End in sight to the Okegun-Odofin crisis

Oluwatosin Omoniyi

An end may now be in sight to the crisis that has engulfed Okegun-Odofin in Ibeju-Lekki Local Government Area of Lagos State for almost three years now.
That is following the conclusion of sittings by a three-man committee set up by the Lagos State House of Assembly on the matter.
The Lagos State House of Assembly had mid this year mandated its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, Public Petitions and LASIEC, led by Hon. Funmi Tejuosho to look into the crisis that has arisen in the community, following the purported creation of Okegu-Ladeseso by the Onibeju of Ibeju Lekki, Oba Olusegun Salami, allegedly in connivance with the Lagos State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Alhaji Musulumi Folami. The creation of Okegun Ladeseso also led to the installation of one Mufutau Olamiji as the village head or Baale of the new community.
The move upset the sitting Baale, Ismaila Ogunkoya, who has been on the seat since April 1, 2008.
About five years ago, Oba Salami allegedly imposed one Olamiji, his former personal assistant, PA, overnight as the Baale of Okegun Odofin Ladeseso.
Okegun Ladeseso and Okeogun Odofin are just about 500 metres apart. But while Ogunkoya is willing at every time to brandish the gazette of his own community by the Lagos State government, Olamiji does not seem to have any. In fact, at the sitting of the Committee, he had told the stunned members that he did not have his gazette, as he insisted that he was coming from Ibadan, when he was invited for the sitting.
While the Okegun-Ladeseso is by the waterfront where serious and massive dredging is ongoing, Okegun Odofin, the parent community is by entrance of the community.
Ever since then and till now, there has been nothing like peace between the communities located closely.
According to New Telegraph findings, the bubble burst when Chief Ogunkoya( Baale Okegun Odofin) heard that the Oba who installed him as Baale is also planning to topple him by making Baale of Ladeseso, the Oba of the entire Okegun Odofin and Ladeseso, meaning that he would be put under the Oba or ousted.
According to sources around him, Ogunkoya has put in so much effort into the community, uplifted the community, equipped the community primary school with books and other facilities befitting of a school, installed boreholes and ensured electricity for the community.
By the estimation of the elder brother of Baale of Okegun Odofin, Chief Shamsudeen Ogunkoya, Chief Ismaila should be the rightful person to be prepared for the Oba of the community.
“My brother, who is the Baale of this community has a cordial relationship with the Oba and has contributed immensely to the wellbeing of this community. I am surprised that the Oba could plot with certain people to install and force another person against my brother. To the best of my knowledge, if the plot is not checked immediately, the consequences may be disastrous,” he said.
But in a chat with New Telegraph, Oba Salami described the Ogunkoya family as pack of rascals, who wanted to reap where they did not sow. He said that he installed and crowned both Ogunkoya and Olamiji but in separate zones.
He explained that both of them wrote applications for an upgrade of their positions, meaning from Baale to Oba. “Again, they both have the right to upgrade to Oba and they have paid the necessary dues. It is also possible for both of them to become Oba in their respective zones. One thing remains certain, I am their father,” he said.
Oba Salami admitted that Olamiji was his PA but also his first cousin. He added that he appointed both: “My kingdom started way far from Abijo, before Ajah till a little far beyond Akodo. My kingdom is almost one quarter of Lagos State, about the biggest,” he said.
Oba Salami revealed that the tussle among them all is on land issue. He alleged that the Ogunkoyas want to take total control of the lands in Ibeju-Lekki and its environ.
“There is actually no problem with us all. They are the ones who want to Lord themselves over the people,” he said. Where they are both Baales, the traditional explained that the Okegun is into four parts, which they are just occupying only two parts. The Okegun is just a compound name, according to the traditional ruler.
Going by history, Oba Salami explained that they Aladeso migrated from Benin, Ife land to the Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos where they met an existing Oba.
Olamiji rather claimed that it was the Ogunkoyas that were fomenting trouble between the two communities. He said they framed him up, got him arrested and took him to Federal SARS where he was kept underground for several days.
