Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
Ekiti State governor Kayode Fayemi has issued queries to 16 most prominent traditional rulers in the state, a development that has caused panic among residents.
The apprehension was heightened because it came a few days after the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Lamido Sanusi II was deposed by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.
This has caused panic in town and made people feel that government allegedly wanted to deal with some monarchs.
The governor was said to have issued the queries for an alleged continued absence of the monarchs from state’s functions and the monthly council meeting since Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Oba Adebanji Alabi, became the Chairman of the Council of Traditional Rulers, a few months ago.
The query dated March 11, 2020, signed by the permanent secretary, Bureau of Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. A.O. Adeoye and addressed to the obas individually, a copy of which was sighted by journalists in Ado Ekiti on Thursday, said the obas must respond to the queries within 72 hours.
The query reads: “It had come to the attention of Mr. Governor that Your Royal Majesty has not been attending the monthly statutory meeting of the State Council of Traditional Rulers and State official functions since August 2019.
“Your conspicuous absence at the council meetings and state official functions, without any excuse or justification is considered inimical to the proper administration of the chieftaincy institution you represent.
“Therefore, Mr Governor has directed that Your Royal Majesty should forward your representation for this inaction through this office within 72 hours on the receipt of this letter,” the letter concluded.
Before taking up the gauntlet against the government and resorting to litigation, the obas contended that the Ekiti State chieftaincy law stipulates that the chairman of the council should be appointed among the Pelupelu/Alademerindinlogun obas, the category they said Alawe didn’t belong to.
The monarchs had since boycotted all state functions and the council meeting and had gone ahead to sue the state government over the action.
The monarchs, in the suit with registration number HAD/76/2019, filed before an Ado Ekiti High Court, are seeking nullification of the appointment, saying the governor’s action of picking someone outside the 16 obas as chairman was “a violation of the Ekiti State Chieftaincy Law.”
In an originating summon filed by Dr. B.A.M. Ajibade (SAN) on August 7, 2019, and deposed to by Ajero of Ijero, Oba Joseph Adewole, on behalf of other 15 obas, the monarchs are seeking an interlocutory injunction restraining Fayemi from swearing-in Alawe as the chairman of the council.
Respondents in the suit are: Governor Fayemi (1st), the Attorney General of Ekiti State, Wale Fapohunda (2nd) and Oba Alabi (3rd).
Reacting, the state governor through his Chief Press Secretary, Yinka Oyebode, said there was no query for any oba, adding that letters sent to 11 obas only asked them to state the reasons they hadn’t been attending meetings of the obas’ council.
The letter, signed by the CPS, reads in part: “The attention of the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi has been drawn to some misleading news reports being circulated in some online blogs alleging plans by the state government to dethrone some traditional rulers in the state.
The reports, which are products of the bloggers’ hastiness, grossly misrepresent the development.
“It thus becomes imperative to state the true position of things as follows: The Ekiti State Bureau of Chieftaincy Affairs is responsible for the coordination, management and welfare of the traditional council and its affairs.
“The bureau briefed the governor, on the prolonged absence of some members of the State’s Traditional Council meetings as well as traditional council meetings at the local government level. Mr Governor directed that the Bureau should write the affected traditional rulers to find out reasons for their absence.
“The Honourable Attorney General wrote to the bureau on Mr Governor’s directives. Consequently, the bureau (through a senior official) wrote to the affected traditional rulers seeking reasons for their prolonged absence at council meetings. The formal nature of the letter is what is being misconstrued to be a query.
“Contrary to insinuations, this is merely an administrative matter which is neither contentious nor confrontational. It is definitely not a ploy or plan to remove any oba from office. As public officers, our traditional rulers act as the direct link between government and their domains; they have expected duties and functions, and as an administrative head, Mr Governor should be aware of reasons why such duties are not being carried out.”