Oba Akanbi of Iwo

By Olusesan Laoye

Palpable fear has now engulfed the ancient city of Iwo in the Osun West Senatorial Zones of Osun State in south-west Nigeria over the move to dethrone the Monarch of the town Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi.

The twelve powerful kingmakers in the town had jointly signed a memorandum which was forwarded to the Osun State Governor Chief Gboyega Oyetola that the monarch be removed because his actions were not befitting the status of a Yoruba traditional ruler, and a disgrace to the Iwo kingdom and its people, who have been known to uphold the Yoruba culture and heritage for centuries.

The kingmakers’ allegations against Oba Akanbi were weighty and they insisted that the entire town has decided to get him out of the throne, due to his disgraceful acts which have portrayed the people of Iwo and the entire Yoruba nation in a bad light. The allegations, among others, are that the Oluwo was convicted for fraud-related crimes in the U S A and Canada.

Also that he was suspended from the state  council of Obas in Osun State for beating up a co- Oba Dhikuralahi, Akinropo the Agbowu of Ogbagba at a peace meeting in the AIG zone II office

He was also alleged to have fought top and notable chiefs and elders in the town such as Chief Abiola Ogundokun, Imrah Adio a leading Islamic cleric whom he removed as the Otun Ajanasi,     while he was also accused of insulting top traditional rulers in Osun State, such as the Ooni of Ife, the Orangun of Ila, among others.

The kingmakers then called for his outright dethronement by the State government which is the only authority that could act on the requests of the kingmakers to sack the Oba.  There are many issues which prompted the kingmakers, some powerful rulers in Osun State, and some influential personalities to call for his removal.

Since he came to the throne he had made many controversial utterances and taken some actions which are unlike Yoruba traditional rulers and against the culture and tradition of Yoruba people

At the inception of his accession to the throne, he proclaimed himself the Emir, Obi and Igwe of   Iwo land. These titles were condemned by Yoruba people, who regarded it as an insult and intended to diminish the Obaship title, being used in Yoruba land.

But despite the controversies and uproar which this generated, the Oluwo was unrepentant as he justified his action for changing the Obaship title, saying that he had the right to bear any title he liked.  He even went further to say that the Emirs in the North appreciated his emir’s regalia.

Other actions of the Oba which gave the people of Iwo serious concern was how he allegedly had issues with another traditional ruler very close to Iwo and whom they bear the same title. The Oluwo Oke was bitter and accused him of fraud, adding that Oba Akanbi collected his passport and defrauded him.

The Oluwo Oke after they were unable to settle amicably, armed with strong evidence exposed Oba Akanbi and sued him. But he the Oluwo refused to attend the court proceedings, following which the presiding judge issued a bench warrant which he ignored on the three occasions he was summoned to court.

This angered the Judge who ordered the Osun State Commissioner of Police to arrest him and he was to have been jailed for contempt but for the interventions of the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and the former Osun State Governor Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola who pleaded with the Judge forcing the Judge quit the case and pleaded that it should be transferred to another court.

The issue of his former wife who was crowned as Queen and which generated so much heat and controversies and the way he subsequently divorced her baffled the entire Yoruba nation and the people of Iwo kingdom. These are only some of the allegations of misconduct against the Oba, which have prompted the petition.

With the petition for his removal to Governor Oyetola, tension is now very high in the town as no one knows what would be the outcome of the king-makers action against the King.

When BusinessHallmark visited Iwo town at the weekend to assess the situation, the issue was the talk of the town. There are strict restrictions into the palace as only those who have a business and close members of the royal house were allowed into the palace.

While some people were distancing themselves from the Oba there were scores of people milling around for solidarity but some of them who confided in our reporter said they had no choice because if they were not at the palace they won’t earn their daily bread.

They pointed out that since the fresh crisis with the monarch began, patronage in the palace has been very low because the Oba was not having visitors, whom they usually relied upon to doll out money, saying that those who now come are now scanty. At the Oja Oba and other markets like Odori people were going about their normal duties but there was an impression of uncertainty on their faces. Those approached for comments said they were not interested in the issue but feared that the matter could lead to an uprising later if the state government and prominent people in Yoruba land failed to settle the matter amicably.

It was also learnt that some of the kingmakers who signed the petition against the Oba have gone into hiding as they were afraid of their lives being threatened. A trader in Odori market Alhaji Ganiyu Olorunlagba told our reporter that as far as the people of the town were concerned, tension is still high.

He argued that a lot of people were not happy with many of the actions of the Oluwo but his removal could lead to the serious battle in the town and that the Oba’s supporters since he is still on the throne may want to attack their perceived enemies and this could lead to break down of law and order, as has always been the case with chieftaincy disputes in Yoruba land.

The Oluwo while reacting in a statement argued that the action of the Kingmakers was sponsored. Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi said those calling for his removal from the throne as Oba are dubious, describing the move as the conspiracy of detractors.

