Community Head battles Deji of Akure

….. Akure North Obas, Olus drum support for Chief Agunbiade as Olu Eleyowo

There is a palpable tension at Eleyowo community in Akure North local government area of Ondo state, as a traditional head of Eleyowo, Chief Olomi Adesina Agunbiade, has drawn a battle line with the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladelusi Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade over the appointment of Olu of Eleyowo.

Chief Agunbiade who is the Olu of Eleyowo Community, was appointed by the Oloba of Obaile like his predecessors and declared that it was legally, historically and traditionally wrong for Oba Aladetoyinbo to be claiming that the community belongs to Akure.

In a letter signed by his lawyer on his behalf, Chief Agunbiade noted that from time immemorial, a descendant of the Oloba of Obaile founded Eleyowo community, explaining that Akure or Deji of Akure had no historical or traditional link with the community.

The position of the Olu of Eleyowo is contained in a letter written and signed by his lawyer, Mr Femi Emmanuel Emodamori to reply a threat letter written on behalf of the Deji by B.D Asani & Associates, asking Chief Agunbiade to stop parading himself as Olu of Eleyowo.

The Akure monarch said he had appointed one Boboye Ojo as the new Olu of Eleyowo, but Agunbiade described such claim by Oba Aladetoyinbo as provocative and illegal as no court or tradition gives him power to make such appointment.

Emodamori said in the letter, “For the avoidance of doubt however, our client (Chief Agunbiade) is the legitimate Olu of Eleyowo, appointed by the legitimate prescribed authority, and duly recognized by the legitimate constituted authorities in Ondo State. He would therefore continue to parade himself as such, and would not be deterred by the empty threats of your client in the letter under reference.

“If your client (Oba Aladetoyinbo) is still under the wishful thinking that he has any judgment of a court of law declaring or confirming him as the prescribed authority for minor chieftaincies in the entire communities in both Akure South and Akure North Local Government Areas on Ondo State where there is no Oba, and the Eleyowo Community of our client in particular, as wrongly claimed in your letter, and you think it is appropriate to encourage him in that regard, you may advise the Deji of Akure to go ahead and file contempt proceedings against our client for disobedience to that judgment.

Akure North Obas and Olus including the Oloba of Obaile, have pledged their support for Chief Agunbiade in asserting his right against the Deji of Akure.

“We would want your client to be assured however, that from our brief, the Oloba of Oba-Ile as well as the entire Akure North Obas and Olus are fully united and solidly behind our client, in resisting the provocative, imperialist and unconstitutional incursions of the Deji of Akure, whose domain is Akure South Local Government, into Akure North Local Government over matters of appointment of minor chieftaincies, whether in Eleyowo or any other community in Akure North Local Government. It is an aberration that cannot stand under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Chieftaincy Laws of Ondo State, which recognize each Local Government as a distinct administrative entity with statutory powers over chieftaincy matters and Committees in their respective domains, subject only to statutory supervisory roles of the State Government, and not to any self-acclaimed monarchical imperialist,” Agunbiade’s lawyer.

Below is the full text of the letter by Olu of Eleyowo, Chief Agunbiade as written by his lawyer to the Deji’s Counsel;

15th April, 2020

B.D Asani & Associates
133, Oba Adesida Road
Akure.
Attention: O.S Adedeko Esq.

Dear Colleague,

RE: NEED TO DESIST FROM PARADING YOURSELF AS OLU OF ELEYEWO COMMUNITY, AKURE NORTH LOCAL GOVERNMENT, ONDO STATE TO AVOID UNPLEASANT CONSEQUENCES OF THE LAW; A CLASSIC CASE OF THE PROVERBIAL THIEF BECOMING THE ACCUSER OF THE BONAFIDE OWNER.

Chief Olomi Adesina Agunbiade, the Olu of Eleyowo Community in Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State, who is hereinafter with all humility addressed as “our client”, has honoured us with the instruction to reply your letter dated 7th April, 2020 in respect of the above subject matter, which was written to him and copied to the Hon. Commissioner for Works in Ondo State as well as one Boboye Ojo, who was described as “The Olu of Eleyowo” in the letter.
Your letter was written on behalf of HRM Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi, the Deji of Akure, claiming that he is the prescribed authority for minor chieftaincies over Akure land/community in both Akure South and Akure North Local Government Areas, and that his traditional power in that regard has “been confirmed by judgment (sic) of court of competent jurisdiction which is still subsisting.” The purported judgment was attached as Annexure A to the letter.

