The Olubadan Chieftaincy Affair
By: Dr Omololu Olunloyo
A former governor of Old Oyo State and former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Dr Omololu Olunloyo, in this piece, addresses what he calls erroneous impressions and misconceptions on the Olubadan chieftaincy and succession, including the mounting tension from the Seriki line on the Olubadan stool.
In the last few weeks, before Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade I died, there has been a rash of skirmishes involving the Olubadan and some High Chiefs who were promoted in Ibadan. This actually amounted to an unnecessary clash between the Executive Governor of Oyo State on the one hand and the Olubadan and the nine promoted chiefs on the other. The clash culminated in a ‘settlement’ effected by an ad hoc body many of whom comprised the so-called committee of Ibadan Elders, headed by our respected and frank Ambassador Olusola Sanu. The clash was something of an unnecessary damp squib in view of the extant revised Laws of Oyo State, Cap 28 Section 16, which states as follows:
“Where a vacancy occurs in a recognised chieftaincy other than a ruling house chieftaincy and a declaration has effect with respect to that chieftaincy, a qualified person shall be nominated, selected and appointed in accordance with the customary law relating to that chieftaincy within thirty days of the occurrence of the vacancy.”
If the Governor had got competent advice, the meeting should have, if necessary at all, lasted only ten minutes. The positions of the High Chiefs are non-ruling house chiefs, unique to Ibadan and as at that time, the Governor and Government published on page 40 of ‘The Nation’ a very far-reaching advertisement. It is a matter for regret that the Director of Chieftaincy Affairs, Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Oyo State, goofed in his advice to the Governor.
A cursory reading of Section 16 reveals that each of the chieftaincies had existing approved and registered declaration which are indeed formalisation of the customary law and practice pertaining to the chieftaincies. The Governor has no power under the law to nominate any one for promotion. The Governor has no power under the law to select. The Governor has no power to appoint. Those who are vested with these three powers are clearly stated in the individual relevant extant declaration. Thus, to query or interfere with these three processes amount to acting ultra vires. The only power the Governor could possibly have is approval.
Therefore, the late Olubadan and the nine High Chiefs have no case to answer and the Governor was misled and inadequately advised. Thus, it is, that the aggressive advice was an unnecessary threat, likely to lead to a breach of the delicate peace that has attended these matters since the promulgation of the Chiefs Law (Cap 19) as it then was on 20th June 1957 and all the cumulative or any amendment made thereto to date. The episode was most unfortunate as it was uncalled for and without precedence in Ibadan history. The seriousness of the government error is underlined by the advertisement being copied to the Commissioner of Police, Department of State Security (DSS) and the Permanent Secretary (Health) all of which were unnecessary, embarrassing, unlawful and uncalled for.
One corollary of my observations is the urgent need for the Governor to appoint Commissioners and Permanent Secretaries, as well as the Attorney-General, the last of whom holds three positions simultaneously under the 1999 Constitution, to wit, Attorney-General, Commissioner for Justice and the Chief Law Officer of the state, vide Section 195 (1) of the Constitution.
For completeness, the issue of medical clearance of Chiefs is not explicitly stated overtly in the constitution. A careful reading of Section 189 in its entirety and in particular Section 189 sub-section (1)(b), subsection (2), (3), (4)(a and b) refers. These are overt and explicit legislations which pertain to the Governor and Deputy Governor. They, of all people, must not import into the constitution what is not there in respect of the Chiefs. Indeed, the nearest approximation as to Chiefs is contained in Cap 28 Section 14(2). A careful reading of Sections 14(2)(a) and (b) refer to the matter of health but does not legislate about the explicit manner of verifying various forms of infirmity and procedure of establishing same. The officials of the Ministry of Chieftaincy Affairs are, therefore, encouraging the Executive to legislate and thus acting ultra-vires.
There is clear separation of powers in our type of Presidential Constitution. Again, from an empirical and practical point of view, the content of the advertisement on page 40 of “The Nation” of Tuesday, January 5, 2016 is without precedence in the Gerontocracy that has typified Ibadan Chieftaincy System since its earliest day. Anyone who is averse to the gerontocratic characteristic of the Ibadan System should refer to Chief Theophilus Adeleke Akinyele’s exquisite book: “Ibadan Traditional System: Reform and Regeneration.” Many people ask about the important AKINYELEs in Ibadan. One is the aforementioned civil service guru, an accountant, budget expert and classic scholar. Before him comes Olubadan Akinyele of Alafara, author of Iwe Itan Ibadan. He was a co-founder of the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC). He, it was, who when he became the Olubadan signed the curious double vacancy clause into the top of the Balogun line, which permits the Seriki of the day to move to Ekerin Balogun. This transition was successfully made by one man only so far, namely Chief Ogunwusi in 1964. He died six months later. It is doubtful whether what Olubadan Akinyele signed into law truly represents Ibadan Customary Law or practice or even whether he was honest about this contrivance. Yet another famous Akinyele is the founder of Ibadan Grammar School, my father’s alma mater. He is Archdeacon Alayande’s father in-law. His famous school was founded on 31st March 1913. Yet a fourth famous Akinyele is F. L. Akinyele Olunloyo, who with his sister, Yejide, were the first two pupils to go to the first school, St David’s Kudeti, Ibadan in 1853. So much for historical clarification and diversion.
