A crisis may be looming over the replacement of the late Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, who died at the University of Ibadan College Hospital, Ibadan, in the early hours of Sunday.
This is sequel to a petition written by former attorney-general of Oyo state,
Michael Lana, where he said Lekan Balogun, a former senator, who is generally expected to succeed the late Saliu Adetunji, is unfit to be crowned as the next Olubadan of Ibadan.
The late Saliu Adetunji, who was the 41st king of the ancient city, was buried according to Islamic rites the same day.
Following the death of the monarch, Balogun who is currently the Otun Olubadan is next in line to be king.
However, in a letter dated January 3, and addressed to Seyi Makinde, Oyo state governor, Lana said installing Balogun as king will amount to an “aberration and illegality”.
The lawyer said Balogun, some high chiefs and Baales were illegally conferred with their titles by Abiola Ajimobi, former Oyo governor.
“Kindly note, your excellency, that your predecessor in office, without thinking at the legal effects of his actions on the future of Ibadan traditional institution, conferred the title of Obaship on some high chiefs and Baales and gave them the right to wear beaded crowns and coronets in 2017,” he said.
“This action was challenged in suit No. M317/ 2017-high chief Rashid Ladoja V the governor of Oyo state.”
Lana said the conferment was nullified by Aiki J, a high court judge, for being in contravention of both the chiefs law and the Ibadan chieftaincy customary law.
“However, the court of appeal in Appeal No.CA/111/99/ 2018 set aside the said Judgment of Aiki J on technical grounds without touching on the merit of the case and sent the case hack for retrial,” the lawyer continued.
“Upon your excellency’s assumption of office, it was resolved that the matter be settled amicably and the same was settled through the instrumentality of a Terms of Settlement which became the judgment of the court.
“The said Terms of Settlement recognised the illegality of the said actions and therefore set aside the gazettes by which the said chiefs became Obas with a right to wear beaded crowns and coronets.
“These high chiefs and Baales were dissatisfied with this consent judgment and therefore instituted two separate suits to set aside the consent judgment while at the same time clinging to the title of Obas (which actually is in contempt of court).
“One of these cases is Suit No: Suit No.I/ 22/ 2020-HRM Oba (senator) Lekan Balogun & ors V governor of Oyo state & ors.”
Lana said despite the fact that the “aberration” changed the Ibadan chieftaincy customary law, “the Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration of 1957 was not amended and therefore remains extant”.
He said: “Under that declaration and all relevant law, no Oba can ascend to the throne of Olubadan.
“In other words, as long as the high chiefs still cling to the title of Oba, they cannot ascend to that throne and any installation of any of them during the pendency of that suit is illegal, null and void.
“It is in line with this legal situation that I advice, most humbly, that you should withhold any approval of any high chief to become the 0lubadan so that you will not also join in the desecration of Ibadan chieftaincy customary law.”
The former attorney-general, however, said: “There are only two ways to deal with this situation: one is for the high chiefs to withdraw the aforementioned cases and the other is to wait for the court to pronounce on it before any step is taken to install an Olubadan.
“If the court holds that they have the right to be Obas and entitled to wear beaded crowns, then they are perpetually barred from becoming another Oba. Nowhere in the customary law of any Yoruba town is an Oba elevated to become another Oba.
“On the other hand, the court holds that the Terms of Settlement stands, and their obaship title is illegal, then they are free to be elevated to the post of Olubadan.”