Your client also asserted in the letter that he did not appoint our client as the Olu of Eleyowo, and that it was the said Boboye Ojo whom he appointed as such. Instructively, your letter is full of threats of “unpleasant consequences” against our client if he does not stop parading himself as the Olu of Eleyowo.

Our client views the entire content of your letter as a classic example of the Yoruba proverb of a thief not promptly arrested, turning around to become the accuser of the bonafide owner. Eleyowo, according to our client, is a community which traditionally and historically formed part of Oba-Ile Town, under the traditional rulership of His Royal Majesty, the Oloba of Oba-Ile, who is the prescribed authority of Eleyowo under the relevant Chieftaincy Laws of Ondo State, and the person who appointed our client as the Olu of Eleyowo, just as His Majesty (Oloba) appointed all the previous Olus of Eleyowo before our client.

It may also interest you that from our brief, the Oloba of Oba-Ile is in fact, the one who has been playing some pivotal traditional roles in the installation and preservation of the Deji of Akure title holders, in the sense that there was a time in the past when the entire Akure traditional leaders had to come and plead with the Oloba of Oba-Ile to allow his full-blooded son to come to Akure and be installed as the Deji of Akure, based on the recommendation of their Ifa oracle, in order to cure the then prevalent premature deaths of the Akure Obas.

That led to the installation of Oba Gbeyi, a biological son of Oloba of Oba-Ile, as the Deji of Akure. Oba Gbeyi later became the first and only Deji of Akure who died and was buried in the Palace of the Deji of Akure up till date.

Interestingly, the above historical facts, according to our client, are notorious facts which are well known to the traditional leaders in Akure, and have never been denied by any of the previous holders of the Deji of Akure chieftaincy.

As a matter of fact, in page 26 of the judgment attached as Annexure A to your letter, is the following extract from the evidence of Chief Taye Fagite, the Sele of Akure Land, who testified as DW3 for the Deji of Akure in that case, as recorded by the learned Judge who determined the case:

“He admitted that Oba Agbeyi Adegbite, the father of Otutubiosun who founded Isinigbo, was once an Oba in Akure and a full son of Oloba of Oba-Ile. The witness affirmed that Oba Agbeyi was brought from Oba Ile to be enthroned in Akure as solution to the pre-mature death of the Deji of Akure by performing a sacrifice with goat, kola-nuts etcetera in Oba Ile and up till today, the rites subsists.”

Our client, who is also a full-blooded descendant of the Oloba of Oba-Ile, stated that up till date, no Deji of Akure would be installed without him coming to Oloba of Oba-Ile to pay homage and perform some traditional rites. Your letter was actually addressed to our client as “Prince Olomi Agunbiade”, thereby admitting that he is from the royal lineage.

He knows the facts, the history, and the tradition too well to be intimidated by your client. Contrary to the baseless assertion of your client in the letter under reference therefore, what subsists till today is the historical and traditional ‘hegemony’ of Oba-Ile and the Oloba of Oba-Ile over the Deji of Akure stool, the political rankings and sometimes outright maneuverings of the traditional stools, as well as the fact that Akure was made the State Capital notwithstanding.

According to our client, it is an indisputable fact that Eleyowo is part of Oba-Ile land and was in fact founded by the direct descendants of the Oloba of Oba-Ile. All the previous Baale/Olus of Eleyowo who reigned before our client, were appointed by the Oloba of Oba-Ile, to wit: (1) Chief Arowolo Joshua (The first and only Baale of Eleyowo); (2) Chief Awokunle; and (3) Chief Ayodele Owonifari.

Our client, who is the current Olu of Eleyowo, was appointed and installed in January 2017 by the same Oloba of Oba-Ile, HRM Oba Joseph Oluwadare Agunbiade. He is officially recognized by Akure North Local Government. He is, in fact, a member of the Akure North Local Government Chieftaincy Committee.
According to our client, the current Deji of Akure has since his assumption of office, been embarking on some completely provocative, imperialist and illegal interference in chieftaincy matters in Akure North Local Government and Eleyowo Community in particular, based on the fallacious claim that Akure North Local Government Area is part of Akure land, apparently because of the inclusion of the word “Akure” as part of the statutory name of the Local Government.

The Deji of Akure has been instigating disorderliness in Eleyowo Community (like some other communities in Akure North Local Government) by purportedly appointing and/or installing one Ojo Boboye as a parallel or rival Olu of Eleyowo, after obtaining a pledge of subservience or loyalty from the latter, according to our client.

