Osun monarch, prominent chief strip each other naked
By YINKA OLUDAYISI FABOWALE
The video clip went viral on the social media last week. It had all the trappings of an epic Yoruba movie. It showed a horsetail-whisking royal personage amid a crowd of townsfolk drumming, singing hailing and chanting slogans.
But, the cause of the throng’s gathering was definitely not for any celebration, judging by its combative posturing and the apparently provocative content of the song. It was for war! Reminiscent of the legendary Aare Latosa- led invasion of Iyalode Ibadan, Efunsetan Aniwura’s house to put an end to the wicked reign of the female chief, notorious for her iron-fist, in Ishola Ogunsola’s (Isho Pepper) historical film of the same title, the crowd hurled abuses and curses in the frontage of a house supposedly belonging to the target of its diatribe. The derisive song went: “Kole boode, (2ce), Alakori t’ilekun mori, kole boode” (Behold, the heady fool dares not venture out).
Except that this was no make- belief at all! It was a public protest allegedly staged against the monarch’s estranged godfather, Chief Abiola Ogundokun, a prominent politician and an arch “enemy of the king” of Iwoland, the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi, Ilufemiloye Telu I. And at the head of the procession, which included a retinue of his chiefs and courtiers, with some security agents in the background, was Oba Akanbi himself, who is also the President of Iwo Traditional Council and Deputy Chairman of the Osun State Council of Obas and Chiefs.
The public demonstration seemed the climax of a long running battle between the monarch and the 82-year-old Ogundokun, a prominent Iwo indigene and erstwhile father-figure and ally of the youthful crown.
Although Ogundokun said he learnt of the move to make the young prince hitherto based in North America only three days to his coronation, he claimed that he nevertheless supported the new king both morally and financially, as well as refurbishing and furnishing his palace.
The duo became close friends, more so, as they both shared same passion as socialites, such that the king promoted Ogundokun from the honorary chieftaincy of Otun Balogun of Iwoland to Oba Nla, a newly created title and the highest in the land.
But, the romance was not to last. Early this year, signs emerged that all was not well between the erstwhile chums, as they disparaged each other in some media outbursts.
Saturday Sun learnt that Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola, and some stakeholders tried unsuccessfully to wade in and settle the rift. Rather, the chasm only widened the more.
The escalation of the crisis and incessant vitriol spewed from both camps have raised questions as to what actually happened to break their bond.
Is it the case of another bourgeoning Basorun Gaa phenomenon prompting a counter move by a youthful, albeit smart sovereign to save himself and his throne before falling prey to a wily old bully, who first lures his victim with much guile only to devour, as Oba Akanbi hinted in an interview with Saturday Sun?
Or, is Ogundokun’s resolve to draw sword against the king to, as he said, save the historical town from the embarrassment of an infantile and corrupt ruler?
The Oba says he is on warpath with his former chief (He corrects the reporter for addressing Ogundokun as Chief, insisting he was simply a Mr., as he had derobed him), for his sins against not only Iwo, but the Yoruba race. He accused the octogenarian publisher of Conscience International Magazine of treachery and subversion of the interest of the Yoruba people, by blackmailing and betraying many of the race’s leading lights including Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and late Chief MKO Abiola, whose June 12, 1993 presidential election victory was annulled by the military junta of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida. The monarch alleged Ogundokun was instrumental to the plot for voiding the poll result.
He denied charges of invading Ogundokun’s house and inciting the public against him, alleging that the controversial video clip spreading online was doctored to serve the motive of its sponsors. According to him, the procession depicted in it was actually a celebration of the installation of a new chief who replaced Ogundokun as Otun Balogun.
Saturday Sun serves you insights into the source and colour of the big fight from the horses’ mouths. First, Chief Ogundokun and then Oba Akanbi. EXCERPTS:
A disturbing video went viral on social media at the weekend, showing the Oluwo of Iwo purportedly leading a demonstration against you. You were like a father -figure and friend of his before you parted ways. How come that things degenerated to this level?
By their fruits you shall know them. Wherever you are in life, your behaviour tells. With that the public can judge you. Oluwo is well known to the society. When you see a gentleman, his behaviour, his utterances, his discipline, his etiquette will tell you who he is. I don’t know what I’ve done to this boy. The governor, Aregbe, told me about him and asked me to father him. I’ve never seen, or heard of him before his ascension.
