Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
Ileogbo, headquarters of Ayedire Local Government Area of Osun State is currently embroiled in chieftaincy tussle. This followed the installation of Kehinde Shittu as Balogun by the Olu of Ileogbo, Oba Abeeb Agbajelola.
Certainly, Shittu is not the choice of the Balogun Igbinyemi family, which holds the sole right to present candidate for the chieftaincy position. To this end, the family raised the alarm calling on Governor Gboyega Oyetola, chairman, Ayedire LG and the Commissioner of Police to intervene before the situation degenerates into violence.
The family alleged that attempts were made by some hoodlums to demolish a monumental edifice erected by their forebears at their family compound but for their alertness and warned those behind the attack to desist for peace to reign.
The head of the family, Mr Buraimoh Raji, alleged that their heritage is being jeopardised by the traditional ruler allegedly for some unknown reasons. He said the matter was pending before the state high court in Iwo until recently when it was struck out for reasons not known to members of the family that instituted the case.
He expressed worry on attempts by some high profiled indigenes of the town to distort history: “The title of Balogun of Ileogbo is the sole right of the Balogun Igbinyemi descendants that make up the Balogun Igbinyemi ruling house.”
But for their peaceful disposition to the matter, Raji said the matter would have snowballed into violence, claiming that two persons now lay claim to the position of Balogun of Ileogbo.
Although the Balogun presented by his family, Bode Oyedeji, was not recognised by Oba Agbajelola, he insisted: “He (Oyedeji) is the one recognised by the family and he has continued to perform all the functions and duties attached to the office.” He said three members of the family were remanded in prison custody over the chieftaincy matter, adding that the family would continue to fight for its right.
A member of the family, Ilelaboye Akinbayo, alleged that the family hall was partly demolished by some hoodlums who he alleged of vandalising some properties of the family members: “Mr Shittu who was purportedly installed the Balogun of Iwo is not a bonafide indigene of the Balogun Igbinyemi ruling house that is entitled to the position. We will do everything possible to resist the imposition because the impostor is not known to us.
“Shittu was installed in the night against the tradition of the town. The only Balogun of Ileogbo that is known to us is our own Chief Bode Oyedeji. He was the only one that the family presented to the traditional council for installation and we don’t know how Shittu managed his way. For peace to reign in the town, recognition must be given to Oyedeji by the Olu of Ileogbo.
“We had in 1999 instituted a suit before the Osun State High Court siting in Iwo but the case was struck out by Justice Akin Oladimeji a few months ago. We were not briefed on why it was so. But our lawyers are still working on the matter.”
Also, Muritala Akinbayo who bemoaned the alleged treatment meted against the family said the family made attempts to meet with the monarch and the traditional chiefs of the town but to know avail. He claimed that some prominent persons in the town are sponsoring attacks against the family.
He warned against the consequences of such acts, saying that the matter if not properly handled could lead to violence. He called on the leadership of the Osun State Traditional council, Governor Oyetola to investigate the matter, even as he advised the monarch to thread the path of peace and dignity.
Akinbayo maintained that members of the family are law abiding and peaceful, insisting that the family has resolved to resist by all means any attempt by any individual or group of people to trespass on the heritage of the family.
The family also petitioned chairman, Ayedire LG over attempts by some irate individuals in the town to destroy its family hall. In a petition dated October 6, 2019 and signed by 26 members of the family including Oyedeji, the family alleged that the Owotan family to which Chief Shittu who was installed Balogun did not contribute to the building of the family house and hall which was demolished.
The family called on the local government to allow justice prevail: “We are peace loving people and we want justice to prevail because it looks like some unknown forces are behind the matter.”
The Olu of Ileogbo was not at the palace when this reporter visited. He was said to have travelled outside the town and his mobile line was not released. However, a palace chief said the monarch invited members of the two sides for a peace meeting but the meeting ended in a fiasco.
He said efforts are on top gear by the traditional ruler and some prominent indigenes with the leadership of the Ileogbo Progressive Union (IPU) to resolve the matter amicably.
He informed that all the parties involved in the matter are aware of efforts made by the traditional ruler to resolve it and restore peace, adding that the matter would soon be resolved amicably.
Chairman, Ayedire LG, Mr Mukaila Oladejo, said the authorities of the local government had intervened in the matter and directed all the affected parties to the palace of Olu of Ileogbo for amicable settlement of the matter. He said he, alongside security chiefs in the council area including the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), head of the Department of State Security (DSS) and the head of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) brokered peace between the two warring parties:
“When we received the petition from the Balogun Igbinyemi family concerning the alleged demolition of their family house, the council intervened in the matter and we called on security agencies to investigate the matter.
“Chieftaincy matters are always very sensitive and we don’t always dabble into it, so we referred them to the palace of the Olu of Ileogbo and we followed it up. I am aware that the monarch invited them to a peace meeting but I don’t know the outcome of the meeting.”
He stressed that the matter would be settled by the traditional ruler of the town if it has not been settled, assuring that he would not allow it degenerate into violence.
Shittu could not be reached, as his mobile line was not reachable. However, one of his loyalists who identified himself as Mukaila said Shittu’s installation followed all the laid down rules and traditions of the town, saying that he was duly nominated by the family.
He said Shittu is a member of the Balogun family and by that he is entitled to the title of Balogun. He added that his installation gained the approval of the Ileogbo traditional council under the leadership of the Olu of Ileogbo.
On the alleged demolition of the family house, he said: “The family house is a generational edifice of the family where our forefathers were buried and the Balogun could not have been instrumental to its demolition.”
Oyedeji claimed he was the only candidate recognised by the Balogun family and remained the authentic occupier of the position.
He said the family challenged the installation of Shittu in court before the matter was struck out:
“The family will reinstitute the case or challenge the position of the court before the Court of Appeal.
“The family will continue to embrace peace as it has been doing over the years. I have appealed to my people to allow peace to reign. The Balogun title is the sole right of the Balogun Igbinyemi descendants and I am one of them.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mrs Folasade Odoro, said she was yet to be briefed on the matter and promised to relate with the DPO in charge of the local government for proper briefing.
However, she expressed the readiness of the state police command to ensure that peace and harmony reign in all parts of the state, stressing that the police would not condone any act of violence under any guise.