According to our client, shortly after his purported appointment as a rival Olu of Eleyowo by the Deji of Akure, and upon realizing that the purported appointment was a non-event, regarded as a circus by the entire Eleyowo Council of Chiefs who are loyal to our client, the said Ojo Boboye had instituted an action at the Ondo State High Court sitting in Akure, with Suit No: AK/31/2017: Chief Ojo Boboye V. Attorney-General & Commissioner for Justice, Ondo State and 2 others, seeking declarations to the effect that the Deji of Akure had power to appoint him as the Olu of Eleyowo, and that his appointment as such was proper.

A copy of the Writ of Summons in that case is attached hereto as Annexure A for your confirmation, in case your client withheld that information from you. The Oloba of Oba-Ile, and the current Olu of Eleyowo (our client), were the 2nd and 3rd Defendants in the suit, as evidenced in the Writ of Summons, and our Law Firm handled the case for the duo.

Rather than allow the Court to determine his spurious claims, Ojo Boboye later rushed to the Court to file a Notice of Discontinuance of the suit, as a result of which the case was struck out by the Court on 15th March, 2018. A Certified True Copy of the Enrolment of Order striking out the suit is attached hereto as Annexure B.

There is no court of law that has nullified the appointment and/or installation of our client as the Olu of Eleyowo by the Oloba of Oba-Ile till date. Eleyowo Community is not, and has never been part of Akure land, or what your client refers to as Akure kingdom.

The fact that Eleyowo is part of Oba-Ile land, and the founding of Eleyowo Community by the descendants of Oloba of Oba-Ile, are facts that have been founded upon again and again in court judgments and ipso facto, settled. May we refer your client to just two of those fairly recent cases, the first of which is Suit No: AK/229/2013: Abisoye Atoloye & 3 others V. Adebanjo Fabonmi & 2 Others, which was in respect of adverse claims by the parties to a parcel of land in Eleyowo.

Interestingly, judgment was delivered in the case on 30th June, 2015 by the same Hon. Justice W.A Akintoroye who determined the Annexure A attached to your letter.

His lordship preferred and accepted the evidence of the Defendants in that case to the effect that the land in dispute and the entire Eleyowo land was originally part of Oba-Ile land, and granted to them by the Oloba of Oba-Ile. That judgment was affirmed by the Court of Appeal in a judgment delivered on 14th June, 2018, in Appeal No: CA/AK/144/2015: Abisoye Atoloye & 3 Others V. Sunday Adebanjo Fabonmi & Another.

The second case is Suit No: AK/302/2011: Abisoye Atoloye & 2 Others V. Abidakun Tapere Jegede & Another, which was equally in respect of another parcel of land in the same Eleyowo. Judgment was delivered in the latter case by the highly respected Hon. Justice A.O Adegbehingbe, on 6th August, 2013, in favour of the Defendants- Counter-Claimants, who traced the origin of the land to the Oloba of Oba-Ile. The judgment was also upheld by the Court of Appeal on 11th May, 2016, in Appeal No: CA/AK/237/2013: Abisoye Atoloye & 2 Others V. Jumoke (Nee Tapere Jegede.

Significantly, all the parties in the cases mentioned above traced the original ownership of the Eleyowo lands and those parcels of land in dispute, to the Oloba of Oba-Ile. The courts only preferred the version of historical or traditional evidence adduced by some of the parties, for being more cogent and coherent.

The judgments cited above are public documents accessible by the whole world, and there are many other judgments affirming the original ownership of Eleyowo land by the Oloba of Oba-Ile.

Again, Eleyowo is not, was not, and has never been part of Akure land.
There is also nowhere in the 50-page judgment attached as Annexure A to your letter, or any other judgment of the court, where it was held that your client is the prescribed authority over Eleyowo.

As a matter of fact, our client and/or the Eleyowo Community were never a party to the case in Annexure A attached to your letter. The case was in respect of Isinigbo Community, not Eleyowo. The Deji of Akure was sued as a Defendant in that case, and he never counter-claimed. Can a court give judgment to a Defendant who never counter-claimed as misrepresented in your letter?

Where in that judgment did the Court hold that the Deji of Akure is the prescribed authority for minor chieftaincies the entire Akure South and Akure North Local Government Areas as claimed in your letter?

The terms of the judgment in Exhibit A attached to your letter are contained in page 49 thereof. Consequently, the claim by your client regarding the judgment is patently false and unfounded. If your client, who is a Traditional Ruler but a layman in legal matters, could not interpret the contents of the judgment attached to your letter, the duty rests on you as a Legal Practitioner, with due respect, to at least read and interpret the judgment before allowing your client to brandish same in your official correspondence, and making legally baseless claims in respect of same.

