prominent indigene of Iwo town in Osun State, Chief Abiola Ogundokun, in this interview with FEMI MAKINDE traces the genesis of the crisis between him and the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi
You supported the current Oluwo of Iwo before he ascended the throne and in less than two years, you are having issues with him. What actually went wrong?
I was briefed four days to his installation. As an elder, who wants to avoid any controversy, I decided to accept him. They wanted my support for the peace and stability of the town.
The elders knew my antecedents, especially how I supported previous monarchs in the town. I attended his (Oluwo’s) coronation despite the fact that I never met him in my life until that time. I did everything to support him. I visited him at Õunto (seclusion) where he was supposed to spend three months. I gave him N200,000 and he didn’t deny the fact that he was a poor man. I promised to give him my fullest support. That was the stage I got to know who his father was. The Oluwo, during my visit to him, said to me, “I now believe that my father is not dead because I know you will be my father.” I assured him of my support and we started on a good note. Unfortunately, he failed to perform all the necessary rites in Ōunto, because he didn’t spend up to the normal days there.
Any Oba that would become the Oluwo must stay there for at least three months before he could be properly crowned. I don’t know why he refused to adhere to the rules. He spent less than the period required of him by tradition. Despite his inadequacies, I kept giving him financial and moral support. I tried to give him whatever he wanted, money and all that. Not long after he ascended the throne, many people started having quarrels with him and this got him into trouble. The elders of the town were complaining, especially the Asiwaju of Iwo land, Barrister Adedeji, who doesn’t greet and talk to him up till now. He also ran into problem with the Ekerin, another elder of the community.
He wanted a first-class palace that would look like that of the Queen of England. I did what I could for him. I furnished the whole palace with about N5m. He was telling people then that “If I have two Ogundokuns in Iwo, I don’t need any other person.”
Along the line, the issue of Oluwo Oke came up. The two monarchs (Oluwo of Iwo and Oluwo Oke) met at the palace of the Ooni of Ife. One of the traditional rulers on the occasion jokingly referred to the Oluwo as the father of Oluwo Oke. Oluwo Oke said that was not true, that the two of them (Oba Akanbi and the Oluwo Oke) are brothers. Oba Akanbi got angry and almost beat up the Oluwo Oke before other monarchs intervened. He was said to have later mobilised some youths to destroy his (Oluwo Oke’s) property.
Do you think that Oba Akanbi can instigate the youths to destroy the Oluwo Oke’s property?
That was the claim of the Oluwo Oke. Going by his antecedents, I believe that he can instigate the youths. I am the Otun Balogun of Iwo and am also the Areago of Iwo Oke. Part of my duties is to ensure a cordial relationship between the two kings. I went to beg (former President Olusegun) Obasanjo and Governor Rauf Aregbesola to intervene. He (Oluwo) was saved from being jailed because he committed contempt of court.
At a point, he started a campaign of calumny against the Ooni of Ife. He also made inflammatory statements against the Alaafin of Oyo and the Olubadan.
What statements did he make against the Ooni?
He claimed to be superior to them. He is so ambitious to the extent that he wanted to be the Chairman of the Council of Traditional Rulers in Osun State. He went out lobbying for the post. He (Oluwu) made him (Ooni) to do all sorts of things, forgetting that he is the youngest Oba among them. He even claimed that according to history, he could still be the Ooni. This is a false claim. You can’t be the king in Iwo and seek to become the Ooni of Ife. As an elder, I was very disappointed to hear this. If you advise him (Oluwo), he will see you as his enemy. If he wanted to go to party, I gave him money. I bought clothes for him. I even built structures for the Iwo East Local Council Development Authority which I named after him.
There was a day over 5,000 people went to the palace; they wanted to burn the palace but I intervened to save the situation.
Why did they want to set the palace ablaze?
They claimed he (Oluwo) hid one witch, who had stolen somebody’s child inside the palace. The Divisional Police Officer in the town at that time sustained a very serious injury while preventing the youths from taking laws into their hands. But I did everything to save the situation. He even invited people to come and contest chieftaincy titles in order to make money from them. My brother contested the chieftaincy position of Babaloja. I know how much he collected from him.
Is it true that he had made you his second-in-command?
Sometime ago, he told me that he wanted to upgrade my title so that I can become his second-in-command. He came up with a chieftaincy title, which he called “Obanla of Iwo”. I told him I had never heard of such a title before. He said there was one in Ilesa. He told me the story behind the Obanla title in Ilesa. He said the title was given to Ogedengbe, because he fought a very fierce battle and defeated the enemy and the Oba there said that was the only way he could honour him.
He started pressurising me since then to accept his offer, but I kept declining. One day, they just brought a letter of appointment to me from the palace. My concern with accepting the title had to do with the fact that he does not listen to my advice. This year also, he sought to make me a member of Iwo Board of Trustees. I told him point-blank that I was supposed to be their patron. He insisted that he wanted me to sanitise the place and I accepted.
There are rumours that you wanted to beat him before the governor when he intervened. How did it happen?
The governor invited us. I did not engage him in a fight. He stood up and he wanted to beat me. You can ask from the governor. What happened was that the governor was getting fed up with the crisis and he invited the two of us. I think he did this based on the security report he got. People knew that there could be a breakdown of law and order if I got fed up with the whole thing. The governor arranged the meeting so that he could settle the crisis. The governor said he had enough reports from security agencies. The governor told him that he did not want him to be making trouble with me because I was so good to him (Oluwo) in the past.
But Oluwo insisted that he would tell his story. He said the governor should not just settle the matter like that without hearing from him. The governor persuaded him not to but he refused.
He started telling lies. He said I never did anything to help him. In response, I said, “Mr. Governor, I am very surprised that a whole traditional ruler could descend so low and be telling lies without caution.” I then faced him and said, “Oluwo, what do you want to gain by telling all these lies?” And he (Oluwo) replied, “If you allow that your hand to move close to me, I will beat the hell out of you.” He suddenly stood up and wanted to punch me. I dared him to punch me. I was on a seat but he was already up, threatening me with his fist. The governor was surprised and he asked him to sit down. He said he must not hear what happened anywhere. During the altercation, he (Oluwo) said he made my brother the Babaloja. But I responded by saying that he did not do that without being paid. The Babaloja title was made possible courtesy of the N1m I gave him.
Do you have any receipt for that?
Do you ask for receipt when you give such money? But the whole town knows that I am the one financing him. He turned round now to attack me. He said he would strip my brother of that title but that one refused.
What happened last Sunday at a wedding ceremony in Iwo?
Oluwo said I came to greet some traditional rulers, who sat close to him, and I did not greet him. This is a man some people took me to greet at a funeral ceremony in Ikire. I was taken to him after persuasion by prominent personalities, including Chief Inaolaji but Oluwo shunned us. He just stood up and said he was going to dance.
The ceremony was holding in my hometown. I didn’t want him to disgrace me again so I didn’t greet him. He started cursing and abusing me when it was his turn to pray at the ceremony. He said I did not greet him and that I trod on his toes. The Islamic leaders there pleaded with him to stop but he refused. When they wanted to snatch the microphone from him, he resisted.
After that event, the Oluwo announced that he had stripped you of all chieftaincy titles conferred on you….
He is not competent to do so. He acted alone. He did not consult with anybody. He just said that. He has no power to do that. The Imams have said he does not have the power to do so. The ruling houses also said he could not do that.
Editor’s note: The Oluwo of Iwo refused to respond to Ogundokun’s claims.