Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Scores of market leaders, traditional chiefs, youths and members of Sango-Otta community in Ogun State, on Wednesday protested against what they termed “illegal suspension and attempted removal” of the Babaloja of the popular Sango-Otta market, Shakiru Olasege by the Olota of Ota, Oba Abdul-Kabir Obalanlege.
The protesters who carried placards with various inscriptions and walked through the main market and adjoining streets, chanted anti-Olota songs and declared that the monarch has no authority over the market but the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo.
The Olota, had via a letter dated July 25 suspended the Babaloja over alleged “flagrant disrespect to our culture in Aworiland and Yorubaland” and appointed one Wale Akilo, the Baale of Sango-Otta, to oversee all activities relating to the office of the market leader.
But the protesters moved from stall to stall in the market, affirming that Olasege remained the Babaloja and told traders in the market to discountenance any information or directive to the contrary.
The embattled Babaloja, while speaking with reporters after the procession, declared that he was still the authentic Babaloja, stressing that he had already notified security authorities of moves to cause a breach of peace in the market.
He said: “We learnt some people came on Monday from Ota, that is another town from Sango, and introduced another Babaloja to this market. This is wrong. The person they introduced is illegal. We want the government to look into our affairs. They should not let the matter go overboard,” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, the market’s Youth Leader, Ali Ismail, declared that they were ready to resist any form of imposition in the market leadership.
“We are appealing to the state and local governments to intervene so that Sango can be peaceful. We have our own Babaloja in Sango, we don’t want crisis,” Ismail stated.
But reacting, the Olota described those protesting over the spuspension of the Babaloja as “parasites” who were only collecting money illegally from traders at the market.
According to the monarch, Olasege failed to honour his invitation three times following allegation of harassment levelled against him by some traders, hence his suspension till further notice.
“The Babaloja is not selling anything in the market, he is just a parasite, collecting money illegally from the market women and men. And I suspended him because there was a report of harassment made to the palace.
“I invited him three times, he failed to turn up, claiming his allegiance is to the Alake and then, Adebayo Oluwagbohun, that is the man parading himself illegally as Onisango and we don’t have Onisango in Aworiland. This Babaloja was installed by Olota and Olota has the right to suspend him pending when we investigate what happened.
“The Babaloja and his cronies must appear in the palace; I want to hear their own side of the story. Failure to do that, necessary disciplinary action will be taken against them.”
Meanwhile, the Area Commander of Nigeria Police, Ota, Daily Sun learnt, has deployed policemen to forestall a breakdown of law and order in the market and the town in general.