who was then number three moved to number two, Giesi was number two in that rotational arrangement moved to number three, Lafogido still remained in number for. And since then, we have been on it.

Why we disagree with that position again ignoring the outcome of that Inquiry which was hurriedly done is that it is against the custom and tradition of Ife. The history we are trying to establish is that Ogboru, Giesi and Osinkola they are of one parenthood, they belong to the Lajodogun side, Lafogido who is a senior brother to Lajodogun remains one.

Lafogido would have been splited as well but the tradition known at that time made them to be compact. We did not know that that one (would one day) result to a disadvantage, because since then only one Lafogido offspring reigned as Ooni of Ife, it is unfair. The history is there for anybody to see. Lafogido reigned last as Ooni of Ife in 1930. We don’t know how they did it and we have the right to cry out. Do you want Lafogido to go into extinction and if we allow this one to go and wait for another 70 years again without protesting it, our children will have nothing to say because by then everybody must have parked away (died). That is why we said this time around, it is not going to happen again.

Secondly, why we say it is against the tradition of Ife, the outcome of the Edits if even there should be a rotation, it is supposed that the rotation should be within children of the same lineage. That is Osinkola, Ogboru and Giesi if at all we want to accept that, till date they should do rotation among themselves. It should be Lajodogun/Lafogido, Lajodogun/Lafogido and so on but now it is concentrated in one of the ruling houses, which is Lajodogun, these are ground of our grievances.

Thirdly, why are we saying Ogboru and Giesi are one and the same, there was a king known as Ogboru who reigned in Ife for about 70 years, the Ifes… not that they did not like him, but they felt that the reign was getting too long, he smelt a coup against him and left the throne into exile. He went on exile at Ife-Odan after that other were made the Ooni of Ife and they were dying after the other spending only one months, two days on the throne, then the Ife people have a rethink on the happenings and resolved to beg the Oba in exile to come back, they went to him and by then there was no Giesi, they went to him saying Baba come back and continue your reign but he refused to come, then he said his eldest daughter should go and reign, when that one got  home and told the story to the people of Ife, they said rather than you reign as a weman, don’t you have a son? The name of that son is now Giesi. The surprise thing is that Giesi we don’t know his father, his father can be an Ibo man, it is only the mother (Moropo) that we know in Ife to be a princess. That was how they established that ruling house. How can somebody who is not from a royal family become a king in Ife?

Our stand is that the obaship should be given to somebody of male parentage not female parentage.

That was why we faulted the Justice Ademola Commission of Inquiry on the principle that its rotational arrangements is against the tradition and custom of Ife, and our people in Lafogido were not allowed to ventilate their case properly and the result of that enquiry was made to satisfy the lifelong ambition of a particular set of people.

Are you also calling for the splitting of your ruling house to make up the number in other side for equality?

This time we are saying that calling Giesi, a product of chance (circumstance) to present candidates to fill the vacant stool is unfair. So if we stand by the Edict of 1958 because (Giesi) was second in the arrangement, they lost it and they accepted that the arrangement should go on like that. Ogboru and Giesi they are one and the same. Those are grounds why we are crying out now.

Why do you have to wait till now before crying out?

In 1992 there was an attempt at calling on the government to re-arrange this thing and Justice Adewale Babalakin was put in place by the government at that time to look into the matter and in its report on the review which was put down in black and white, he said he was presented with conflicting information about the historical background of Lajamisan, that the best thing the government should do is to call all the ruling houses together and if I may read: Recommendation of Justice Babalakin Inquiry: In view of all the researches that have been carried out in the Ife history, when the first declaration on the stool of Ooni was made, there would appear to be an urgent need for all the ruling houses in Ife to meet, discuss and agree on the number of Lajamisan’s children, the outcome of their meeting will dictate whether or not there is necessity to amend the present Ooni of Ife chieftaincy declaration.”

The commission therefore recommended to the state government to cause this to be done. That was a document with the government since 1992, after the1980 (Gazette) which they are now relying on. The attorney General of the state at that time is still alive and he is Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) now the Asiwaju of Igbajo during the administration of Alhaji Isiaka Adeleke government. This will answer the question of what we have been doing since 1980 because the 1980 edict was hurriedly carried out after the 1976 when an Oba got to the throne. How then can we now rely on the 1980 declaration that has been discredited in 1992 by Justice Babalakin.

As the situation is now, what do you think is the way out of this impasse?

