Two traditional rulers have been killed and their corpses reportedly burnt to ashes within a month in Ogun State. In this report, Daily Trust takes a look at incidences of assassination and assault on royal fathers in the state – a development that has been labelled “silent war.”
Traditional rulers in Yorubaland, enjoy ‘larger than life’ posture, hence, they are referred to as “Alase Ekeji Orisa”, that’s second in command to the gods. And as the custodians of culture and tradition, the throne they occupy commands respect and their words are taken as law by their subjects.
But modernity seems to be taking a toll on the age-long reverence to the throne. The monarchs are now being visited with death and assault by their subjects.
Oba Patrick Fasinu, the late Olowo of Owo in Yewa South Local Area of Ogun State, was hacked down by assassins on July 26, 2017. He was on his way from a meeting of the Yewa Traditional Council when hoodlums waylaid him.
He was said to have dropped off his driver along the way and was heading home when he was waylaid by the assailants. The men reportedly dragged him out of his car and hacked him with an axe. They then took him back to the car, which they set on fire before fleeing the scene.
The monarch’s charred remains were recovered the following day by policemen from the state command.
Findings revealed that a similar incident happened in 2011 when a traditional ruler was killed along Igbogila axis “without the assailants brought to justice”.
Oba Fasinu’s assassination led to the outcry by his fellow Obas in Yewaland who described the killing as a “silent war” against the traditional institution.
The Olu of Ilaro and paramount ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, labelled Oba Fasinu’s killing as callous, degrading, inhuman and gruesome.
“The action is an abhorrence of the custom and tradition of Yorubaland and humanity. Such evil should not be allowed to go the way of similar cases across the country. This is a silent war against the institution of the traditional rulers in the country which must not be condoned by the law enforcement agencies and the government,” Olugbenle said.
In 2019, community leaders in Owo demanded justice over the murder of their traditional ruler. Leaders and members of the community led by the Vice-Chairman of Owo Forum, Mrs Aghelegin Olayinka, in a protest in Abeokuta, the state capital, said nothing had been done to ensure justice on the matter.
Unlike Oba Fasinu’s case, in 2013, a first class monarch, the Olofin of Ado Odo in Ado Odo/Ota Local Government Area, Oba Lateef Adeniran, escaped death.
Oba Adeniran, now late, was in April 2013 attacked by some angry youths in his domain. The royal father was in his SUV when he was flagged down by the youths.
He was beaten and stripped naked by the people, who were said to have earlier invaded his palace to vandalise cars and torch the house.
It was gathered that the youths at the time were protesting a Supreme Court judgment which validated Adeniran’s appointment as the Oba of Ado-Odo, Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area. The monarch could only return to his kingdom seven years after the incident.
The first-class Oba had resided in Abeokuta even as he attended to issues that have to do with the stool. He returned to his domain in 2020, and died in January this year.
A recent case of monarchs’ assassination was recorded on January 24 when the Olu of Agodo, Oba Ayinde Odetola, was killed and burnt to death in Ewekoro Local Government Area.
Three other persons said to be friends of the deceased monarch were also burnt to ashes.
Locals told journalists that the killings followed a clash over the chieftaincy title of the Alagodo. It was gathered there was a crisis over who occupied the seat between Ake and Owu people of Egbaland.
Sources said the late monarch was from the Ake section of Egba, but there had been misgivings that an Ake person cannot rule the town mostly dominated by Owu people.
It was learnt that a brother to the late monarch was gruesomely murdered not too long ago.
After the incident the whole town was deserted and it took the police to appeal to the fleeing residents to return.
“Those who perpetrated the crime know themselves and we are after them; we are not after ordinary citizens of that community, so the people should come back to the place and live their normal lives,” the police spokesman, Abimbola Oyeyemi, assured.
With the dust still yet to settle, the Baale of Olowe Gbagura in Abeokuta North Local Government Area, Chief Akin Muheedeen, was last week reportedly burnt to death.
It was gathered that the community head had gone out to observe the Islamic morning prayer (Subhi), when fire was discovered within his compound.
The locals said the traditional ruler was killed by some unknown persons, who broke a window to gain access into the premises.
The deceased Baale had an issue with some people over land.
He was reportedly arrested and arraigned for his alleged involvement in a tussle with some individuals claiming ownership of a land he was equally laying claim to.
The village head, who was expected to appear in court on March 15, had reportedly commenced the amicable resolution of the matter before his death.
Meanwhile, last week, the family of the slain monarch of Agodo community in Ewekoro Local Government Area of Ogun State, Late Oba Ayinde Odetola, demanded justice for the traditional ruler.
Residents of the community and the family members of the traditional ruler stormed the governor’s office to demand justice for the slain monarch.
The protesters called on the Commissioner of Police, members of the State House of Assembly and Alake of Egbaland, to ensure diligent investigation to unravel those behind the killing.
They lamented that the once peaceful community had become a shadow of itself following the gruesome murder.
Governor vows to hunt down assailants
The state governor, Dapo Abiodun, had condemned the killing of Oba Odetola, vowing to visit the full wrath of the law on the perpetrators of the murders.
Declaring that his administration would not tolerate breach of peace and harmony being currently enjoyed in the state, Abiodun, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, directed security agencies to immediately fish out the killers.
He also sent a stern warning to those threatening the peace of the state. “Security of lives and property top our responsibilities as a government and we will not allow people to take laws into their hands,” the governor was quoted as saying.
11 suspects arrested by police
The Zone 2 Police Command on Monday confirmed the arrest of 11 suspects in connection with the killing.
A statement by the spokeswoman for the command, SP Hauwa Idris-Adamu, revealed that the police acted on a petition from one Odetola Okuribido, on behalf of the Okuribido Royal Family of Agodo town.
“That on Monday, January 24, 2022, His Royal Highness, Oba Odetola Olajide Ayinde, the Olu of Agodo town, Ogun State, was murdered by one Gbeminyi Sotade, aka Okon, and his cohorts.
“The late traditional ruler went to his village on a portion of land to clear the gravesite of his late brother. All of a sudden, a group of hoodlums, numbering about 50, led by one Gbeminiyi Sotade, attacked him, while three of his relatives were assaulted and hacked with machetes.
“The hoodlums pushed the traditional ruler into his red Toyota Sienna SUV 2016 with number plate APP 55 GF, while one Agbara drove the vehicle in the company of other hoodlums to a nearby forest, where they poured petrol on him and the vehicle was finally set ablaze with the corpse locked in it.
“Eleven suspects have so far been arrested and they have confessed to their involvement in the crime. Meanwhile, efforts are in top gear to arrest others at large.”
Our correspondent reports that the killing of traditional rulers appear to be compounding the rising insecurity in the state. Ogun, in recent times, has been in the news for cases of ritual killings, kidnapping, rape, cultism and cybercrime.