He accused the Ogunkoyas and especially the Baale Okegun Odofin of rather being interested in the waterfront that is some minutes away from the Free Trade Zone.
Regarding the issue of how his paper was first approved by the Lagos State government, he said, “It is the issue of nepotism. It is who you know in government. I did nothing to stop his paper but I actually used whom I know to push forward my paper.”
When he appeared before the House Committee, Folami maintained that he approved the papers of Olamiji following all due process. But his explanations did not go down well with the committee, who insisted that due process did not really mean doing what is right. Folami had argued that Olamiji’s papers passed through all the required levels before getting to his table.
But at the end of the sitting, the committee recommended that the baaleship of Olamiji be rescinded in order for peace to be restored in the community.
The committee also recommended that the creation of Okegun-Ladedseso within the Okegun-Odofin community was an illegal exercise.
In a document obtained by New Telegraph on the outcome of the public sittings on the issue by the Tejuosho-led Committee, it was gathered that the three-member team met with all the parties and stakeholders on the issue before arriving at its decision.
It would be recalled that in June, hundreds of residents of Okegun Odofin in Ibeju Lekki area of Lagos State had stormed the State House of Assembly to stage a peaceful protest over the baale stool of Okegun Odofin.
They protested the creation of Okegun Ladeseso within the community allegedly by, Oba Salami and Folami.
A petition from the Aladeseso ruling house of Ibeju Lekki had urged the Assembly to call to order Olamiji, who was said to have proclaimed himself as the Baale of Okegun-Ladeseso to order. It was called on the House for urgent intervention.
The petition further said that there is never a place known as Okegun-Ladeseso which Olamiji claims to be Baale in the entire stretch of Ibeju Lekki, alleging that Olamiji has the backing of the Onibeju of Ibeju-Lekki, Oba Olusegun Salami.
Consequent to the petition, the Committee had three different meetings with the parties on the issue, including, officials of the Ministry of Local Government and Community affairs, the respondents-Onibeju of Ibeju, Oba Olusegun Salami, Alhaji Raufu Otakunmaya and Prince Bayo Arase. Other invited parties were the petitioners which include, Prince Alade Ogunlana, Chief Lateef Folami Jinadu, Mr. Lateef Kamoru, the Baale of Okegun-Odofin, Chief Ismaila Ogunkoya, Olamiji, among others.
According to the committee, its findings after conducting a fair hearing to all parties include a pronounced complicity of the Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs in the whole episode.
“The committee was able to establish a strong connivance between the top officials of the Ministry and the respondents to subvert the system by clandestinely working to give Mufutau Olamiji leverage over Baale Ismaila Ogunkoya.
“That used to be a cordial and harmonious relationship between the petitioners and respondents in Okegun-Odofin community at Ibeju which is being gradually eroded away by conflicting personal interests over various land and transactions going on in that community.”
Making its recommendation to the leadership of the Assembly under Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, the committee spelt out four recommendations that could restore peace to the community.
“That the Committee found absurd and unacceptable the motive behind the creation or carving out of the newly created Okegun-Ladeseso out of Okegun-Odofin, mainly to checkmate the influence of Baale Ismaila Ogunkoya. Hence, the Committee recommends that the baaleship of Mufutau Olamiji be rescinded in order to bring a lasting peace to that community.
“Accordingly, Baale Ismaila Ogunkoya remains the only Baale of Okegun-Odofin, which includes the purported newly created Okegun-Ladeseso, thus, such new creation should be taken as null and void.”
The Committee also recommended that all unlawful and reckless land transactions at Okeogun-Idofin by Oba Salami and Mufutau Olamiji should henceforth stop.
“The Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs should take appropriate action by revoking the gazette given to Mufutau Olamiji, who was maliciously installed after the coronation of Baale Ismaila Ogunkoya by Oba Salami himself.”
Although the Lagos Assembly is yet to debate the report, there is high hope that peace would soon return to the community once the House ratifies the recommendations of the committee.

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