The monarch in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Alli Ibrahim, claimed that indigenes of the town living abroad have engaged the service of a legal practitioner, who was threatening to sue the State Government if it refused to remove the monarch.

The monarch said that the purported petition was a deliberate attempt by those who he described as detractors to derail him from the glory his reign has brought to the ancient stool of Iwo.

“It’s a conspiracy of a detractor who has been fighting so hard to become the Oluwo of Iwo. The detractors have gone beyond many times to discredit Oba Akanbi and failed serially. The recent was to divide the kingmakers but dead on arrival. Achievements of Oluwo endeared him to Iwo, more. You can’t run down what your children may benefit in the future.

“Oba Akanbi is a king of positive marks. His reign is prosperous, fruitful, and virile to the advantage of all and sundry but because someone who has been a serial aspirant wants to be Oluwo by all possible means is romancing few individuals to detract Oba Akanbi’s reign. The deaf could hear IWO is moving.

“From all indications, Iwo is secured economically, security-wise. The religious atmosphere, traditional and political deals are peaceful under his majesty. Iwo has never had it so good like this traditionally. The loathing is natural when good things keep coming to town. Detractors romancing my Chiefs should continue wasting their time, Oluwo will keep lifting his subjects”, it reads.

“We learnt of a letter purportedly written by some kingmakers calling for the removal of Oluwo. We need not reiterating the fact that some of them were under duress, stage-managed by an over 40-year serial contestant to the revered stool of Oluwo.

“We want to state it categorically that detractors who contested the stool with His Imperial Majesty, Oba (Dr.) Abdulrosheed Adewale Akanbi is making every possible attempt to derail the compassionate Oluwo from the glory his reign has credited to the ancient stool of Iwo. So much good things are happenings to Iwo under TELU. Why must it be him?” they asked.

Speaking with our Correspondent, one of the kingmakers, whose name was among the writers of the petition, Chief Amao Olaosebikan, Aro, said he was not aware of any petition. Olaosebikan who described Oluwo as a good monarch said he was hearing about the petition for the first time, promising to consult other kingmakers and their head, Chief Osa for clarification.

Also speaking, another kingmaker, Chief Ganiyu Kazeem Ayinde, Jagun of Iwo declined comment directing our Correspondent to Chief Osa for any clarification as regards the petition. Also, the family of Balogun Mosunmare has indicated that both sons and daughters at home and Diaspora did not support the kingmaker Balogun Chief Rauf Muraina Adebayo Olorunlambe from their family who joined to sign the petition.

Head of the family and Alhaji Tijani Alamu and the Secretary pointed out that the family still remains loyal to Oluwo.

But BusinessHallmark  was told that Balogun despite the family’s disclaimed his stand has vowed not to go back along with others he jointly signed with to kick Akanbi out of the throne

A former Chairman of Iwo local government Alhaji Sule Bello said that Oba Akanbi has done many things which warrant his dethronement. He argued that from the look of things majority in the town are fed up with many actions of the monarch.

“I don’t think the kingmakers would go back from the decisions they have taken to get the Oba out of the palace.”

Meanwhile, there were speculations, that the state government may not do anything on their petition but Governor Oyetola would rather call both parties to order for peace to reign in the town because he would not want a situation whereby the bid to remove Oba Akanbi would lead to bloodshed in the town.

It is now being envisaged that the judiciary may resolve the matter as some Iwo indigenes bent on effecting his removal insisting that the previous documents on fraud which formed the basis    of the Oluwo Oke of Oke’s initially action to take him to court and which led to the intervention of Obasanjo and Aregbesola

 Meanwhile, some people at the weekends staged a solidarity rally in support of Oba Akanbi against the kingmakers. Those at the rally included okada riders and market women.

The Oba told them that he would still spend 67 years on the throne as it has been ordained that he would spend 127 years on the throne. He said the rally showed that the people still want him on the throne.

“Today is my judgment day and to show that you people standing here are with me and that I am in the good books of my people”

Also, Chief Lamuye addressed the rally and asked the people to be calm as any negative action by them could cause crisis in the town. He said it was good that the people have come out to show their support for the Oba.

However, the head of the kingmaker Osa who refused to speak before has now spoken.

When journalists contacted him after the rally he said it was organised and sponsored one to show that the people are behind the Oba which did not show the true reflection of what was really on the ground.

He pointed out that the kingmakers still maintain their ground because those in the organised rally were not told the true story of their grouse with the Oba.

“He thinks he can use a rally of some religious groups to prevent us from the change; our stand on a petition in a public domain. The petition is already a registered public document.”

He, however, said that if the Oba Akanbi toes the path of honour the matter could be resolved but he must assured the people of the town both at home and the Diaspora that he would be prepared to change his ways and respect the  tradition and the culture of Yoruba land