I owe Aregbe some political debts. I am responsible for his failure at the first poll as governor of Osun. We’re not in the same party, but we’re very closely respectful of each other. And I owe him that relationship which I, him and Tokunbo Afikuyomi have. Though I advised him not to contest against (Olagunsoye) Oyinlola then, people disallowed him from listening to me. So, I promised that I would do my best for him (when he became governor). So, when he now called me, (he gives me a lot of respect), he told me: ‘Baba, I’m going to give you a king’… in fulfillment of my promise, I gave my word. He did not mention the name (of the person). The day they brought him to Iwo to be crowned, I was there, I helped to protect him. That’s the beginning.
He got to Oto compound, where he was supposed to live three months (as part of the coronation rites). I started making money available to him, because you could see that he was a very poor man. When you see the quality of his dresses, you will know that he is a very poor young man. But he talks sweet. He didn’t talk— until he ran into trouble. When he came out of the secluded confinement, which was supposed to be for three months, he failed to keep to the rules. He came out less than 40 days. I was the financier. He wanted a palace similar to the standard of the Queen of England’s. I did that for every Oba that comes to Iwo. I provided the furniture and the good things for the palace. So, I went and provided furniture costing about N5 million, bought air conditioners and everything; made him proud; all the curtains. He immediately ordered the bed he wanted to sleep on. The man (contractor) said I should pay N250, 000. But when I interviewed him, I pegged it to N170, 000 and paid the amount. He became so happy, everywhere he went he would tell people that there’s nobody like Chief Ogundokun. I fed him, bought him clothes. His clothes man, Imede, I paid him lots of money. Anyway, I kept on doing it to satisfy him.
He wanted the high life side. He knows how to live high life. So, I took him out to all parties, introduced him to people.
But, as a result of his betrayal of those who helped him become king, he ran into problem. He rose up to fight another traditional ruler- Oluwo-oke … when he came back, he did not tell us that he was the one who provoked the Oluwo-oke, to the extent that they nearly exchanged blows. And when he came to Iwo, he now ordered people to go destroy all the property of Oluwo-oke situated in Iwo township. The Oluwo-oke is also a brother to the Oluwo of Iwo; they are of the same parents. So, he came and incited the community against the man. He ordered that they should go and destroy all the shops in Iwo, which was carried out, one person was charged to court.
We stepped into the crisis. Oluwu-oke now went to court. Oluwo was arraigned on several criminal charges before a magistrate. He was so disrespectful to the court, he would abuse the judge and say all sorts of things. The thing was really tensed, so a bench warrant was issued against him two times. Then, it fell on me that I had to save him when I saw he was going to jail, because he confided in me concerning all the allegations made against him by Oluwo-oke that some were true.
What were these criminal charges?
So many, including yahoo-yahoo, malicious destruction; he is very good at propagating falsehood. If you don’t know him and he tells you something… he is very good at propaganda technology, honestly. Most of us believed him, until the court proceedings started shedding light on the issues, before we realized that he was wrong.
When I saw him going to jail, after two bench warrants were issued against him, I had to jump and run to Obasanjo, the governor and everybody for their intervention. That was how God saved him, or else by now he should be in jail. I financed him, I bought the dresses he wears, gave him money. I have evidence. I gave him mostly cash, but I also have some little-little (bank) transfers made to his account. When his wife delivered in Canada, the wife he snatched from somebody here, I was the first person to send $2,000 to the wife, to save them from financial inconveniences.
But, one thing is that he quarrels with everybody, that is why his palace was deserted. No Iwo person comes there.
People don’t go to the palace…?
(cuts in) Because he insults everybody. He calls himself god, that God has given him power. He is so power- drunk. And I talked to him. I did everything, promoted him, took him everywhere, to meet the former CJ, the former President of the Court of Appeal, former Justice of the International Court in the Hague- (Prince Bola) Ajibola, all of them, Baba Obasanjo, Chief Alani Bankole, everybody. He loved my life as a socialite. I was so happy at that.
