By Ngozi Uwujare
Palpable tension currently holds sway all over Alabata Community in Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo State. Two men are at daggers’ drawn over the community’s traditional leadership.
Rev Olakanmi Olaniyan, the Baale of the town, has raised the alarm that his life is in danger. He has accused another man, Julius Oladokun Itanola of trying to take over his seat as Baale, using thugs and some law enforcement agents. He alleged that the said Itanola is also after his life and those of his two grown up children.
But Itanola denied the allegations, even as he insisted he, not Olaniyan, is the authentic Baale of Alabata,
Chief Olaniyan, who spoke with Saturday Sun at Alabata, said his life is in danger as a usurper to his throne, one Julius Oladokun Itanola has been using the police, the Amotekun Corps and the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) to threaten his life.
He said he had since abandoned the palace and had been staying in hiding following a series of attempts made on his life but which God made him to survive.
He said for almost two years now, Julius Oladokun Itanola has been causing him and his family considerable headache. He alleged that Itanola’s family is not in the Baale lineage in the community. He said Itanola is a foreigner whose grandfather came to settle in the village.
He maintained that if not for the Grace of God he would have been dead by now, noting that members of the Itanola family have made several efforts to terminate his life and those of his children. He stated that the two children no longer stay in the town, preferring to live in the bush for fear of another attack, having slimly survived recent attacks on their lives.
He said he too has left the palace and that he only came around briefly to talk to the reporter before he returns to his hideout.
He said he has also petitioned the police top hierarchy through his attorneys, F.O. Samuel & Co following an early morning invasion of his palace by the police who came from Lagos on April 1, 2021.
“The police forcefully entered my room in the palace around1.00am, fully armed and they took me to Lagos where I was detained for days before my lawyer was able to locate me and got me bailed.
“They claimed they were sent to pick me up by usurper to the throne, from Itanola family. But I was properly and legally installed as the Baale of Alabata by the Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogunguniso on July 10 , 2017,” he said.
Olaniyan claimed that the Bamgbola family, where he comes from, has remained the only ruling house in the village till date. He admitted that the Itanola family had in the past tried to lay claim to the Baale stool but noted that the family was rebuffed both by the Olubadan and the judiciary.
Said he: “The Itanola family made an attempt to lay claim to the Baale of Alabata stool during the reign of Baale Samuel Olaniyan in 1956, but the court dismissed their claim and ruled that they don’t have a right to the baaleship, being non –indigenes of Alabata but mere residents.
“The Itanola family also raised the issue during the reign of my predecessor, Baale Kehinde Alabi, but both the then Olubadan, Oba Asanike and the court, ruled against them.”
He said it was during his reign that Julius Oladokun Itanola started parading himself as the Baale of Alabata. He said he has called the attention of the current Olubadan to the false claim to the stool and that the Olubadan has warned him to desist from parading himself as Baale of Alabata.
Baale Olaniyan 11 said to his surprise, Julius Oladokun Itanola has hired one Akinowo, who he described as a notorious land grabber in Ibadan, to terminate his life and those of his two grown up children. He said Akinowo has been using the police, OPC and Amotekun to threaten his life and that of his children.
He therefore appealed to the Governor of Oyo State, Mr Seyi Makinde, Acting Inspector General of Police Police, Usman Alkali Baba and Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji to come to his aid and that of his children and save them from imminent death.
Also speaking with Saturday Sun, the lawyer to the Baale, F.O. Samuel. said he had petitioned the IGP office in Abuja shortly after his client, Baale Olaniyan was whisked away to Lagos by men of the IGP Intelligence Response Team (IRT) earlier in the month.
The petition, a copy of which was made available to Saturday Sun, was addressed to The Head, Complaint Response Unit, The Nigeria Police Force Headquarters, Abuja. Dated April 13, 2021, it was entitled: ‘Report of Gross Professional Misconduct Against ASP Joel Ihogwe and his team cum Petition Against Unlawful Arrest and Detention over Civil Matter.’ The lawyer claimed that his client, Baale Olaniyan 11 was illegally detained by the police .
He said on April 1 2021, the residence of the Baale of Alabata, Revd. Olakanmi Olaniyan was invaded at 1.00am by hitherto unknown men who were fully armed and forcefully gained entrance into the Baale’s sleeping quarters, bundled him out of bed into an unknown vehicle, leaving only traces and trails of destruction.
He said he reported the matter at Dugbe Police Station in Ibadan, having the fear that the Baale was kidnapped, but said he was promptly informed that he had been arrested by men of the Intelligence Respond Squad, (IRT) from the Ikeja Annex Office, Lagos State led by one ASP Joel Ihogwe.
In the petition, he accused the police of dabbling into a civil matter and urged the police authorities to warn Ihogwe and his team to desist from such illegal duties.
Some residents of Alabata, who spoke with Saturday Sun, said the problem has made them to steer clear of the palace, noting that they no longer take civil matters to the Baale for adjudication. They therefore called on the state government to quickly intervene in the matter.
But the accused man, Julius Oladokun Itanola totally denied all the allegations, describing them as a tissue of lies.
In an interview with Saturday Sun, he denied that he is a usurper to the Baale’s stool in Alabata, claiming that he remains the authentic Baale of the community, having been installed by the immediate past governor, the late Isiaka Ajimobi.
“I was given the Certificate of Recognition as Baale in 2017 by the then Governor of Oyo State, Late Senator Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi,” he asserted.
On the alleged threat to Baale Olaniyan’s life, Itanola said: “I have not attacked, neither have I any plan to attack Olaniyan. What happened was that he brought thugs to my house to attack me and I reported the matter to the police.
“What he referred to as an invasion of his house was just his arrest by the police for attacking me with thugs.”
Also speaking, Akinowo, the man alleged by Rev Olaniyan to have been hired by Itanola to kill Olaniyan and his family, vehemently denied the allegation.
He said contrary to Olaniyan’s claim, he is not a land grabber but one who genuinely purchased land in Alabata.
His words: “I am not a land grabber. I bought land in Alabata and when workers were working on the land, Rev Olaniyan sent thugs who beat them mercilessly and I reported the case to the police. The police thereafter, in response to my report, went in to arrest Olaniyan. I am a man of peace. It is Olaniyan who doesn’t want the issue to be resolved amicably.”
Also speaking with Saturday Sun, the Personal Assistant/ Director of Media to the Olubadan, Mr Adeola Oloko, confirmed that Revd Olaniyan was installed by the Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso as Baale of Alabata in 2017.
While describing Olaniyan as the authentic Baale, the spokesman of Olubadan said the governor lacks the power to appoint anybody as Baale, insisting that it is the sole prerogative of the Olubadan to do such in Ibadan land.