It must be concluded that the fly-in-the-ointment of a trivial misunderstanding between the Olubadan-in-Council and the Governor and Government that what concerns the government is not the nomination, selection and appointment in those High Chieftaincies as much as forwarding the matter thereafter to the Governor perhaps via the Commissioner for APPROVAL. The rumoured dual ‘long’ meeting was due to insufficient understanding or misunderstanding of the law as it is. If the Executive is dissatisfied with anything in the law or its procedural activation, it must not be tempted or advised in effect to legislate. It must consult the people of the area involved, arrange a referendum or similar consultation and thereafter send a bill (executive or private member’s) to the House of Assembly to sort out the matter.
I have a claim to some solid authority on these matters. I started holding public office at the dawn of my adult life. For instance, I have solved many a chieftaincy riddle or conundrum since 46 long years ago. The ones of epic proportions were those of the Alaafin of Oyo, Balogun of Ijebu-Ode, Owa of Idanre, Owa of Igbara Oke, etc. I worked with fine civil servants who were versed in the Chiefs’ Law, the most outstanding ones being Chief Akingbade, Chief Abinusawa, Chief A. A. K. Degun with whom I had a productive synergy. I was the one who, with the permission of General Robert Adeyinka Adebayo, first released to the public, all the Chieftaincy Declarations in Western Nigeria and caused them to be published, nearly seven hundred (700) of them published and sold by the indefatigable Government Printer of the day, Mr Somefun. Each declaration for each of the Local Government Area was sold for five shillings. That was the first time they were released to the public. They were kept under tight security deliberately and many of them contained mischievous and deliberate manipulations by the government of the day. Indeed, the secrecy under which they were kept is enshrined in Section 8 of the Chiefs’ Law which reads thus:
8 (1) Every declaration of a committee of a competent council approved by the Governor and every declaration made by the Governor shall be registered and retained in safe custody by such officer of the department of the Government of the state as the Governor may direct.
(2) No declaration shall come into effect until it is so registered.
They were all under lock and key in the innermost recesses of the Cabinet Office. I was the first to prise them open after the intermediate disingenuous debacle called the Obileye Commission of Enquiry on the Alaafin Chieftaincy which was entirely rejected by Edict. The Secretary to the Commission, a senior officer in the Ministry of Justice was a certain Michael Ogundare Esq, a man of rare integrity. The terse minority report was only three or four lines recommending that the whole exercise be de novoed. The rest is history. Michael Ogundare reached the Supreme Court and left his footprints in cases like Resource Control and littoral extent of each state. He was worth his weight-in good. Those were the days of excellence.
After perusing the Alaafin of Oyo and Oyomesi declarations, I made a bee-line for the Olubadan and the High Chiefs declarations. I shall not dwell here on the malversation contained in the Alaafin of Oyo declaration, especially the phrase “without reservation” concerning the list of candidate or candidates to be submitted by the family head to the Basorun of Oyo, head of the Kingmakers, by Babayaji Maradesa Sanda, a man of conscience and great integrity and a gem of Yoruba history. The next declaration shocked me to the bone marrow. I was expecting a simple linear alternating system of candidates who can aspire to and access the renowned throne of the Olubadan of Ibadan. I advised many of my successors to rectify this declaration and do something about its contents, which many of the last five Governors – Ajimobi, Alao-Akala, Ladoja, Ishola and even Lam Adesina, did not heed.
It therefore comes to me as a surprise that there are so many ‘unusual’ features which no one has tried to correct so as to make it conform to the spirit of Ibadan! I suggest to the perspicacious reader to cast his mind to the Adegoke Adelabu saga with ‘Olubadan’ Akinyo who ‘reigned’ for three days of tension. Nevertheless, Akinyele became the recognised Olubadan, but how did he arrive at the Seriki-Ekerin Balogun confluence and the utterly meaningless simultaneous death or vacancy condition. Physicists/mathematicians find the idea of simultaneous events difficult when probed rigorously in the famous Einstein’s Theory of Relativity! The Ibadan system has eleven kingmakers chosen from the four extant lines. Whether we like the idea of Seriki or not, he is one of the statutory kingmakers for the position of Olubadan of Ibadan. So is Iyalode. The remaining are chosen four and five respectively from the two main lines. The ordinary man in the street does not know that the system is not a linear straightforward alternating system. Again, there is overtaking and supersession built into it. Chief Lamidi Adedibu of blessed memory, whose last birthday and funeral orations I gave at a fee, nearly became Olubadan by exploiting legal loopholes written into the law in black and white. The most senior chief in the line may not be chosen and the field of choice can go as far as the Ekerin, namely four steps down the ladder etc. There are so many other incongruities which we must sit down and rectify.