As the financier and the man charged with the responsibility of guiding him, I saw one bad thing happening. Many people would fight for one particular chieftaincy title. I didn’t like the situation that, you know that it’s only one man who would ultimately get it, then you take money from several of the contestants. It’s not good. So he picked offence at that.
Then when we were settling the case in court with Oluwo-oke, we had an agreement that he was to sign a document to leave the Oba alone. He refused to do that up till now, after accepting to sign that document for the other one to withdraw the case from court.
Were those your only grievances against him?
So what accounted for this much bitterness between the two of you?
I’ve said it. Then, one of his staff who was his closest aide in the palace, We didn’t know of any relationship between them other than that he was a staff to him in the palace. Whenever I gave him money, like half a million, he would take the money, give it to the boy to go and keep inside. They used to drink together and do everything together. The boy is called Agbaje.
Then, one day he accused the boy of stealing just $100 and drove the boy away. The boy said: “It’s not about $100 o, but because you were trying to get me to sleep with you. You are a man, I’m a man”. It’s in the news and the papers. I have the papers and I’ll give them to you. The boy said: “That’s why you wanted to blackmail me, because I refused.” So, the thing came out. There was a day he went with a gun, he wanted to kill the boy, but God saved the boy, because the people in the whole area gathered. So, they wounded the boy, carried him to the police station. He went to the boy’s house by 1am and took thugs. At any rate, the thing got exposed. And he believed that I was the one responsible, because we have started quarrelling. I asked him, “what of when I saved you?” He decided that he wanted to punish me the Ijesha way.
When Ogedengbe (An Ijesha war general) won the war for Ijesha, he came back and the king, Owa, gave him all the powers of the king that he went back to withdraw from him. Ogedengbe had refused to accept it, but he later came back with the title of Obanla, which made Ogedengbe superior to the Oba.
So, he said he wanted to confer on me a similar title and withdraw my Otun Balogun chieftaincy. He now wrote a letter and changed my title. Having been a chief in the town, there should be no ceremony twice. So, he withdrew the title. Then he wanted me to be on the Board of Trustees of Iwo. He wrote me a letter and I asked how I could be a member of the board of trustees when there was a constitution… (relating to the youths). So, by raising the issue of constitution he didn’t like it.
He wanted a situation that he would run an affair, of no law, no rule. For raising it, I became a subject of his attack. But again we were about to hold a meeting, he ordered the meeting to be moved from the city hall to his palace, I was there. He’s not a member of the board, yet, he started abusing me and insulted me, he cursed me very bitterly in the presence of other colleagues. He said I advised him against a certain decision, that is why he cursed me. I was surprised, everybody was surprised. That’s the beginning of it.
The Ogundokun name looms large not just in Yorubaland, but across the nation. You have also been around for generations of Iwo people. Could it be that the young monarch feared that you probably want to lord it over him, given your influence?
No. I have never interfered with his reign or decisions, except that advice that I gave to him; because everybody knows and everybody runs away from him because of that. I don’t want to tell you what he has done to many elders. He insults them, insults their fathers, claims to be superior to everybody, but empty and raw.
You know, he phoned Baba Obasanjo saying that I’d deserted him. Obasanjo asked him: ‘why should you allow him desert you? I told you that man is honest for his support. Why should you allow him to desert you?’ Then Obasanjo now told him: ‘Okay, he was the one that brought you to me. I want to invite both of you to Abeokuta so I can…’ He said: ‘No, I know how to deal with him’. Baba said: ‘Ok, let me come to you’, he said, no. This matter went on. He kept calling people damaging me saying all sorts of things against me.
I complained to the governor, Aregbe who introduced him to me. Aregbe invited the two of us and said, ‘look I have security reports, and I know who is at fault and who’s not at fault. But Oluwo, this is the father who stood by you when everybody deserted you, it is not fair’.
The leadership of the traditional rulers had tried to intervene, but he rubbished and betrayed them. The leaders of the community also made effort. Baba Obasanjo made effort. The governor was rubbished when he even stood up in front of the governor to box me.
Were you in the house when the public procession he led came?
I was in my house o! But, do you want me to go out and fight him? I’ve contributed to the development of Iwo. I’ve invested a lot. If I start any trouble, that investment is wasted. He has never, or any of his family been privileged to be anything in Iwo.
Given your status in the community, it’s strange that you said you were only informed of his installation few days to the event. Could you have been opposed to his emergence?
