By Ola Ajayi
IN times past, palaces of kings in Yorubaland were sacred places where social vices were abominable. Apart from the respect attached to the traditional institution, the absolute power of kings was like a doubled-edged sword. There was a belief then that if you desecrate the traditional institution, you are only incurring the wrath of the gods. So, the kings had the power of life and death. Fighting, weeping and other forms of violence were forbidden in these hallowed palaces.
When kings sneeze, every living thing in the environment should shiver. The kings possessed this power until the advent of the colonialists who whittled down their powers considerably. Since then, they still roar like lions, but they lack the power of the lions. So, when some hoodlums invaded the palace of the Olubadan of Ibadanland, His Majesty, Oba Saliu Adetunji on Monday, many people wondered how the gunmen had the effrontery to invade the palace which is located at Popoyemoja which is known for its notoriety.
Just last year, the place was one of the places where activities of One Million Boys thrived. Besides, the place is so choked up that it would be difficult for anybody who perpetrates evil to escape. On the fateful day, well-wishers of nominees that the Olubadan wanted to install as community leaders were already at the palace waiting for the time the chieftaincy titles would be conferred on them. Music was blaring from traditional entertainers at the palace of the king.
Among those waiting for the monarch to see them were the former governor of the state, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, former secretary to the state government, Mr. Sarafadeen Alli, Senator Olufemi Lanlehin who is the Bamofin of Ibadanland. While the music was on, trouble had erupted outside the gate. Though, there were sounds, the noise from the music did not allow people within the palace to hear. It was some minutes before 12 noon.
Suddenly, the gunmen who came from the other end of the road in a black Toyota Sienna car jumped out of the car and released volleys of bullets. The sound of the gunshot was so deafening that it made people in the area to run in different directions.
Residents who were in front of their houses dashed inside in lightning pace and jammed their doors. By this time, some newsmen, who were in front of the palace jumped inside the drainage for safety. Other newsmen who were at the back just chose the easiest option of running backward to avoid the rampaging gunmen who were firing into the air.
This chaotic atmosphere lasted about 10 minutes. The gunmen did not wait. According to a source who said he was peeping through the window, one of the attackers fell off the car. But, to avoid being caught, he fired gunshots continuously to prevent some men running after them from catching up with him. The car of the hoodlums waited for him and he regained his balance and jumped into the car.
The hot lead shattered the windscreen of Alli’s car. The black SUV land cruiser marked LAGOS-EPE 447 ER and a black Honda car were vandalised. Sarafadeen Alli, Asiwaju Babatunde Yusuf and Adedokun Ayobami escaped the gunmen’s bullets. Also Honda civic car marked Lagos GGE 690 CU belonging to Princess Iyabo Adeyemi, the elder sister to Ladoja’s wife, was vandalised.
Though it was said that the hoodlums merely wanted to scare people away from the palace, a close look at Alli’s car which was riddled with bullets seemed to negate that assumption. He and two others with him in the car were lucky not to have been hit by a deadly shot that perforated the side window and chopped off the upper part of the front seat. Also, there was a bullet mark on the left side of the palace though it could not penetrate the wall. A source who was in the palace said the attackers were five in number. The source said he saw how the men were brandishing AK-47 rifles and pump action guns.
Feuding parties trade accusations: Since the incident happened, the gladiators in the on-going hullabaloo over the review of 1959 Olubadan chieftaincy declaration and installation of new kings have been pointing accusing fingers at each other.
Ladoja refers to petition by new Obas: Former governor of the state, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, was the first to speak. He said, “the hoodlums that just invaded the palace can be said to have been engineered by some people. I don’t understand why people refuse to follow the normal procedure. If you think that something is wrong, go to court. There is nobody that has got the exclusivity of violence. But we normally prefer to do our things in a legal way. The courts are there. They should try to go to the court if they feel that what Olubadan is doing is illegal.”
New kings move to stop installation of Baales: Led by His majesty, Oba Lekan Balogun, the new kings, having got the inkling of the installation, had written a petition distancing themselves from the nomination of the candidates which they claimed should have the input of Oba-in-Council before Olubadan could install them.
APC points accusing finger at Ladoja: The All Progressives Congress in Oyo State said the festering crisis was due to the inordinate ambition of former Governor Rashidi Ladoja who it claimed was taking advantage of the situation to broaden his personal interest. The party through its public relations officer, Olawale Sadare, said: “The Monday violence at Popoyemoja was a script written by Ladoja and his supporters to either whip up sentiment against the government and other members of the Olubadan-in-Council or deal with some characters within the ill-conceived political re-alignment who could stand on Ladoja’s way towards taking full control of the PDP. But we would like to urge the relevant security agencies to do the needful and unravel the mystery surrounding the unfortunate incident.”
Ajimobi warns trouble makers: In his reaction, Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, through his Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Mr. Yomi Layinka, directed all security agencies to ensure that those involved and responsible are swiftly arrested, interrogated and brought to book. Ajimobi said he would not do anything to disrespect the traditional institution in any part of the state, noting that he would do all within his powers to accord the hallowed palaces of the monarchs the respect and dignity they deserve.
Ibadan warlords, traditionalists curse trouble makers: Traditionalists comprising Afobaje Labosinde of Ibadanland, Chief Wahab Popoola; Aboke of Ibadanland, Chief Ifasola Ifamapowa; Olori Alagba of Ibadanland (head of the masquerades), Chief Ojetunde Akinleye; and Oluwo of Ibadan, rained curses on whoever was behind the violence.
Progress of Ibadanland
The Aboke of Ibadanland invoked the spirit of the ancestors to deal with any individual or group threatening the peace and working against the progress of Ibadanland and Oyo State in general.
The chairman of the Council of Recognised Mogajis of Ibadanland, Chief Asimiyu Adepoju said that the incident at the palace could only have been masterminded by disgruntled politicians trying to bring back violence and cause disaffection between the Olubadan of Ibadanland and the Governor of Oyo State.
Police speak: To ensure peace reigns in the city, the Assistant Inspector- General of Police, Zone 11, Mr. Agboola Oshodi-Glover visited the monarch to assure him that security had been beefed up around the palace. He also promised the king that police would pursue and get the culprits.