By Daud Olatunji
MANY people in Ogun State and the Yoruba nation in general, were caught unawares when the news of the emergence of new Akarigbo of Remoland filtered into the town. The surprise was anchored on the fact that some members of the Torungbuwa ruling house have taken other members to the court over the choice of the candidate of the family.
Vanguard learned that the aggrieved members of the ruling house who alleged that they were being sidelined took the matter to the court but were persuaded to settle the case out of court. Further findings showed that all the interested parties and candidates were given a level playing ground to test their luck. And indeed no fewer than 19 candidates contested for the stool of Akarigbo of Remoland; and eventually, the winner emerged.
News of the emergence
Prince Babatunde Ajayi from Oluyomade lineage of the Torungbuwa Ruling House, Sagamu, emerged as the new Akarigbo and Paramount Ruler of Remoland. The new Akarigbo was elected by seven king-makers through open ballot. Vanguard gathered that the election which was held among the seven king-makers took place at the Akarigbo’s palace, Sagamu, Ogun State.
The seven kingmakers were Chief Rasak Akinyemi Salami (Lisa), Chief Abdul Wasiu Awofala (Losi), Chief Taiwo Sule (Oluwo Odofin), Chief Lamidi Olaitan Adesanya (Apena), Chief Ogunyemi Tijani Adesina (Ogbeni Odi), Chief Kolawole Odumuyiwa (Balogun) and Olotu Omoba JAS Adekunle (Olotu Omoba Akarigbo).
A source at the palace said the election was supervised by the Secretary to the Local Government, Otunba Adewale Fakoya, who reportedly read the names of the 19 nominees to the king makers, requesting them to cast their votes for the candidate of their choice. Further findings showed that the result of the election revealed that Prince Adewale Ajayi garnered five votes out of seven to emerge as the new Akarigbo of Remoland while Prof. Babatunde Ogunmola got the remaining two votes.
Few weeks after the death of the last Akarigbo of Remo, Oba Adeniyi Sonariwo, in July 2016, there were calls for the installation of a new monarch to occupy the vacant stool. Generally, it was believed that the delay in the installation of an Akarigbo will not only stall meaningful progress for the people but would also diminish the sense of self-worth of the Remo people. Vanguard gathered that through the years, about five ruling houses have rotationally produced occupants of the stool. The present declarations now list five: Liyangu, Torungbuwa, Anoko, Koyelu and Owarodo in order of succession.
His emergence: It was gathered that, as expected, the Sagamu Local Government Area of Ogun State under whose authority the Akarigbo reigns, reportedly sent a public notice signed by the Head of Local Government Administration, Venerable Willie Ade Olugbebi, on behalf of the executive chairman dated March 17, 2017. The notice stated inter alia, “The public is hereby notified that a vacancy has occurred in Akarigbo of Remo Land Chieftaincy Title. It is the turn of Torungbuwa Akarigbo Ruling House to produce candidate(s) to fill the vacant stool.
“The head of Torungbuwa Akarigbo Ruling House is hereby required in line with section 15 and 16 of the Chiefs Law of Ogun State Nigeria, 2006, to convene a meeting of the family within 14 days from the date of this notice…The candidate(s) nominated will be presented to the king makers by the head of the ruling house through the secretary to the local government, Sagamu Local Government for the election of a suitable candidate as Akarigb-elect of Remoland.”
At the end of the election, Prince Babatunde Ajayi emerged the new Akarigbo with five votes, followed by Professor Babatunde Ogunmola with two votes, while 17 nominees had no vote. Chief Abdul Wasiu Awofala, Losi moved the motion to forward the name of the elected Akarigbo to the state government and was seconded by Balogun Chief Kolawole Odumuyiwa.
A statement released by the management of the Sagamu Local Government on the election read in part, “The result of the election revealed that Prince Adewale Ajayi emerged the new Akarigbo of Remo land with five votes, Prof. Babatunde Ogunmola had two votes while other 17 nominees had no vote.
The Secretary to the Local Government, Otunba Adewale Fakoya who supervised the election had read the names of the 19 nominees to the king makers, requesting them to cast their votes for the candidate of their choice. The SLG thanked the king makers and security agents for their support throughout the process of filling the vacant Akarigbo stool, praying for a peaceful, prosperous and progressive reign for the new Akarigbo. The Lisa of Akarigbo, Chief Abdul Rasak Akinyemi, lauded the present administration for its efforts at ensuring peaceful co-existence among the citizenry, praying for divine guidance for the newly elected monarch.
Speaking on the development, the State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Chief Jide Ojuko, confirmed the emergence of Babatunde Ajayi as the new Akarigbo, saying that the nomination and election process were peaceful just as the installation date would be announced very soon.
Few hours after the election and the emergence of the Akarigbo-elect, the State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, received a delegation of friends, chiefs and kingmakers from Remoland, led by the Paramount Ruler and Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, to formally present the newly elected Akarigbo of Remoland, Prince Babatunde Ajayi to the governor at the Governor’s office, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.
