Adewumi Ademiju, Ado- Ekiti
Crisis is brewing in Orin-Ekiti, Ido-Osi Local Government Area of Ekiti State over rotation of traditional monarchs among three families Famokiti, Olubunmo and Ajibewa claiming right to produce next monarch of the town five year after the demise of the immediate past Oba late Oluwole Olubunmo.
Many indigenes of the town, kingmakers and the women leaders rejected a 1999 Gazzette which mandates that a new monarch must be chosen from Ajibewa ruling house.
The Ajibewa family, the Gazzette insists, is the third of the other two royal families, Olunbumo and Famokiti who, according to the kingmakers, have for over 200 years been taking turns at having their sons installed as successive monarchs of the town.
The state government , acting on the dictates of the gazette , has ordered the kingmakers, led by High Chief Falua Francis Omodele, to nominate a candidate from the Ajibewa family to fill the
vacant Olorin royal stool in line with the extant law as soon as possible.
The directive came through the Deputy Governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, at a meeting
with the kingmakers and other community leaders in his office held recently to solve the four year old chieftaincy impasse rocking the town.
According to the Special Assistant (Media) to the Deputy Governor, Odunayo Ogunmola, government said the choice of the next king must be in line with the Olorin Chieftaincy Declaration, Gazette No 2.
Egbeyemi maintained that the state government is bound by the law which recognized Ajibewa as the third ruling house saying “no one can change it.”
Stressing that the state government has no interest whatsoever in who becomes the next monarch of the town, Egbeyemi warned that anybody who violates chieftaincy law in the state by presenting himself for kingship or conducting illegal installation and coronation risk going to jail, adding that the Gazzette which the government supports came into being over 20 years ago, long before the Kayode Fayemi’s government.
But in a protest by the people of the town led by the kingmakers, community leaders , women leaders and many youths, they rejected the dictates of the Gazzette insisting that the idea of a third royal family as indicated in it is a fraudulent arrangement by the Ajibewa family to disrupt the leadership of the community.
They stated that for over 200 years the kingmakers have been installing monarchs from families of Famokiti and Olubunmo to fill the Olorin stool, no one from the Ajibewa family has been installed as the family was never of royal blood but belong to a priest, Aworo ero, which translates to mean priest of Ero, a certain god being worshipped by the people.
Speaking on behalf of the people, kingmakers and leaders of the town, High Chief Falua warned the state government to desist from supporting what he described a coup against the traditional leadership of the community, insisting that forcing a man from the family of Ajibewa as monarch on the people would cause serious communal clash, epidemic as well as a pandemonium capable of causing bloodshed and chaos in the town.
He went down memory lane, saying: ” for over 200 years now, we have been having monarchs from only two families, Famokiti and Olubunmo becoming monarchs of this town. It has never ever been three. The two royal families were actually descendants of one man, Oba Olayisade who was the eight paramount ruler of Orin-Ekiti
” In 1978, before Honourable Justice Adeyinka Morgan, a ruling that confirmed that only the Famokiti and Olubunmo royal houses existed in the kingdom was given. It was documented on the Morgan Chieftaincy review commission and we as kingmakers have copies of this.
As a matter of fact, and by hierarchy of succession, the last Olorin was the 16th Olorin of Orin-Ekiti while the first Olorin was Apelua who came from Ile-Ife and was the founder or Orin-Ekiti.
Countering Chief Falua’s claims, an aged member of the Ajibewa family, Pa Samuel Ajibewa, 77, denied claims that the documents that generated the Gazzette was a fraud.
He said that the position of the Morgan commission of 1978 which recognised only two ruling houses of Famokiti and Olubunmo has been canceled in the Gazzette owing to an out of court settlement by the three ruling houses in 1995 which also led to a judgement of the court the same year.
Ajibewa who alleged that some people of the town have began demolishing their family houses in Orin-Ekiti, alerted the police to rescue them
His words: “We had challenged the Morgan commission’s declaration in court when the late Olorin, Oba Oluwole Olubunmo, was to be installed. The crisis had lingered from 1988 till 1998 when the Famokiti and Olubunmo families and the town pleaded with our family to settle out of court with a promise that once the late Oba was installed, the Kabiyesi and kingmakers would sit and make another declaration that would recognize Ajibewa as a third riling house.
” We agreed and the declaration was eventually done with the signature of the late head of Kingmakers, Chief Ige Eletin, and other kingmakers. We have documents confirming these claims including the one which the town wrote to our family on the agreement which was duly signed and stamped by the then regent of the town, Chief A. Ajayi who ruled before Oba Oluwole Olubunmo.
The old man also countered claims that Ajibewa were never of royal blood saying against claims that a certain former monarch of the town had two wives who gave birth to Famokiti and Olubunmo that now became two ruling houses, the monarch in question had had three wives, the third of whose son was Ajibewa.
Pa Ajibewa said: ” The three royal families of Famokiti, Olubunmo and Ajibewa belonged to one father who was a monarch that most successfully ruled Orin-Ekiti in his time. This was why we have our forbears erected their royal family houses inside the Orin palace and these houses are there up till date.
“Prince Abel Dada Ajibewa, alias Babaeolomo, who was my uncle was a very successful man, a carpenter and business guru. He was a very close confidant of Oba Adekolawolu Olubunmo, during his reign in the late 1960s and they lived in the same palace. My uncle was then like a second Oba in the palace but this cordial relationship upset many people then.
” When the Olorin from Olubunmo then died, my uncle was to succeed him but he couldn’t as he suddenly disappeared and was never seen till date. That affected our chance of getting the throne then.
Again, Anasin, is a chieftaincy title for women who are wives of the Oba, two of these Anasins have come from the Ajibewa family, Anasin is the head of women in the palace, she is a royal wife. Any child she bears could be a monarch. Because there was no rotation then, they would pick an Anasin from another royal house apart from where the Oba on throne comes from. When Oluwole Olubunmo was king, the Anasin was from Famokiti family, when Oba Adekolawolu Olubunmo was king, the Anasin was from Ajibewa family. If we didn’t come from a royal house why would we have had two Anasin from our family in the history of the town?
“Later in history, the great grand fathers of the Ajibewas became a King, he was Oba Adewunmi Ajibewa Idimehinsuwon and ruled for so long. To also confirm further that the three ruling houses of Famokiti, Ajibewa and Olubunmo have always been one, our farm settlement in Ijere area of Orin-Ekiti which binds us is still there up till now and has been there for so long. The Ajibewa family house is the biggest in the middle of the palace in Orin-Ekiti till date,” he said.
*Photo: Gov Fayemi