Alaafin of Oyo in trouble

Alaafin of Oyo in trouble

By Our Correspondent          

The throne of the Alaafin of Oyo is an institution in Yorubaland. The occupant of the prestigious traditional institution is practically worshipped and adored by his subjects. The Alaafin is called many revered names such as Iku Baba Yeye (one who commands death or pronounces it), Alase (he who possesses authority), Ekeji Orisha (second-in-command to the gods), amongst others.  The Alaafin installs Obas (Kings) and these kings pay not only obeisance but also material gifts to the Oyo Palace to show and pledge their allegiance.

The Old Oyo Empire according to Wikipedia was the Yoruba Empire of what is today Western and North Central Nigeria. It was established in the 15th century and grew to become one of the largest West African states. It rose through the outstanding organisational and administrative skills of the Yoruba people, wealth gained from trade and its powerful cavalry. It became the most politically important state in the region from the mid-17th to the late 18th century,  not only holding sway over most of the other kingdoms in Yoruba land but also over nearby African states, notably the Fon Kingdom of Dahomey in the modern day Republic of Benin. The Yorubas are also in the Carribeans and Brazil.

The present Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, became the paramount ruler of Oyo in 1970 succeeding Alaafin Gbadegesin Ladigbolu II. He is well loved by his people and successive governments at states and federal levels have sought his stand on very important national issues mostly those that are culture-related. Oba Adeyemi is a repository of knowledge, highly cerebral, intelligent and is equally feared and respected in Yorubaland. This underscores the position of His Royal Majesty in Oyo Kingdom, Yorubaland, Nigeria and the world at large.

But despite the respect that he commands, an alleged murder case has stayed like a leech with the revered traditional ruler years after it was carried out. An Oyo High Chief, Amuda Olorunkosebi, who held the Asipa traditional title was assassinated on November 26, 1992 in Isale Oyo by akiller squad who were alleged to be sent by the Alaafin. The late Asipa was part of the Oyo Mesi and was reported to have boldly confronted Oba Adeyemi over some unpopular decisions. The Oyo Mesi is a strong institution in Oyo Kingdom and it constitutes the electoral council and possesses legislative powers to check the excesses of the Alaafin. The Oyo Mesi (or the chief-in-council) are traditional king-makers and consult the gods to appoint an Alaafin. Apart from the Ashipa, other Oyo Mesi members are the Bashorun (who acts as the prime minister), the Agbaakin, Samu, Alapini, Laguna and Akiniku.

Olorunkosebi, a frank and daring chief was said not to be in the good books of the Alaafin and the Oba, who understands his (Alaafin) status in Yoruba took Olorunkosebi’s confrontational attitude as an affront to the throne and his personality, thus began what started as irreconcilable differences between the duo. Assassination of the Asipa happened during the aborted Third Republic in the regime of the former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida when the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP, and the National Republican Convention, NRC, held sway. While the SDP ruled Oyo State, Oyo people especially the Isale Oyo people where the late Asipa hailed from belonged to the NRC. The Alaafin as the father of all is perceived to be neutral when it comes to politics, but reports had it that the result of the differences between the Oba and the late Asipa could be politically-related among other issues.

The irony is how a first-class traditional ruler like the Alaafin could be linked with the death of a subject he was supposed to protect. The late Asipa wassaid to have been lured to a farm by the assassins who overpowered him, strangled him, before pouring acid on him in order not to give him any chance of survival. Another report however said he was ambushed on his way to the farm by the assassins who attacked him at Ijawaya village along Oyo-Ogbomoso Road in a most gruesome manner, broke his neck, poured acid in his mouth and made sure the liquid went down his throat, confirmed him dead before they left the scene.

Family members of the deceased suspected foul play, protested his murder and thus began a case that is yet to be unraveled by the security agencies and the law court.

The alleged involvement of Alaafin was traced to the twosome of Biodun Faseyitan and Segun Oduneye who were said to be on the entourage of the traditional ruler to London, United Kingdom to purchase the vehicle which was brought to Nigeria through Alaafin’s company, Diekade Clearing and Forwarding Agency. It was this vehicle that was alleged used by the assassins for Olorunkosebi’s murder. Oba Adeyemi was alleged to have issued receipt to Biodun Faseyitan under the pretext that he had sold the car to Faseyitan whereas the car was with the monarch. The car, AljazirahNigeria learnt, is still in the premises of the Oyo State High Court in Ibadan as the court established that the car was used for the killing of Asipa.

AljazirahNigeria investigation revealed that the process that led to the murder of the Asipa was structured in such a way that nobody could have had any inkling that it allegedly came from the palace.

