Five Monarchs in Lekki and the Ibeju Lekki axis of the state are currenly locked in a supremacy battle over who is supposed to be the head of their council. While the Onibeju, who currently acts as their chairman is holding unto the seat, four others are agitating for rotation, insisting that they are all first class monarchs. OLUWATOSIN OMONIYI reports
A major war is imminent in Lekki and Ibeju- Lekki, areas of Lagos State. This is following the rejection of authority of the Onibeju of Ibeju- Lekki, Oba Rafiu Bamidele Salami, a first class monarch over four other monarchs within the area. The four made up of Lekki, Onise, Orimedu and Elemoro are threatening a major showdown with the Onibeju of Lekki Kingdom.
They insist that the Onibeju should concentrate on his domain and not exceed his boundaries of influence. Last week Friday, a major bloodshed was averted during a meeting of the traditional rulers and their chiefs, who were about 50 in number with the Onibeju and his supporters.
Trouble started when the Onibeju marked his 10 years on the throne last year December. In the programme of the event, his organising committee addressed the other monarchs as ‘Royal Highnesses’, a title they argued is meant for addressing princes, while the programme addressed Onibeju as ‘Royal Majesty’, signifying that he is superior to them.
The organising committee also put in the programme boundaries and territories belonging to the other monarchs to be under the Onibeju. The other four did not take lightly to this form of address and claim of influence of authority; hence, they revolted that the position of the chairman of the Obas which the Onibeju has occupying for sometime should be rotated.
They believed that his position as the chairman is what is giving him (Onibeju) false sense of superiority over them.
The Onise of Ise land, Oba Ganiyu Adegbesan, in a phone chat with New Telegraph blurted out that he is not an upgraded Oba but a first class one. “I don’t have any senior Oba. It is not proper for anyone to address an Oba as His Royal Highness. I am a first class Oba. I have been on the throne for past 18 years.
It is total rubbish for anyone to claim superiority over me. I won’t accept that,” he said. Onise concluded that Onibeju, at the council meeting held last week, feigned ignorance of the content of the programme until the day of the celebration which was too late, ‘but I don’t believe that,” he said.
Oba Orimedu, Musat Atiku told New Telegraph that they would not allow the Onibeju to rule over them. According to him, the fact that the monarchs are just respecting the Onibeju did not make him superior to them. His influence is limited to the Onibeju seat, just like any other Oba and their jurisdictions.
“We cannot allow him to lord himself over us. Although, he is the chairman, and we just allowed him because of the respect we have for him. “All of us are first class Obas. I have been on the throne for almost 40 years. I started from Baale position and upgraded to first class Oba and he is just 10 years on the throne. As such, I cannot allow anyone override me,” he said.
At the council meeting, Oba Orimedu disclosed to New Telegraph that they argued and agitated for the rotation of the position of chairman for the tenure of two years. But he added that they will conclude that decision at the next meeting.
Oni Lekki of Lekki land, Oba Olumuyiwa Ogunbekun told New Telegraph that he is the certified royal majesty of Lekki land. Lekki according to him was dated back to 15th century and was a district headquarter. So, also was Ibeju-Lekki land.
There was never a time when Lekki was under Ibeju. They were two separate entity/Towns but for administrative contingency, they were merged up as Lekki and Ibeju-Lekki LGAs. The main issue, according to Oni Lekki was when the Onibeju printed in his programme that all neighbouring communities were under him(Onibeju). “How can that be?” He asked.
I have about 38 communities under me. So, Lekki is not community but a Town. So, at what point is he superior to me? He buttressed his point by pointing out that there were documents that supported that Oni Lekki and Oni Ibeju were far in terms of seniority. “In fact, Lekki exceeded Onibeju according to history. The records are there.
No reasonable person would agree with that statement that Onibeju is superior to me,” he stated. He added that he Oni Lekki has been an Oba more than 11 years and there are more developments in Lekki than in Ibeju. Oni Lekki further explained that Onibeju became the chairman of Obas when there was palace disagreement for 25 years. That time, they were not able to produce an Oba.
So, the Onibeju, who happened to the most senior at that time was asked to see to the supervisory role of which the present Onibeju took over when he ascended the throne. But the chairmanship position has never been an issue because it was in the history of the place that the position was being rotated between Ibeju-Lekki, Lekki, Epe and other Towns.
“My bone of contention is that his having stayed on that position for too long gave him that impression that he is senior to us all and that our Towns are under him.
Reason, I moved for the motion that the chairmanship position be rotated. Anyway, it is natural to be selfish. “I, Oni Lekki of Lekki will not subscribe to anything other than the rotation of that chairmanship position,” he vowed.
The Oni Lekki did not fail to mention that although the Onibeju appealed and sued for peace among them, the only way forward, he emphasised, is the rotation of that position because there have been lots of misgivings.
As such, there is the need for proper sanitization of the whole traditional institutions in Ibeju-Lekki. “As it is, I, Oni Lekki of Lekki land will not take any claim of superiority from anybody,” he concluded.
Oba Elemoro of Emoro land, Tajudeen Afolabi Elemoro spoke highly of the good nature of Onibeju and said that the Onibeju was not in the know of what was typed in the programme. “He is not a bad person and we are tight friends.”
According to Elemoro, the Onibeju also got to see the programme on the day of the event.
“Although, the offence is annoying, we will surely settle it soon,” he asserted. “The other angry Obas have their divisions especially from the moment they received staff of office. Even as second class Oba, you have your division. No Oba is superior to the other Oba but there must be respect for those who have been Oba before you but no superiority.”
Elemoro said he didn’t calculate his Obaship tenure from the time he collected his staff of office eight years apart from the long years he ascended the throne. He said but for him, the council meeting wouldn’t have held last week as the Obas were too hot in actions and words.
“Even all my family members and kingdoms wanted to get angry with the council meeting but I did not allow that because Onibeju and I are about the closest friends. But I calmed all nerves that we couldn’t afford to wash our dirty linen before the 50 chiefs seated that day.”
Still, Oba Elomoro wouldn’t stop at pointing the blame fingers at the organisers for putting such into the programme.
“As for me, I would have put forward what my throne has achieved within the community and Town during my reign as Oba and not about history.
The cause of disagreement is history, which is unnecessary. If you observe, wherever there is history, there can never be peace,” he explained.
However, Onibeju, while explaining to New Telegraph, acknowledged the other four Obas as first class. He blamed the conflicts on his organising committee.
He said he wasn’t privileged to see the programme before the anniversary celebration. “The Obas are indeed Royal Majesties. The organising committee made the mistake. Even the boundaries that are not under me were included as part of those under me. My boundary is from Abijan to Akodo,” he said.
Explaining further, Onibeju said the most affected with the programme was the Oni Lekki because his boundary is the largest.
Hence, Onibeju said it was only natural for the Oni Lekki would get angry. Onibeju, however, believed that the mistake provided opportunity for those who have one grudge or the other to air out their grievances against him. “It is only normal for them to express their feelings. That is how I see it,” he said. But Onibeju disagreed with the motion that the position of chairman be rotated.