By Rotimi Ojomoyela
EKITI—WHAT promises to be a long drawn battle between the Governor Kayode Fayemi led administration in Ekiti State and the Council of Traditional Rulers has been ignited with the rejection of Alawe of Ilawe-Ekiti, Oba Adebanji Alabi by 16 prominent Obas, popularly known as Pelupelu or Alademerindilogun as the Chairman of the Council.
Alawe’s rejection stemmed from the claim of the pelupelu Obas that he was not one of them, the autochthonous ‘alademerindilogun’ and unfit to occupy the exalted office as the Chairman of the Council.
In a suit filed by the 16 Obas, at the state High Court, with suit number HAD/76/2019, the aggrieved traditional rulers are seeking the nullification of the appointment of the Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Oba Alabi, as their chairman.
Joined in the suit are Governor Kayode Fayemi (1st defendant), Attorney General of Ekiti State, Wale Fapohunda (2nd) and Oba Adebanji Alabi (3rd).
In the originating summon filed by Counsel to the 16 Obas and deposed to by Ajero of Ijero-Ekiti, Oba Joseph Adewale, on behalf of the 16 pelupelu Obas, in their case against Governor Kayode Fayemi; Ajero contended that “By composition, the Council of Ekiti State Traditional Council has Permanent and rotational members.
“The permanent and rotational members shall be appointed by the Governor from among the recognised traditional rulers In Ekiti State.
“There shall be a chairman for the council who shall be appointed by the Governor on biannual rotation among the Pelupelu Obas in the state”.
The Pelupelu/Alademerindilogun origin
Pelupelu started after the end of the Kiriji war in 1886.
It started in 1887 with 16 obas including the Deji of Akure and Owa Olobo of Obo Ayegunle Ekiti.
An adjustment was done when Akure decided to secede and form Akure kingdom through Ajapada. Obo too was ceded to Kwara.
So, the Elemure of Emure Ekiti, Attah of Ayede and Olomuo were screened by the Obas then and absorbed as Pelupelu.
The Ore of Otun-Mobaland, presided over the first meeting of the Ekiti Council of Obas otherwise known as Pelupelu, the body went into oblivion following the merger of Otun, Obo, Ishan, Ayede and Ikole with Northern Nigeria.
However, with the return of Ishan, Ayede and Ikole in 1909 to Ekiti division and eventual return of Otun in 1936, the Pelupelu was reconstituted.
When the Ekiti Native Authority was amended in 1946 and established in 1947, the president was to be rotated among the 17 Ekiti Obas, Oore was made the first president.
Bone of contention
Ajero, Oba Adewole, contended that lesser Obas can only be promoted traditionally, that is through the council of Obas, after thorough screening and strict consideration for the antecedents, rich historical and cultural backgrounds of that kingdom as they did in the case of Olomuo, Attah and Elemure.
But the state government, using political strength to promote Alawe, Olosi, Olojudo of Ido Ile, Oluyin and others is considered an aberration.
“Since the old Ondo state and now, only the 16 Alademerindinlogun were considered for council chair.
“Before the Kiriji war, all the pioneer 16 monarchs had fledging and thriving kingdoms with Ijero, Ado, Ikole leading in terms of structures and political administrations.”
These are, Ajero of Ijero, Alara of Aramoko, Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Ogoga of Ikere, Olomuo of Omuo, Attah of Ayede, Olomuo of Omuo, Onitaji of Itaji, Oloye of Oye, Arinjale of Ise, Ologotun of Ogotun, Onitaji of Itaji, Elemure of Emure, Alaaye of Efon, Owa Ooye of Okemesi, Olojudo of Ido Faboro, Elekole of Ikole and Onisan of Isan-Ekiti.
To the traditional rulers, anything outside the traditional status is unacceptable to them and this informed their latest court action to stop the Governor from inaugurating the Alawe as their chairman.
According to them, the appointment of Alawe of Ilawe, outside the 16 Obas called Alademerindinlogin to occupy the exalted seat of the Chairman of the traditional council, is a clear violation of the Ekiti State Chieftaincy Law.
Fayemi had recently appointed Oba Alabi as the Council Chairman to serve for two years following the expiration of the tenure of Oloye of Oye Ekiti, Oba Oluwole Ademolaju.
In the suit filed by their Counsel, Dr. B.A.M. Ajibade, SAN, on August 7, 2019, the Obas are seeking an interlocutory injunction restraining Fayemi from swearing-in Alawe as the Chairman of the Council.
Issues for determination by the claimants are as follows: whether the 1st defendant is empowered under Council of Traditional Rulers Law, Cap 15, Laws of Ekiti State 2012, to appoint the chairman of Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers on a bi-annual rotational basis from amongst only class of Obas constituted Alademerindinlogun/Pelupelu Obas of Ekiti State.
They also seek a declaration that (they) claimants are the only valid authentic Obas or traditional rulers under the classification of Alademerindinlogun qualified to be so appointed as Chairman.
Also requested was a declaration “that the 3rd respondent can’t be appointed as Chairman of the council in consonance to the Ekiti State Traditional Council Law.
“A declaration that the appointment of the 3rd defendant by the 1st was a flagrant violation of the law, unlawful, null and void, unjustifiable, illegal and unsustainable.
“An order nullifying the appointment of the 3rd defendant as the Chairman of the council of traditional rulers.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st defendant as chairman of the traditional council and other relevant orders as deem first by the court.”
By composition, the Council of Ekiti State Traditional Council has Permanent and rotational members.
The statute stipulated that: “The permanent and rotational members shall be appointed by the Governor from among the recognised traditional rulers in Ekiti State.
“There shall be a chairman for the council who shall be appointed by the Governor on biennial rotation among the Pelupelu Obas in the state.”
In a letter earlier written to the Governor on August 2 and signed by 15 Pelupelu Obas with the exception of Oore of Otun, Oba Adedapo Popoola, who traveled out of the country, the monarchs told Fayemi to reverse the action, saying a court had earlier struck out a suit filed by five monarchs, who were promoted to Pelupelu and seeking recognition of that status.
They argued that the promotion of Alawe, Olosi, Olojudo (Ido Ile), Arajaka and Oluyin to the Pelupelu rank by government, was an erosion of the tradition, saying all the appointments were done in violation of the tradition and existing laws.
They said they are opposed to the appointment and threatened not to attend the inauguration of Alawe as their chairman.
They also vowed not to attend any meeting of the council where he presides over.
The traditional rulers vowed: “We respectfully state that we would be creating a bad precedent to accept to sit under the chairmanship of Alawe as it would amount to a disregard for the tradition on earth and a sin against our forefathers.”
It’s a minor misunderstanding— Alawe
In his reaction, the Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Oba Adebanjo told Vanguard that it was a minor misunderstanding among Royal Fathers.
He said: “The 22 officially designated pelupelu Obas in the state are in a peace talk to resolve the differences, stressing that there was no cause for alarm.”
Govt playing the Ostrich
But it appeared the state government is playing the Ostrich on the matter for now, as there has not been any official reaction from Governor Kayode Fayemi to the action of the traditional rulers, who seem prepared for a showdown with the government.