The journey to the elimination of Olorunkosebi was said to have commenced in October 1991 when the plan was perfected. The trio of Alaafin, Biodun Faseyitan and Segun Oduneye travelled to London and came back with the vehicle used to perpetrate the Asipa’s murder. For easy passage to the United Kingdom, Segun Oduneye had an international passport procured for him by Alaafin in the name of Kayode Adeyemi. A document obtained by AljazirahNigeria showed that the said ‘Kayode Adeyemi’ in his application for United Kingdom entry visa form gave the name Oba Adeyemi II Alaafin of Oyo (the father of the current Alaafin) as his father’s full name and Ayaba Seliat Adeyemi as his mother’s full name. He gave his date of birth as 16/8/55 with country of birth as Ijebu Ode, Nigeria which is a case of concealed identity. Also in the said form, ‘Kayode Adeyemi’ said he was working with Adelakun Ent (Nigeria) Limited, and he started working with the company from July 4, 1984. His wife’s name was given as Mrs Atinuke Adeyemi and he gave his address then as Adeyemi Compound, Oyo. He gave two weeks as his expected stay period in the UK and to arrive in the UK on 5/6/92.

AljazirahNigeria learnt that during investigation of the murder case in 1992, Faseyitan was arraigned but because the monarch was not charged along with him, Faseyitan was discharged. But Oduneye was not so lucky because investigation carried out in 1995 and 1996 by the police nailed him. During the search on his (Oduneye) house, the police discovered a ‘fake’ international passport with the name Kayode Adeyemi. He was subsequently queried, charged by the court and convicted for conspiracy.

During the trial of Oduneye, the police investigation was surprised that Alaafin was not charged in the case that he was allegedly involved in. Part of the statement presented by the police team and obtained by AljazirahNigeria reads: “I investigated the ownership of the vehicle in issue. The car was sold to one Biodun Faseyitan on the 17th November, 1992. Prior to 17th November 1992, the car was in the possession of the Alaafin of Oyo. The accused person did not deny that the particular vehicle was one of the ones they bought when they went to London with the Alaafin of Oyo. Our investigation report indicted the Alaafin of Oyo and we were surprised that he was not charged for this crime…He also disclosed that it was the Clearing Agency or company of the Alaafin of Oyo that cleared the vehicle in question at the port. Our investigation further revealed that the accused and one other person were seen in the vehicle in question on the day that the deceased was murdered. The complainant identified the suspect as one of those that accompanied the deceased to the place where he was killed.”

All attempts by the state counsel to tender the statement that nailed Alaafin before the court was ruled out by the court. The judge ruled that the court cannot take the statement from someone who is not before him as an accused. The court however convicted Oduneye for conspiracy but could not convict him for other charges because Alaafin was not charged. Oduneye subsequently spent seven years in prison for conspiracy.

But the death of Chief Amuda Olorunkosebi is not the only murder case where the Alaafin was fingered. In 2005, there was a reported murder case of one Dr Ogunniyi, a young and promising medical doctor whose death still remains a mystery, because of a disputed land. Ogunniyi AljazirahNigeria gathered had a girlfriend he intended to marry but the lady in question dumped him and got married to Alaafin. During their courtship, Ogunniyi was said to have bought a land for his girlfriend but when she got married to the monarch, he requested back for his land. It was in the process of trying to retrieve the land that Ogunniyi was killed by a group named Tobalase (the King is supreme) a private army allegedly owned by the Alaafin to attack perceived opponents. The Tobalase is headed by one Mojeed Agbaje with Bashiru Agbesinla as his right-hand man. The same Tobalase in 2009 was also alleged to be responsible for the murder of one Alhaji Rashidi Adebayo a.k.a Atingisi. A letter written and dated 8th July 2009 by one M.A. Amoni-Okwuonu who was the State Director of Security to the then Governor of Oyo State, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala said “the Tobalases as a pseudo- security outfit of the Alaafin, was founded originally to oust the Baale Ago-Oja, hence the location of their base contiguous to both Ashipa’s residence and the market in Isale-Oyo. Notwithstanding, the group has included in their activities harassment and intimidation of perceived enemies of the monarch within the three (3) LGAs in Oyo.”

The head of Tobalase, Mojeed Agbaje in 2014 got estranged with Alaafin because his mother wanted to know what her son was doing for the Alaafin. Agbaje left Oyo in November 2014 but was reported to have made confessions to a lawyer through an affidavit and video recording about his role and activities with the Tobalase. The copies of the recording and the affidavit were said to have been registered with the Oyo State High Court in Ibadan.

