The Oyomesi, the body of kingmakers in Oyo, have said that there was no time Governor Seyi Makinde rejected their choice of Prince Lukuman Adelodun Gbadegesin as Alaafin-elect, insisting the selection process had followed due process and was upheld by the court.
They said the two chiefs, who claimed in a statement on Monday that the process did not follow due process, are agents of political interests exploiting the name of the governor to undermine Oyo’s traditional system and enthrone a “weak” Alaafin that would be at their beck and call.
Speaking through their head, High Chief Yusuf Akinade Ayoola, who is the Basorun of Oyo, the Oyomesi said that the seven of them who took part in the selection process unanimously voted for Gbadegesin, adding that none of them raised an objection.
Throughout the process, Basorun said, all security apparatuses as well as government officials were represented.
He cautioned the duo of Samu and Agbaakin of Oyo, High Chief Lamidi Oyewale and High Chief Asimiyu Atanda respectively against unguarded statements and allowing themselves to be used by political interests working to interfere in the process.
Basorun, who spoke on behalf of Akinniku, High Chief Hamzat Yusuf; Lagunna, High Chief Wakeel Akindele Oyedepo; Chief Gbadebo Mufutau (Alapo) and Chief Wahab Oyetunji (Aare Ago), said they were happy that the duo of Samu and Agbaakin did not deny that they signed the letter appointing Gbadegesin as Alaafin-elect.
“What they failed to tell the people was that warrant chiefs are appointees of government and not those of Oyomesi. They are appointed on the recommendation of the local government. For example, to fill the vacant position of Ashipa of Oyo, Atiba local government applied to the ministry of local government and chieftaincy matters that the position needed to be filled to select a new Alaafin. The council thereafter proposed 3 names and Aare Ago was picked. The ministry wrote a letter appointing him as warrant chief. I didn’t appoint him.
“While the selection process was ongoing, we lost the Alapinni. The Alapinni, traditionally, is a member of the Oyo East traditional council and by the office, he is one of the Oyomesi who participate in the selection of an Alaafin. There was confusion as to whether to treat the Alapinni in his customary role as a member of the Oyomesi to participate in the selection. There was also confusion as to whether Atiba or Oyo East local government should nominate. Atiba made recommendations for 3 people. Oyo East equally felt Alapinni is a member of the LG’s traditional council and equally made suggestions for 3 names. The ministry of local government and chieftaincy matters chose Alapo of Oke Apo. We later learnt that it chose Alapo because, after looking at names on both lists from the two council areas, he appeared in both. The ministry thereafter wrote a letter appointing him as the approved warrant chief to fill the vacant position of Alapinni in the Oyomesi.
”With the two positions of Ashipa and Alapinni properly filled and in conjunction with the 5 surviving Oyomesi members, the 7 of us met on the 30th of September, 2022, and decided to vote who should be the Alaafin among the 82 princes whose applications were before us. All 7 of us unanimously picked Prince Lukuman Adelodun Gbadegesin as the Alaafin-elect.
”And as it is customary, we wrote a letter conveying our choice of Prince Lukuman Gbadegesin as the Alaafin to the governor of Oyo State. This is in line with the chief laws. Section 20 (2) of the law gives the governor 21 days to approve, within which either an unsuccessful prince or a ruling house can write a petition to the governor, stating that such a selection shouldn’t be approved.
“After the 21 days and up until now, no petition or claim has been received by the governor. The governor of Oyo State, or his ministry, has not called our attention to the existence of such a petition.
”But curiously, one of the unsuccessful princes, Hakeem Ladigbolu, dragged the governor, attorney general, commissioner for local government, and the seven of us who participated in the selection of Prince Lukuman Adelodun Gbadegesin as Alaafin-elect, to court. One of the prayers was that the two warrant chiefs— Alapo and Aare Ago, were not supposed to join us in the selection because the 5 of us were in the majority, and enough to select a new Alaafin. All of us— Oyo State government, the attorney general, the commissioner for local government and chieftaincy matters—defended the process in the law court.
“The court, in its ruling of 19th December, 2022, agreed with all of us that the process was validly done. Up till today, there is no appeal pending against the judgment.
“We need to ask the duo of Samu and Agbaakin that at what point did the choice of Aare Ago and Alapo become illegal in the selection of a new Alaafin?. Was it after the court had given judgment, before or during the case?
”The only time our attention was called was a letter written on October October 2022 with reference number CB.141/38/1/79 and addressed to the chairman of Atiba local government, conveying the substitution of Alapo of Oke Apo with the Baale of Ajagba. But the matter was already in court. The governor and the ministry that wrote the letter were co-defendants. Therefore, no such action can be taken with the letter until the court came up with the judgment. And finally, the judgment came and approved the two warrant chiefs (Alapo and Aare Ago).
”It is clear, if at all, that if there is no effect to the letter substituting Alapo with Baale of Ajagba, it was because of the court judgment that had approved the nomination of Alapo as warrant chief to participate in the selection of the new Alaafin.”
Calling on the duo of Samu and Agbaakin not to blackmail the governor or drag his name into Oyomesi affairs, Basorun said he and four others should not be portrayed as lawless or people who don’t have regard for constituted authority.
Basorun challenged the duo of Samu and Agbaakin to explain to the people of Oyo why they wanted to change their position after successfully defending their roles in the selection of Prince Lukuman Gbadegesin before a court of competent jurisdiction.
Concerning the new chieftaincy law of Oyo state, Basorun explained that “it came into existence this year. The act and the process of selection of Alaafin were already done in accordance with the 1961 Alaafin chieftaincy declaration and the 2000 chief law of Oyo State which were prevailing as at the time the selection was done. Therefore, if there is another provision in the new law, it would never have retroactive effect, invalidating the action taken when the new law was not in existence.“
Basorun said that they met several times before the final one where the selected Prince Lukuman Adelodun Gbadegesin.
”We met several times as all the 82 princes appeared for interviews before us. Was the interview conducted in just a day? The interview dragged on for two weeks. The minutes of the meetings as recorded by the secretary of Atiba, Hon. Akerele, attest to the series of meetings we held. We are, therefore, appealing to our two colleagues not to bring falsehood into justifying their new attempt to go against what we all approved.
“We want to call the attention of the generality of the Oyos that the positions of the Samu and Agbaakin in antagonizing the selection process is not known to anybody in Oyo, at least for the past 10 months. At what point did they find out that the participation of the warrant chiefs in the selection process was ill-constituted? Was it after successfully defending their roles in the selection process before a court of competent jurisdiction or after the judgment?
“It is a lie that the government rejected the nomination of Prince Lukuman Adelodun Gbadegesin. They should come out with the letter from the government rejecting the process.
”We want to remind our two brothers— Samu and Agbaakin, that the appointment of warrant chiefs is just to fill the vacant positions of Asipa and Alapinni in the selection process alone and not replace any late member of the Oyomesi.