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Oba Akanbi: Iwo monarch with many controversies, five years on

No doubt, Oba AbdulRasheed Adewale Akanbi, Telu 1, the Oluwo of Iwoland in Osun State, is loved by a vast majority of his subjects in…

No doubt, Oba AbdulRasheed Adewale Akanbi, Telu 1, the Oluwo of Iwoland in Osun State, is loved by a vast majority of his subjects in the ancient town but the monarch is perceived in different ways by many people, particularly those who have followed events around him in the past five years that he ascended the exalted throne. Some of Oluwo’s controversies are captured in this piece.

Opposes ritual

Oluwo did not hide his feeling against rituals, particularly those that may require human sacrifice as he insisted that it is inhumane to take the life of another human being in the name of ritual rites or sacrifice.

He was said to have boycotted some rites and rituals in the processes of his installation as Oluwo. He was openly installed with a turban by Muslim clerics when he became Oluwo. Oba Akanbi removed an 800-year-old deity from his palace, saying that it oozed poor odour.

Then, he declared that he is superior to all deities.  Many people were not happy with him over this. They said he desecrated the gods. But the people of Iwo, especially the Muslims and Christians were happy and supported him on this.

Oba Akanbi

Lead Eid prayer

Oluwo’s decision to lead Eld-el-Fitri prayer in the town in 2018 caused another controversy and pitched him against some Muslim clerics in Iwo. The monarch eventually led the eid prayer that year and many of the clerics said he was not qualified to lead prayer as Imam. Oba Akanbi said he is the leader of Muslims and that he could also lead them in prayer. The congregation prayed behind him for the eid of that year.


Withdraws Ogundokun’s chieftaincy title

Oluwo’s clash with Iwo-born prominent politician Chief Abiola Ogundokun was his major early controversy on the throne.

In the beginning, Ogundokun, an influential Iwo indigene, had supported the traditional ruler, they were very close, however, the monarch fell out with him and withdrew Ogundokun’s chieftaincy title conferred on Ogundokun by the Iwo Traditional Council.

Oluwo said the politician disrespected him but Ogundokun said he only gave him an honest advice but the advice did not go down well with Oba Akanbi. Many believed that Oluwo should not have withdrawn Ogundokun’s chieftaincy title. The state governor, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, made frantic effort to resolve the crisis between them.


Oba Akanbi’s Emir Regalia

When Oluwo adopted the Emir Regalia in March 2018, many people faulted him for imitating traditional rulers from the northern part of the country and urged him to dress like a Yoruba Oba and value his culture.

The monarch said Iwo is a predominantly Muslim town and that he could be seen as an Emir.

He said those criticising his decision were not exposed and that it is not wrong if he displays the northern culture.

He later dressed like an Igbo monarch and claimed that he was doing so to show the diversity of Nigeria. Also, the monarch appeared in English suit which many people faulted and urged him to always dress properly like a Yoruba traditional ruler.


Oba Akanbi the emperor

Oluwo caused another controversy when he declared himself an emperor and referred to Iwo as an empire.

The Oluwo on the number plate of his car was removed and replaced with ‘EMPEROR’. While some people were angry over this, Oba Akanbi said declaring Iwo an “Empire” and himself an “EMPEROR” was just a strategy to package and rebrand the ancient town with a view to placing it in global reckoning to tell the whole world that a modern king has come.


Oba Akanbi’s wife, Chanel Chin and son, Oduduwa

Oluwo’s Jamaican wife – Chanel Chin, was another controversy that set tongues wagging particularly when the monarch crowned her like a queen.

It was strange to many people seeing Oba Akanbi’s wife wearing a crown like an Oba. Many people faulted this but Oluwo defended it by saying that women deserve respect and that he did so to demonstrate how much he valued his wife.

Oluwo, in an interview, said he was able to establish the fact that Oduduwa crowned his wife too.

“I crowned my wife because Oduduwa, the progenitor of the Yoruba race gave a crown to his wife, Olokun.” When the queen gave birth to a baby boy, Oba Akanbi named him Oduduwa.

This generated another controversy as many people believed that it was wrong to give the prince the name Oduduwa. In December 2019, Oba Akanbi said his marriage to Chanel has come to an end due to some irreconcilable differences.


Oba Akanbi’s Confrontation with other traditional rulers

On different occasions, Oluwo had disagreed with other traditional rulers including the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; Oluwo of Iwo Oke, Oba Kadiri Adeoye and Agboowu of Ogbaagba, Dhikrulahi Akinropo.


Oba Akanbi and Ooni of Ife

The controversy between Oluwo and Ooni was said to be as a result of Oluwo’s claim that he is also entitled to the throne of Ooni of Ife. Oba Akanbi traced his source to Ile-Ife and identified a royal family through which he is qualified to contest for Ooni stool.

Oba Akanbi at a time stormed the compound in Ile-Ife in a ceremonial way to prove his claim. Ooni was not happy with this development. Also, Oluwo claimed that the Ooni is not superior to him in hierarchy of Yoruba Obas.

During a meeting of traditional rulers in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, in February 2018, Oba Akanbi alleged that the Ooni of Ife ordered his bodyguard to push him (Oluwo) out of the way.

Ooni denied the allegation. The Ooni’s Director of Media, Moses Olafare, said “there was no altercation between Oluwo and anybody at that venue at all.” The matter came up at a meeting of the Osun State Council of Traditional Rulers in Osogbo, and is believed to have been resolved.


Oba Akanbi and Alaafin of Oyo

Oluwo confronted the Alaafin when Oba Adeyemi visited a town under Iwo to crown a new monarch without carrying Oluwo along in the process.

Oluwo told Alaafin that he should have informed him of his coming to Iwo area and that Alaafin should not be the one to crown the new monarch since he (Oluwo) is in charge of the area.

The matter was eventually resolved and Alaafin paid a visit to Oluwo in his palace in Iwo recently.


Oba Akanbi and the Oluwo-Oke

Oba Akanbi’s clash with the Oluwo of Iwo Oke, Oba Kadiri Adeoye, was on supremacy claim as Oluwo believed that he is senior to Oluwo-Oke but the Oluwo-Oke refused to concede. Iwo-Oke is another town founded by a sibling of the person that founded Iwo.


Oba Akanbi and Agboowu of Ogbaagba

The clash between Oluwo and the Agboowu of Ogbaagba, Oba Dhikrulahi Akinropo, was on land issue.

Ogbaagba is under Iwo and Oluwo cautioned all the traditional rulers under him not to sell their land because of the future, insisting that they should preserve the land for the future but some of the Obas said he cannot give them such directive.

During a peace meeting on the matter at the Zone 11 police headquarters in Osogbo, an argument ensued between the Oluwo and Agboowu which led to fisticuffs.

Because of this, the Osun State Council of Obas at a meeting presided over by Ooni of Ife suspended Oluwo from the council but Oluwo said they don’t have the powers to suspend him.

In the past five years, the reign of Oba Akanbi has been characterised with various controversies to the extent that there were calls for his dethronement at some point but the monarch is waxing stronger and glowing in the midst of his controversies as his subjects keep showering him with love.

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