Ogun assembly should respect the law, hands off investigation into our family farmland — Oba (Dr) Samson Adewale Adeniji

In this interview by Bankole Taiwo, Oniraniken of Iraniken, Sagamu, Oba (Dr) Samson Adewale Adeniji bared his mind on his recent appearance before the Ogun State House of Assembly on the allegation of using landgrabbers to forcefully take over expanse of farmland belonging to Olumeru family of Okerala, Kanuyi via Simawa, just behind Redemption Camp among other topical issues. Excerpts

Tell us briefly about yourself, Kabiyesi?

I am Oba (Dr) Samson Adewale Adeniji, Ogunlolu 1, the Oniraniken of Iraniken, Sagamu.  I was a foremost automobile engineer trained by Peugeot before I got to the throne in 1997.

What is the importance of Iraniken community in Sagamu and Remo land as a whole because this part of Sagamu where we have the Iraniken community is often called Makun, which is another community entirely?

Well, Iraniken is among the traditional Remo 33 towns just as it were from the beginning. Ikorodu and some environs which are now in Lagos State are also part of the original Remo towns of olden days because they are descendants of Ogatimehin, the son of Akarigbo Koyelu. Akarigbo has five ruling houses and Koyelu is one of them. To cut short a very long story, when Akarigbo left Iremo Quarters, Ile Ife, the source in search of a place where there is a beautiful pot with water springing out of it as where he would settle down and found his own community, Iraniken too from Iraye Quarters, Ile Ife, followed him as the Chief Priest of Eluku not as someone with a crown. However, after leaving Ile Ife and settling down at Offin while still looking for the beautiful pot, the culture at that time was that if you were caught stealing, your head would be cut off and stake atop a tree so that it could be seen by everyone, and serve as a deterrent to others, and it is the Chief Priest of Eluku, Iraniken that usually carried out the execution. So there was this unfortunate incident when the son of the reigning Akarigbo then, Otutubiosin was caught stealing and when he was brought before his father, the then Akarigbo, like he used to do for others, Akarigbo ordered his execution and Iraniken, the Chief Priest of Eluku carried out the order not knowing that Akarigbo was not pleased with the order, that he only passed the judgement to save his face thinking that those to carry out the execution would not do it when they were fully aware that the person concerned was the son of the Oba.

Akarigbo, who was not happy with how his son was killed later ensured the killing of Iraniken as a way of avenging the death of his son. This was said to have caused a lot of problem between Iraniken people and the Ofin as they were really not happy because of the wicked act of the Akarigbo.

As a way of punishing the Akarigbo, history said he was banished from the throne because it was said that if he was killed and his body touched the ground, the community that they want to establish would scatter. The punishment meted out to Akarigbo didn’t go down well with the Iraniken relatives who had thought that he should have been killed too, history said around 1590, the Iraniken people went back to Ile-Ife and met with the then reigning Ooni, Luwo Gbajida, who, after listening to them comforted them and gave them their own crown. After leaving Ile Ife for the second time, they resolved that they won’t go back to the Ofin people who at that time were around where we have the Rubber Plantation now near Ikenne Remo, so, history said they went towards Odosenlu around Ode Lemo but due to instruction from Ifa oracle, they  later came back to where we have the present Iraniken community which had been their farmland while they were with the Ofin people. However, when the beautiful pot was found and the people at Ofin were to move out and settle down to form the present day Sagamu, the Akarigbo then called on other Remo towns to join them so that in case of any external aggression, they could easily ward them off. It was this time that Makun came around, we are already on ground and we accommodated them giving them part of our lands through the directives of Akarigbo.

Why is it that status of Ewusi is now higher than Iraniken community which welcomed them?

It all boils down to politics. During the first republic, the late Sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo contested for the Premiership of the Western Region on Action Group platform while the son of the incumbent Akarigbo then, Prince Adeleke Adedoyin also contested for the same seat under National Council of Nigeria and Cameroun (NCNC). Awolowo actually won but he detected that some of the communities in Sagamu such as Iraniken did not vote for him but voted for his opponent while Makun gave him hundred percent. So, as a way of dealing with his perceived political enemies, he created two local councils, one for Makun and the other for Ofin. He also promoted the Ewusi to part 2 Obas, these are state recognised Obas while Iraniken was left at part 3, categories of local government recognised Obas until Otunba Gbenga Daniel, the former governor of the state upgraded those of us that were part 3 Obas to part two in 2004. Though, the military later abolished the council creations, and returned the whole of Sagamu to one local government, however, when Chief Bisi Onabanjo became the governor of the state, he recreated the local councils naming one after Makun and the other after Ofin..it was also during the tenure of Onabanjo that this road which used to be Abeokuta road was turned to Ewusi road… it’s all politics.