Let them revert back to Justice Babalakin’s recommendations. We are asking for two things. One alternate the other. They should call on Lafogido to fill the vacant stool of Ooni because it is legitimately our turn. Then the government should revert back to Justice Babalakin’s recommendations of 1992 on the matter by calling on all ruling houses to sit down and discuss and establish Lajamisan’s children. All the tentacles and roots of Lajodogun side should go back under their unit, if there should be a rotation, let it be rotated among them. In Lafogido, we also have five lineages and if government wants to be fair to us, since Lajodogun has been divided into three, In Lafogido we also have five ruling houses, let Lafogido be divided into five and all together should make eight and can then be rotated among the eight ruling houses. But that does not make sense in Ife. Lafogido has been following the tradition and custom of Ile-Ife and noticed that all the kings that have reigned from Lafogido are direct descendants of Lajamisan and from male lineage. We have not installed anybody from female lineage in Ife. It has not happened in our time. And also, part of the tradition is that the product of the female cannot be king when there are available males in other ruling houses who are direct descendants.

The Ife kingmakers are supposed to be wise and mature about the history and tradition of Ile-Ife and based on what you said, are you saying they have deviated from the truth on the tradition and rotation arrangement when they affirmed that Giesi should present candidate(s)?

We are not accusing the kingmakers because they have proven integrity, we believe by their age, they should be versatile about Ife history in relation to the Ooni of Ife stool. But this time around, what they are relying upon is this 1980 edict which says what they are saying. I believe some of them have not become chief by 1980 not to talk of 1987. We are not blaming them and it is the duty of the ruling houses to put the record straight and give the necessary information. We have called their attention to it to go through the 1992 Justice Babalakin report on the Ife Chieftaincy Matter.

Have you called the attention of the king makers to these important facts that you are claiming?

Oh yes, we have done that in an informal manner. But now that the process is in court, we shall table the facts before the court.

But there is an adage in Yoruba that you cannot drag somebody to court and come back to still remain friends…

We pointed out the claims, that the process was wrong. If you are being cheated, it is the duty of the cheated to cry out to the public.

Since the state government has made up its mind with the king makers, have you channelled your grievances as ruling house to these two stakeholders?

We have channelled our grievances to the government and nothing was done. The only wise thing for us to do now is to stall that process in court and seek to consult further.

I want to say that Lafogido has taken the wise decision to allow interested parties to have a look at it because there must be something wrong somewhere. That was why we used the court to stop it. Let us have a look at it again. The Ooni of Ife stool is not just for Ifes alone, the two monarchs that have passed have elevated the status so high and it will be bad for someone without any good pedigree to occupy the stool, what Lafogido is doing is for the benefit of the entire Yoruba race, if we fold our arms and we begin to look, and put a stupid man there, he would embarrass everybody. It is for the interest of every one of us, including the media to look into the matter.

I want to know whether Lafogido has opened up dialogue with Ife Kingmakers.

We have started and the government is aware of this. I believe the government is supposed to know better and tell all the ruling houses to remain calm while we look into all the claims on ground.

Assuming the government and kingmakers now agree that all ruling houses should file candidates and eventually the person that emerges is from Giesi, what will happed?

If that is the decision of the Ifes, we would abide by it but our contention is this, we in Lafogido do not know any ruling house bearing Giesi but Ogboru. If (we should go by) what we were left behind by our forefathers of Lafogido and Lajodogun, Lafogido should produce Ooni now. Ogboru is Lajodogun and want to put Giesi who we believe is same as Ogboru/Lajodogun, it is not fair. Our own contention is not whether government says everybody go and bring one candidate, what we are saying is that they are not qualified now. Lajodogun is the junior and have been cheating on the senior who is Lafogido. It is not fair and good enough in Ife to allow just a ruling house to continue to present candidates.

Has there been a point in time in Ife when a ruling house is allowed to present candidate to fill the Ooni’s stool?

In case of Oba Adesoji Aderemi, Ajayi Ademiluyi was king and the king makers agreed at that time that it should go to Lajodogun and Aderemi become king, and nobody from Lafogido contested with him. It was during the 50-year reign of Oba Aderemi that all these others ruling houses and names came about.

Are you saying that it was Oba Aderemi that created this crisis of many ruling houses in Ife?

You can deduce what you want to deduce from it. We have told you how the whole things happened and came about. The matter is in court and they will look into it and whatever be the decision, we shall abide by it.

What of if the case in the court drags for so long and Ile-Ife which is the cradle of Yoruba race remains without a king, would you allow that?

We would not allow it to drag for so long. We are interested in that; all we are interested in is justice.