For the avoidance of doubt however, our client is the legitimate Olu of Eleyowo, appointed by the legitimate prescribed authority, and duly recognized by the legitimate constituted authorities in Ondo State. He would therefore continue to parade himself as such, and would not be deterred by the empty threats of your client in the letter under reference.

If your client is still under the wishful thinking that he has any judgment of a court of law declaring or confirming him as the prescribed authority for minor chieftaincies in the entire communities in both Akure South and Akure North Local Government Areas on Ondo State where there is no Oba, and the Eleyowo Community of our client in particular, as wrongly claimed in your letter, and you think it is appropriate to encourage him in that regard, you may advise the Deji of Akure to go ahead and file contempt proceedings against our client for disobedience to that judgment.

Is that not the legal consequence that follows an alleged disobedience to the judgment of a court of law?
We would want your client to be assured however, that from our brief, the Oloba of Oba-Ile as well as the entire Akure North Obas and Olus are fully united and solidly behind our client, in resisting the provocative, imperialist and unconstitutional incursions of the Deji of Akure, whose domain is Akure South Local Government, into Akure North Local Government over matters of appointment of minor chieftaincies, whether in Eleyowo or any other community in Akure North Local Government.

It is an aberration that cannot stand under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Chieftaincy Laws of Ondo State, which recognize each Local Government as a distinct administrative entity with statutory powers over chieftaincy matters and Committees in their respective domains, subject only to statutory supervisory roles of the State Government, and not to any self-acclaimed monarchical imperialist.

Our client restated that he and the entire Eleyowo Council of Chiefs had as far back as 28th December, 2018 written His Excellency, the Governor of Ondo State, a letter with Reference No: FEE/GOV/ODS/11/18, complaining about the provocative actions of your client, the Deji of Akure, concerning the Olu of Eleyowo chieftaincy and the security implications of such actions.

Similar letters were written to the office of the Deputy Governor and the Commissioner for Chieftaincy Affairs as well as the Attorney-General.
Our client said the Akure North Obas had before then written their protest letters to the State Government over similar complaints against the Deji of Akure, sequel to which the State Government convened a security meeting involving the Akure North Obas/Olus and the Deji of Akure on 18th September, 2018.

The meeting was chaired by the Deputy Governor. The resolution in that meeting was that all the parties should desist from actions and utterances that could jeopardize the peace, maintain the status quo, and continue to peacefully pursue their grievances through the pending court cases on the chieftaincy dispute among the Akure North Obas and the Deji, the outcome of which the government would consider in its efforts to broker peace among them.

Our client said he had since been prevailing on his Council of Chiefs as well as the youths in Eleyowo Community to maintain peace, even when the Deji of Akure thereafter personally came to Eleyowo to supervise the erection of a sign post in front of the house of Ojo Boboye, announcing him as the Olu of Eleyowo, an act which under the Yoruba custom constitutes grave provocation to the traditional establishment in the community.

Our client simply notified the necessary security and government agencies of that act of aggression by the Deji of Akure and his surrogates in Eleyowo, in faithfulness to the admonition of the State Government.
What prompted the Deji of Akure to start stirring the hornets’ nest again through your letter, and the reason why the letter was directed to the Commissioner for Works, and not even the Commissioner in charge of Chieftaincy Affairs, are best known to your client.

Our client stated that he and his prescribed authority or appointer, HRM the Oloba of Oba-Ile, as well as the entire Obas and Olus in Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State, think enough is enough of the acts of provocation of the Deji of Akure, and would want you to use your professional judgment to advise him that respect begets respect, and honour begets honour, just as the reverse would naturally attract its negative consequence.

Your client, they said, is not the first to ascend the respected throne of the Deji of Akure, and would definitely not be the last.

Yours faithfully

Femi Emmanuel Emodamori

Cc:
1. His Excellency
His Excellency, Rotimi Akeredolu, S.A.N
The Executive Governor of Ondo State
Governor’s Office, Alagbaka
Akure.
2. The Deputy Governor of Ondo State
Governor’s Office, Alagbaka
Akure.
3. The Hon. Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Local Government Affairs
Ministry of Chieftaincy and Local Government Affairs
Alagbaka, Akure.
4. The Hon. Commissioner for Works and Housing
Ondo State Ministry of Works and Housing
Oyemekun Road
Akure.
5. The Commissioner of Police
Ondo State Police Command Headquarters
Igatoro Road, Alagbaka
Akure.
6. The Caretaker Chairman
Akure North Local Government Area
Iju Ita-Ogbolu.

Your Excellency/ Sir(s)
The above is for your attention and necessary action, please.

Yours faithfully

Femi Emmanuel Emodamori

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