Recently, you were dragged before the House of Assembly for allegedly invading farmland of some families and even using the service of landgrabbers to take possession of the property that is never yours, can Kabiyesi shed more light on this?

Thank you, I was in my palace that very day, last year November when I got the invitation letter from the House of Assembly. The invitation letter also was accompanied with the petition written against me by Baale of Kanuyi/Idarika via Simawa, one Chief Adeyemi Sodiya. When I got the letter and I saw that it was written through Hon. Ademola representing Sagamu constituency 2 to the Speaker of the Assembly, I perceived political undertones in the whole matter. I was of the opinion that since the office of the Speaker of the assembly remained opened, the petitioner should have approached the office to drop the letter or why going through the lawmaker representing Sagamu Constituency 2, is it not to put the matter under some form of political influence?

What was in the letter?

The petitioner alleged that I had invaded Olumeru family farmland and was using a landgrabber, Sir K Oluwo and other thugs take possession of the land. The land in question is about 4511 acres at Okerala, Idarika/Kanuyi behind the popular Redeemed Camp. When I got the invitation, I was asked to appear before the assembly on November 12 but I wrote them to say I would be busy for that day and chose another date for them. I went on this very day and told the  lawmakers all that wasn’t clear to them. I let them understand that the land in question wasn’t a personal one but my family’s farmland and which the State High Court sitting in Sagamu in April, 2018 gave us judgement after nine years as the rightful owners. Some people have also approached the Court asking that this judgement should be set aside but court ruled again in January 2020 that the earlier judgement on the land stays. Even as we speak, there are about six pending suits over this same land. When I appeared before the assembly, they were asking that I should produce for them the survey of the land which is presently before the court as it’s being used as exhibit in the ongoing cases over the land. I have told them to apply to the court to have this document if they have chosen to continue with the independent enquiry. Whereas, the one who wrote the petition claiming ownership attached no documents to back up his claim and proof to be the owners indeed. This same person who sent petition to the House of Assembly is also having pending suit over this same subject matter against our family.

What do you now want, Kabiyesi?

The Ogun State House of Assembly should get their hands off this matter because the position of the law is that when a matter is pending before court of law, it must be left as it is otherwise any other actions taken is contemptuous and punishable under the law. The assembly is to make laws and not to adjudicate in a matter before the court. There is separation of powers. To tell you that there is something more to it or that someone is doing the bidding of another person over this matter, suddenly, the Ewusi of Makun got involved in this matter and when I demanded to see the letter the Ewusi of Makun had sent to the assembly to know what his interest could be on this matter, I was not given the letter. I was only told that the Ewusi is an interested party, can you imagine that? They just wanted to pitch me against Ewusi. My appeal in all of this is for our governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun to prevail on the assembly to hands off this matter. The land in question does not fall under government acquisition, it is a private property belonging to a family, so why will one arm of the government will now want to act in such a way as if they want to help transfer the land from A to B. This negates the provision of the law.

What is your take on the current crisis between herders and farmers? How can we get over this challenge?

Well, in Sagamu here we don’t have such problem because these Hausas and Fulanis who have been with us for a very long time usually bring in their cows with truck and keep them at Kara where our people usually go to buy them. Even when they want to conserve their resources and take these cows out for grazing, they have some bushes where they used to go before returning the cows to where they are kept. I think the problem is with those who use to trek about say from Kano to the South here with their cows. The animals usually feed on anything along the route while some of these herders have also taken to crimes yet they will be disguising as herders. I think it is high time open grazing is banned and ranching embraced. The federal government as a matter of urgency must rise up to fight very seriously this challenge of insecurity because it appears that no one is safe anymore.

There’s this bill before the Ogun State House of Assembly saying that traditional rulers should be allowed to be installed and buried according to their religious inclinations, what is your take on this?

The assembly is just being unnecessarily inquisitive in a matter that doesn’t concern them. Nobody is giving them such task to do, may be they just want to impress the people. You have not given us any constitutional role to play yet you want to destroy us. The bill is dead on arrival, it’s a wild goose chase because the bill is seeking to destroy traditional institution upon which Obaship is founded. After all, nobody will make you a king compulsorily, you must have accepted the way of the tradition before accepting the crown, so why the fuss? When you were being made king, was it in the name of Jesus or that of Muhammed that you were crowned? so what are you now saying? The mystery they want to unravel is to know the exact place where Oba is buried but they can’t. Oba, which is the traditional institution doesn’t die but joins his ancestors. Even, if they pass the law, who will enforce it because as soon as an Oba joins his ancestors, those who will perform the necessary burial rites will take over. In a nutshell, it’s an exercise in futility.

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