History of Akarigbo
Akarigbo is the head of all the kings in Remo land. The first Akarigbo was Igbodein, child of Aka, who was married to Onigbo. Onigbo was one of those that followed Obanta into Ijebuland originally. King Igbodein’s poetic praise (oriki) was: Owa Mojo-nmogun ofin. After he settled down at Oke Iyemule, he was quoted as saying: Ore mo! This was because he relocated to the new home in anger around the year 1450.
It was Aroyewun Akarigbo who moved the people out of Iyemule and relocated them to Orile Ofin. The other Akarigbos at this early time were Luyoruwa, Radolu, Koyelu, Muleruwa, Tewogbuwa, Arioko, Liyangu, Otutu bi Osun, Erinjugbotan, Faranpojo, Igimisoje (who was renowned for leading his people (in 1872) to settle in the place now known as Sagamu, on a land owned by a man named Bammowu, after the Makun war of 1862. Shortly after this settlement, the people of Imakun came back from their hamlet and found Akarigbo, Alara, and Alado.
After that, the Elepe, along with his friends, also arrived and settled. Shortly after, there was a dispute between Akarigbo and Elepe over crown and this resulted in war. It was during this battle that Akarigbo was quoted as saying: Bi n ko tile ju osandie, emi ni Oloja Remo. This new settlement, at that time, was called Sagamu because it was close to a river. After this era, Deuja became the Akarigbo in 1880.
In 1895, Oyebayo became the Akarigbo, and it was during his era that another war ensued between him and the Elepe (in 1903) over the ownership of a crown. This war was so fierce that then governor, the Hon. William MacGregor, had to intercede and mediate. During the mediation, then Ooni agba Olubuse was called as a witness and he gave a testimony to the effect that he did not know who the Elepe was, but he knew Akarigbo, and as a matter of fact, he received fifty pounds (£50) from the Akarigbo before giving him the crown in dispute. The governor eventually settled the rift and seized the crown from the Elepe.
It was later reported that one Mr. E.S. Ajayi (B.Sc.), on his return from studies abroad, affirmed that he personally identified the crown on display at a museum in London. It was not too long after this incident that there was a conspiracy against Akarigbo Oyebajo and he was removed from the throne and banished to Calabar in 1914. Then Oba Awolesi became the Akarigbo in 1916. It should be noted that Akarigbo Adedoyin I was enthroned in 1916 but his reign was short-lived.
It was in 1917 that the Akarigbo colluded with Awujale Ademolu and agreed to annex all land in Remo with Ijebu-Ode so both were unified. In 1924, the Akarigbo sent emissaries to the Ooni of Ife to request a crown for him. In response, the Ooni sent a crown through his emissaries. As the Ooni emissaries were entering Ijebuland, they stopped by the Awujale Ademolu’s palace to pay homage.
They told the Awujale the purpose of their journey, and on learning why, the Awujale became angry and promptly sent messengers to the Akarigbo, summoning him to come and explain the rationale behind his requesting a crown from the Ooni. Both Messrs H. D. Lamuth and T.B. Dew (then Counsel-General) chastised the Akarigbo for what he did and appealed to the Awujale to exercise patience and understanding. Then, the Ooni emissaries were sent back to Ile-Ife and Akarigbo returned to Remo to undertake appropriate rituals for his crowning ceremony.
In 1936, another dispute ensued and this led the Akarigbo to be quoted as saying: Mo kunle mo fi apo ko; mo duro owo mi ko to mo. This statement became so controversial that the government had to send the Hon. Martin Dale to investigate the matter. It was during this investigation that the Akarigbo retained a lawyer named Palmer. At the conclusion of the investigation, Mr. Martin Dale recommended that Remo should be separated from Ijebu-Ode.
Additionally, he also recommended that Remo should be paying four hundred pounds (£400) annually as land royalties to the government of Ijebu-Ode. This agreement was signed in 1937 and Mr. R.T. Minne was made the District Officer for Remo area.
However, on July 27, 1946, the Akarigbo, Oba Adedoyin I, as well as Laperu, Ologere, Ewusi, Odemo, Alaiye Ode, Alalisan, Onipara, Alakenne, Onirolu and Elepe, all gladly visited then Oba Awujale Gbelebuwa II, who received them warmly. After a long discussion, Oba Akarigbo rose to say that all the misunderstandings of the past have come to an end, because, as he put it, all of them are Ijebu, and Remo should not be different.
Then according to custom, kolanuts were broken into pieces and all of them took pieces and ate. Others at this august meeting were The Rev. W.F. Mellor, Attorney Adeleke Adedoyin, The Hon. T.A. Odutola and other palace Chiefs of the Awujale. Finally, on January 9, 1952, the Akarigbo announced publicly at the send-off ceremony of the Hon. A.F. Richards that he (the Akarigbo) would henceforth, refrain from being involved in any public discord or battle. This Akarigbo passed on, March 21,1952. A memorial service was held for him on April 20, 1952. Shortly after his passage, his son, Prince Adeleke made himself the Akarigbo, but was promptly removed by the people through an order of the court.