By Dayo Johnson
Akure – ANOTHER round of trouble is brewing between the Igbo community and a paramount traditional ruler, the Deji of Akureland, Oba Aladetoyinbo over the alleged plan by him to install a rival Eze Ndigbo for them against their wishes.
The Igbos alleged that the Oba was planning to install an Asiwaju of Igbo and or Onyendu as against the interest of Igbos within Ondo State.
They said they would resist the plan with the last drop of blood in their veins. They see the latest move by the Oba as a deft move to install his stooge as their leader to spite the original holder of the title of Eze Ndigbo who had a face off with him over a supremacy tussle last year.
Oba Aladetoyinbo sometime last year had a supremacy battle with owner of the title of Eze Ndigbo in Akureland, Gregory Ileohika which led to ill feelings between the Igbo community and the host community.
The genesis of the crisis followed the leadership tussle within the Spare Parts Dealers Association in Mojere market, located in Ilesha Garage area of the town which is regarded as the biggest spare parts market in the state and largely dominated by the Igbos.
The Deji of Akure waded into the matter by calling the leaders of the two sides involved to a meeting in the palace but the Oba’s representatives sent to the Igbo traders were reportedly manhandled.
Consequently, the Deji invited the Eze Ndigbo as the head of Igbo indigenes in the land to his palace to resolve the crisis but the Eze Ndigbo reportedly was said to be busy to honour the invitation and when he eventually showed up he was in full regalia of a traditional ruler, wearing beaded crown and other kingly paraphernalia, while he was also said to have displayed and exhibited arrogance on arrival at the meeting.
He was alleged to have addressed the Oba rudely which infuriated the palace aides and the Council of Chiefs who were in attendance while the youths protested against the attitude of the Iloehike but the Deji cautioned the youths against manhandling the Igbo acclaimed traditional ruler. The palace aides were alleged to have manhandled him over his reported disrespectful attitude to the Oba.
He was reportedly whisked away by security agents to avoid the wrath of youths in the palace.
Disrespectful attitude to the Oba
Following the maltreatment, the Igbo traders across the state capital, in solidarity with their traditional head decided to close all shops for three days to register their displeasure over the treatment meted out to Eze Ndigbo, by marching through the streets protesting the abolishing the Eze Igbo traditional title by the Deji and questioning his power to dethrone their leader installed by them and not Akure indigenes.
But Iloehika denied displaying arrogance towards the Deji’s stool, explaining that the Oba invited him and he honoured the invitation only to be manhandled by the youths who were mobilized to the palace to embarrass him.
“ The youths tore my beads and removed my crown. They attempted to beat me but the police officers at the palace rescued me,” he said.
The Deji however found allies in other Obas in the state under the state Council of Obas who were warned that. If they failed to rise and condemn the act by the Igbo leaders, it may be the turn of any of them tomorrow.
Consequently, they rallied round the Deji and pronounce an outright ban of the title and announced the removal of the. owner of the title.
Also, sensing that if the crisis between the Oba and the Igbos was not nipped in the bud it may escalate to a further break down of law and order, the state government waded in and the matter was settled but both parties still had reservations.
Months after the sledge hammer was weilded by banning the title and removing it’s owner, it seems the Deji is yet to forgive Ileohika of his affront.
Vanguard gathered that the Oba was said to have found some friends amongst few “disgruntled” Igbo leaders who are said to not be in support of Ileohika leadership and would like to see the back of him.
Such Igbo leaders, according to reliable source have pitched their ten with the Oba to finally nail the coffin of Ileohika by a rival Eze Ndigbo under another nomenclature.
However, majority of the Igbos in the town have risen in support of Ileohika insisting that they would fight with their last drop of blood if the Oba carries out the plan. They raised an alarm last week calling on security agencies in the state to wade in so as to prevent breakdown of law and order.
Their spokespersons under the auspices of Concerned Igbo indigenes in Akure, Messrs James Chukwujekwu and Samuel Maduka said that the plan would disrupt the existing peace in the state capital.
According to them, “if care was not taken the unpopular decision would pitch the community against their host community and the traditional ruler.
Chuckwujekwu and Madula said Sir Gregory Iloehika has been elected as Eze Ndigbo by the entire Igbo communities in the state since August 2011 and any attempt to appoint another Leader for the community would lead to a crisis.
“We wish to reiterate that the presence of the Igbos which led to the emergence of the Igbo association called Ndigbo has long been in existence in Ondo State for over nine decades.
“It has been the practice of the Igbo community to democratically elect who is to lead them at a point in time.
“Iloehika the incumbent Eze Ndigbo of Ondo State was elected by all the Igbos after he won a validly contested poll on the 10th day of August, 2011 and based on the practice and procedure of the Igbos within the state he was declared the winner of the election and subsequently installed by the Ndigbo in the State.
“We are not unaware that some anti-democratic elements and their allies mapped out series of antics to forestall the long lasting peace which the Igbos are known and recognised for within and outside the state.
“However, there are speculations that some faceless characters are presenting one of them to the Deji of Akure land to be installed Asiwaju of Igbo and or Onyendu as against the interest of the entire Igbos within Ondo State.
“We are advising the Deji-in-Council and the relevant authorities to be wary of these characters whose intention is to truncate the existing peace enjoyed by both the Igbos and hosting communities in the state.
“We are using the opportunity to call the attention of the relevant security agencies and Deji-in-Council to stop any attempt that can lead to breach of the existing peace in the state and Akure in particular.”
They added that the Igbos have always demonstrated their loyalty to the Deji and the government of the state and would continue to do so at all material times.
However, few days after the concerned Igbo indigenes raised the alarm, the Oba in response however insisted that the conferment of any honorary title on anyone (indigene and non-indigene) within Akure Kingdom, remains the sole right and prerogative of Oba Aladelusi.