By: Yinka Adeniran
Guns boomed yesterday in front of the palace of the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji.
Five gun-toting men riding in a bus shot sporadically into the air to scare people who were at the palace to witness the installation of some village heads (baales).
Thera has been tension in the ancient city since the state government installed 21 obas, among them the high chiefs of the Olubadan.
The monarch and one of the nine surviving high chiefs, the Osi Olubadan, former Governor Rashidi Ladoja, opposed the crowning of the obas.
Ahead of yesterday’s installation, the high chiefs urged the Olubadan not to go ahead with the “unilateral decision” taken “without any meeting of the Obas-in-council to determine the suitability or otherwise of such persons.”
They described the appointments as “illegal”.
The high chiefs said they had petitioned the Olubadan on the matter and also informed the government. Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy matters Z.O. Jayeola asked the Olubadan to suspend the plan.
A notice of discontinuation of the installation was pasted on the wall of the palace but the Olubadan did not bulge.
The traditional ruler went ahead to install the baales and mogajis. His media adviser, Adeola Oloko, said the monarch “needs no approval of anybody” to install baales. He added that the installation was long overdue “as the families of those to be installed today have submitted their names over five months ago.”
Only two of the four baales (village heads) scheduled to be installed showed up at the event. The Baale of Lagelu, Aboke Village, Lagelu Local Government Area, Sayeed Aderemi Alatise and the Baale of Adigun Village, Ona Ara Local Government, Taye Makinde Aikomo, were installed.
The Baale of Baba Odi Village, Ido Local Government, Tajudeen Oladejo Babaode, and the Baale Oyedeji Ojo Aro Town, Akinyele Local Government, Pa Ezekiel Akinboade Ojedeju, were absent.
As the ceremony was going on inside the palace at Popoyemoja, the gunmen drove in.
Eyewitnesses said the five men rode in a white Sienna Toyota bus with an open roof.
One of the gunmen was said to have shot into the air. Others reportedly shot through the vehicle’s windows.
The sources said the gunmen wore black clothes and tied red aprons on their heads.
A former Secretary to the Oyo State Government, Chief Sharafadeen Alli, Asiwaju Babatunde Yusuff and Adedokun Ayobami , all of them inside Alli’s Toyota Land Cruiser Sport Utility Vehicle marked LAGOS EPE 447 ER, had a close shave with death. The gunmen fired at the car, boring big holes on its side.
Alli, who is the Asaaju Balogun Olubadan, was approaching the palace in his car from Oke Ado. Less than 15 metres to the entrance of the palace, the gunmen approaching from the Beere end abruptly stopped and started shooting in the air and at Alli’s vehicle.
Also damaged was a Honda Civic car marked Lagos GGE 690 CU belonging to Princess Iyabo Adeyemi, Ladoja’s wife’s sister. She was not inside the car when it was attacked in front of the mosque beside the palace where it was parked among several other cars.
Three reporters covering the event – Olufemi Atoyebi, Demola Babalola and Jeremiah Oke – docked inside a culvert to avoid being hit by bullets.
The hefty private security guards manning the entrance gates took to their heels.
Many of the guests seated in the palace were initially unaware of the commotion outside as music blared. Seated were Senator Ladoja, and Senator Olufemi Lanlehin.
After the incident, a heavy security presence was noticed within the vicinity of the palace.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi, who was attending the State Executive Council meeting at the time of the incident, directed all security agencies to ensure that those responsible for the crisis were brought to book.
His Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy Mr. Yomi Layinka, said in a statemnt: “The governor has directed all security agencies to ensure that those involved and responsible are swiftly arrested, interrogated and brought to book. He has vowed not to brook any one or group of people desirous of bringing back their regime of violence and brigandage in this state.
“He wishes to reiterate his commitment to the full security of lives and properties of all citizens of Oyo State.”
Commissioner of Police Abiodun Odude said his men reported that some gunmen in a Toyota Sienna Bus passed by, shooting into the air but that there was no injury or death.
The commissioner, who did not say if any arrest had been made, vowed to get to the root of the matter.
He said: “I got a report from my men who were around in the area. A report was lodged at the Mapo Police Station. The report had it that some men in a Toyota Sienna bus passing by were shooting into the air but that there was no injury or death.”
When asked if any arrest had been made, the police boss said: “We are investigating.”
In an interview with reporters, Ladoja said: “The hoodlums that just invaded the palace can be said to have been engineered by some people. I don’t understand why people refuse to follow the normal procedure. If you think that something is wrong, go to court.
“I saw the advertisement in the paper today (yesterday) whereby they are challenging the power of Olubadan to install new baales. If they feel bad about it, they should go to court. They should not start creating fear into the minds of people.
“There is nobody that has got the exclusivity of violence. But we normally prefer to do our things in a legal way. The courts are there. They should try to go to the court if they feel that what Olubadan is doing is illegal.
“Let me remind you that Olubadan-in-Council is an advisory body to the Olubadan. If you are supposed to advise somebody, he has a right to accept your advice or reject it. So, I don’t understand why people cannot just follow the simple decorum. I don’t understand why people will take laws into their hands by sending hoodlums into this place.”
Ladoja, who is one of the nine members of the Olubadan-in-Council, also said on the security of the palace: “Well, the palace is safe because look at the number of people outside, are they going to kill them? They are not going to kill them. Did they wait when they came? They just shot into the air just to scare people. They know that Olubadan is loved by the people of Ibadanland and if they are revolting against the Olubadan, that is their own headache; they can go to court.
“We know definitely well that we can say in some cases that the judiciary is not living up to their call. So, it’s unfortunate because this issue should not be allowed to linger long because I have been in court since May, and yet the case has not started.” THE NATION