The case has refused to fly as every governor that has come and gone has the facts about the Asipa’s case but did not deem it fit to confront the Alaafin either out of fear or respect for the monarch. AljazirahNigeria gathered that Alaafin’s father, Oba Adeyemi II, was deposed by late Chief Obafemi Awolowo over similar issue that the present Alaafin is toeing.

The Isale Oyo people under the aegis of Isale Oyo Patriotic Forum had written different letters to the authorities to unravel and bring to justice those involved in the murder of Olorunkosebi. A letter dated 19th November 1997 and titled; “Undue Cover-Up Of Oba Lamidi Adeyemi On His Criminal Role Leading To The Assassination Of The Late Asipa Of Oyo, High Chief Amuda Olorunkosebi” addressed to the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha was printed in the Nigerian Tribune of Thursday November 27 1997. The forum also in the Nigerian Tribune of Friday December 30, 2011 addressed a letter to the office of the Inspector General of Police in an open letter while also copying the President and Commander-in-Chief, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, the Attorney General of the Federation and the Attorney General of Oyo State. The letter was titled; “The Rule of law as Machinery of Justice: The Adverse Consequences of its Neglect Culminating in the Incessant, Aided and Abetted Assassinations in Oyo Town”.

Other allegations like bomb planting, gun running, public disturbance, abetting and aiding criminals in the palace have also been placed at the monarch’s doorstep.

In February 2016, the International Criminal Court, ICC, in Hague began investigation into the alleged criminal activities filed against the Alaafin by some concerned indigenes of Oyo town.

This was sequel to a petition filed by Jacob Oluokun and Suleiman Ishola on behalf of some concerned indigenes of Oyo town to the ICC, asking it to investigate all the alleged human rights violations of the monarch.

The Court in a response to the petition through a letter with reference number OTP-CR-317/15, confirmed the receipt of the petition.

The ICC letter which was signed by M.P. Dillon, Head of the Information and Evidence Unit, Office of the Prosecutor, stated that “On behalf of the Prosecutor, I thank you for your communication received on 09/09/2015, as well as any subsequent related information.

“The Office is analysing the situation identified in your communication, with the assistance of other related communications and other available information.

“Under Article 53 of the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor must consider whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court have been committed, the gravity of the crimes, whether national systems are investigating and prosecuting the relevant crimes, and the interests of justice.

“Analysis will be carried out as expeditiously as possible, but please be aware that meaningful analysis of these factors can take some time.

“As soon as a decision is taken on whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation, we will advise you promptly and we will provide reasons for the decision.

“We thank you for your interest in the ICC. If you would like to learn more about the ICC, please consult our website at www.icc-cpi.int.

“If you would like to learn more about how the Office carries out analysis of information, please see our policy paper and the annex to that paper, on the Office webpage at the website above’’, the statement added.

The petition entitled: “Unprecedented criminality, flagrant human rights violations, bomb planting, gun running and unresolved assassinations in Oyo town, Oyo state’’ was sent to ICC since Sept. 9, 2015.

They claimed in the petition that “We write as concerned indigenes and residents of the ancient Oyo town, Oyo State, who are disturbed by the wanton murder of innocent citizens and the traumatisation of the indigenes by the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi 111, “through his goons, the acts of which have remained unchecked and un-investigated by the Nigerian State in spite of all known legal processes to cause the State to do so,” Oluokun and Ishola wrote in the petition to The Hague, dated Sept. 9, 2015.

“So if Oba Adeyemi 111 is too big for Nigeria State to be investigated and brought to book, the ICC is our last hope to stymie the criminal tendencies of his and restore the hope that nobody is above the law.”

A Federal High Court Sitting in Ibadan had on Dec. 15, 2014, issued an order of mandamus compelling the Inspector General of Police to investigate Oba Adeyemi for alleged criminalities, including murder, bomb planting, unlawful possession of arms and so on.

The application for mandamus with the suit No: FHC/IB/CS/54/2014 was filed at the Federal High court, Ibadan, by the applicants’ counsel, Biodun Abdur-Raheem on July 16, 2014, two months after the police declined actions on the petition.

The petitioners noted with concern that 13 months after the court gave its order, the Nigerian Police are yet to comply, thus raising suspicion that Oba Adeyemi is being helped to escape investigation.

Despite all these, the Alaafin has continued his normal everyday activities seemingly unperturbed.  Some concerned citizens of the state who spoke to AljazirahNigeria were worried that it is a case of one monarch being above the law or too big for the Nigerian state.

The people of Oyo Isale have however vowed not to rest untill they get justice for their slain High Chief. Although it remains to be seen if such justice will be achieved.

All the efforts by AljazirahNigeria to get the palace to respond proved abortive as calls were not answered and the SMS sent was also  not replied.

 

 

Nigerian Online Newspaper=


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