By Gbenga Olarinoye, Osogbo
A new twist was yesterday introduced to the vacant stool of Ooni of Ife as Akui branch of Osinkola ruling house declared that only one ruling house existed in Ile-Ife. At a news conference in Osogbo, the spokeperson of the ruling house, Prince Adetowo Aderemi also faulted the claim that the Ooni stool was rotational.
His words “the 1957 legislation purports to have been made pursuant to powers delegated by the Governor. But there is no evidence of such delegation or indeed the proper person to whom the power to delegate is given. Curiously the only version which exists has been tampered with and altered in ink without the alteration being initiated thus rendering the document itself a nullity.
“Equally important, due process was not followed in that, for any declaration to be amended, the Governor or his delegate and the input of the Chieftaincy Committee must be there. The 1957 Declaration clearly does not reflect such an input in its preamble.
“There is a further practical problem in any event, the 1957 Declaration purports to state that the next ruling house after Osinkola would be Giesi but this was clearly not followed in 1980 when Ooni Sijuade from Ogboru was selected although Giesi contested with him as I have demonstrated. Even if rotation is valid which I shall show is not the case, once that order has been breached how can you return to it? Who would you return to?
“The 1980 Declaration is similarly beset with fundamental difficulties. There is no statement as to why this Declaration was made, given that the 1957 Declaration purportedly existed.
“There is nothing to show that the Declaration followed due process either in compliance with the procedure for making a declaration or for amending or making a new one. The criteria to be satisfied in amending or making a new declaration were not met. Indeed the basis for the alteration of the rotation which appears to be the only reason for the declaration was not stated. The declaration is very bare and is accordingly null and void and of no effect.
“There is another reason. For stating that this 1980 declaration is a nullity. This is because there is no evidence that the Chieftaincy Committee met to consider the declaration as required by law before it was signed by the Chairman of the Committee, Ooni Aderemi.
“There is no evidence of a notice of meeting in 1979 for this purpose or of the minutes of the meeting to that effect. Given the disquiet that has accompanied the signature of this document, and the lack of any cogent explanation for the amendment, one can only speculate. What is however legally clear is that the Declaration is a nullity and of no legal effect because of its failure to comply with law and due process.
“There is only one ruling house in Ile-Ife. This is the Lajodogun/Lajamisam Ruling House. Accordingly, in accordance with the various applicable Chiefs legislation there is no basis for an order of rotation to be prescribed. If such an order of rotation is set out, it is invalid, null and void and of no legal effect. There does not have to (any legal pronouncement on this because nothing built on nothing can ever amount to anything.
“There is no rotation in the selection of an Ooni. There has never been and there should never be. Even the Chieftaincy legislation implicitly recognises this when dealing with one ruling house_ No rotation is required in respect of such ruling house. This is historically important because of the paramouncy of ile-Ife to the Yoruba people. The best candidate from all the eligible Princes has always been chosen.
To unlawfully deprive candidates from three ruling houses on the basis of an illegal rotation policy would be to desecrate the popsion of Ooni. Rotation policy does not exist in Benin or in Ibadan. It does not exist in Sokoto, neither does it exist in Kano. Why should our own paramount ruler be different?
“There are two good reasons why the stool of Ooni is not subject to rotation, even assuming legislation can provide for such, which it cannot. Firstly, rotation, according to the relevant Chief’s legislation can only exist in circumsances where there is more than one ruling house.
There is in reality only one ruling house in Ile-Ife. Ooni Aderemi’s letter of 28 July 1930 conclusively proves this. Secondly, given the paramountcy of Ife, rotation which had never existed before, even up till 1980, despite the 1980 declaration, is an aberration.