I was actively involved with my presence on the day of his installation. I’d never met him, that was the first day I met him. I never opposed him; because the governor didn’t even tell me who was to be made king. He only called me to say that he was going to give us a king.
Now, he’s declared he’d strip you of all chieftaincy titles in Iwoland. What is your reaction to that?
He has not stripped me; it is same sweet talk. Because to strip a man of his title that he has held for 40 something years, he must have done something wrong. You must have a good reason, you must have called him, queried him, he answered the query before you can take a disciplinary action. But, he has not done any of these, he has not written me a letter, because I was officially appointed by a strong, good, Christian Oba, S. O Abimbola in 1977, the first educated Oba we had in Iwo.
You alleged he’s a fraudster. Have you any proof?
It is a case against him by his brother Oba- the Oluwo-oke of Oke. It was in the court.
He’s declared you number one enemy of the Yoruba people. That you were instrumental to the annulment of M.K.O Abiola’s June 12 victory
That’s a mad, criminal, dishonest, malicious allegation. Abiola happened to be my good friend and we kept faith together till his last breath. How can I be enemy of Abiola, when Abiola took me to confidence to speak to Babangida before the election. And we got the consent of Babangida that he should go ahead to contest that he was not going to stop him from contesting. And he did contest. All the evil doers blocked his chances, we all know what… I supported Abacha’s administration because of the betrayal of many people to Abiola, because many people talked good about Abiola, when in the night they go back to seek employment with Abacha. That’s why I started my magazine and called it Conscience, instead of all the beautiful names that were brought. Most of the people who canvassed and called themselves pro-June 12 were enemies of Abiola. I published that several times in my magazine, Conscience International. So, how can he now say I’m an enemy of Abiola? Abacha never killed him. That we gave our support to Abacha helped us protect Abiola, and that is why you don’t see Abiola have any doubt about Abacha. I want to tell you that Abiola decided who would cook for him and he was protected. Why was he killed alongside Abacha? That is the question Nigerians want to ask. Why was he killed alongside Abacha? Posterity would judge.
You also claimed the Oluwo plotted to assassinate you?
Yes. Up till now, it’s going on and the police are investigating. It’s under police investigation. He’s recruited one of the thugs in Ibadan; who stupidly mentioned it to a senior friend of his. And now the cat is let out of the cage.
Now the crisis must have divided Iwo town?
(cuts-in) He doesn’t have any supporters. Those you see lurking round him are those he has threatened to unleash terror on, because everybody is surprised that someone wants to do something to Ogundokun, as powerful as he is. But he’s doing what he’s doing because I’m being restrained by the government from doing anything. The governor has pleaded with me. He has spoken to me and I love him. He wants me to sheath my sword, because one, the Ife crisis is still fresh in the memory, now Adeleke’s death is another blackmail. If I start what I believe, I can do better. It would simply plunge the state into chaos. So he pleaded with me and I had to reason as an elder statesman. Otherwise, he would have suffered for his acts.
Now the royal family disowned him. They backed out of his action, told him his action was illegal. There are four royal families; three are together, the one that he claims to come from- because people are already doubting his paternity to any royal family, is the one probably with him. What manner of a king?
Can there be an end to this row?
The court will decide.
What do you mean the court will decide?
I have already gone to court and going to more courts.
First of all, for his pronouncement that I’d been removed as chief, without giving me fair hearing, what offence have I committed? He has no power to remove me, because there must be a process to follow, which he has not followed. And two, when it is malicious, you can’t do anything, it is malicious.
It would appear that the Iwo elders, especially the religious leaders, are with him on this?
They are not with him.
There was a video of his meeting with and address to them in which the issue featured
Every first day of Ramadan period, the whole community gathers in front of the palace to do special prayers. If he now came out to join them and says something, it’s not like they were doing anything for him. I can call one or two of the religious leaders; he’s fighting some of them.
Iwo is a very important town in Yorubaland and this rift seems to have brought it to ridicule.
Yes. That’s why you see me silent. I have plenty of things to say, when we get to court, you will hear and hear. He’s published all over the world. So we’ll see what is going to be his end. He has even threatened to kill me, and he said it on tape. Yes I can give you the tape.