Dr Busari Adebisi, my ertswhile Commissioner for Education, was Secretary to the Government to Governor Ishola when I found out that the government had presented a defective certificate to Olubadan E. A. Adeyemo. I presented the error to him with clinical transparent exactitude. The old man who was my father’s assistant, deputy and successor as Secretary/Treasurer of Ibadan Administration would have been embarrassed had it not been for my timely intervention. It was a technical point which rendered the paper they handed to him worthless. Dr Adebisi saw to it that the Military Governor or administrator of the day, Colonel Sode, retrieved the faulty one and replaced it with a neat accurate one.
So I now come to Governor Ajimobi’s recent errors. The second term Executive Governor of the state was reported in the Nigerian Tribune of January 27, 2016 as follows:
A “The beauty of the Olubadan institution makes it unique in the whole of Nigeria. It is the only institution where we know the next 20 or 50 kings. We don’t fight over it.”
B “Therefore we feel it is a rancour-free succession programme, where everybody is qualified to be there. So we know the next to the next, in fact, we know the next 100th Olubadan.”
Both statements are untrue.
Why I have taken a tour-de-force stance at correcting my brother Isiaka’s grave errors is not due to what he said but where he said it. He was talking to President Muhammadu Buhari. Fortunately, our razor-sharp legal guru of an Acting President and Substantive Vice President, Professor Osinbajo, would easily unravel every knot drafted into our Chiefs’ Law, Cap 28 (2000) of Oyo State. It is a very good thing to have a Vice President seriously committed to the Rule of Law. We cannot tolerate today any Chike Offodile type of Decree maker, backdating death sentences or punishing journalists for publishing something false or merely embarrassing. Here comes the declaration of the Olubadan of Ibadan:
DECLARATION MADE UNDER SECTION 4(3) OF THE CHIEFS LAW, 1957, OF THE CUSTOMARY LAW REGULATING THE SELECTION TO THE OLUBADAN OF IBADAN CHIEFTAINCY
(i) Succession to the Stool of the Olubadan shall be in strict rotation between the following major chieftaincy lines:
The Olubadan Line;
The Balogun Line.
(ii) The Order of rotation in which the respective chieftaincy lines are entitled to provide candidates to fill successive vacancies in the chieftaincy shall be:
(a) The Olubadan Line
(b) The Balogun Line (present ruling chieftaincy line)
(iii) There are eleven kingmakers as under: Otun Olubadan, The Balogun, Osi Olubadan, Otun Balogun, Ashipa Olubadan, Osi Balogun, Ekerin Olubadan, Ashipa Balogun, The Iyalode, Ekerin Balogun, Seriki
(iv) The person who may be proposed as candidate by the line whose turn it is to fill a vacancy in the Office of Olubadan shall be the most senior chief in that line.
Provided that the most senior chief in that line may be superseded by a junior chief if such senior chief is found to be disqualified as a candidate under the provisions of section 10(2) of the Chiefs Law, 1957 (now Section 14(2))
And further provided that:
(a) The field of selection for the purpose of the foregoing proviso shall not extend beyond the Ekerin Olubadan on the Olubadan Line and the Ekerin Balogun on the Balogun Line;
(b) Any chief from any of those embraced in proviso (a) above found guilty by a meeting of the Chiefs who are traditional members of the Council (at which the nominated candidate shall not be present) of disregard of, or disrespect to the position or authority of the Olubadan, or of a Senior Chief under Native Law and Custom may not be eligible for nomination.
Disregard or disrespect shall mean acts of contumely; refusal to pay necessary customary obeisance and flouting of superior customary authority.
(c) The method of selection is as follows:
The line whose turn it is to present a candidate shall nominate a candidate for the chieftaincy at a meeting of the kingmakers, to be summoned by the most senior chief of the chieftaincy line not presenting the candidate.
The kingmakers shall, if satisfied as to the candidate’s right of succession declare him appointed.
Provided that should a dispute arise among the line presenting the candidate, the majority decision of the kingmakers shall be final.
The Declaration of Native Law and Custom dated 19th August, 1946 made by the Ibadan Native Authority regarding the appointment of a new Olubadan and Seniority of Chiefs and, later amended on 16th January 1950, is hereby revoked.
Made by the Chieftaincy Committee of the Ibadan District Council which has been designated as the competent Council by Western Region Legal notice 22 of 1959, and signed by the Chairman and Secretary of the Committee this 8th day of August, 1959.
Chairman, Chieftaincy Committee, Ibadan District Council
Secretary, Chieftaincy Committee, Ibadan District Council
Approved this 26th Day of October, 1959
D. S. Adegbenro,
Minister of Local Government
Registered this 28th Day of October, 1959,
J. O. Afolabi,
For Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government
THIS DECLARATION IN ESSENCE IS STILL IN FORCE TODAY. THEREFORE, WITH THE CHIEFS LAW AND ITS SUBSIDIARY DECLARATION, NO ONE ON EARTH KNOWS UNDER THE LAW WHO IS THE NEXT OLUBADAN, NOT TO TALK OF 50 OR 100 OLUBADANS FROM NOW. Quod Erat Demonstandum!
However, what a travesty of codification of our famed customs. This declaration shocked and still shocks me. We often publicly boast of our system being so transparently straight forward and rancour free. We often claim that it excludes leap-frogging or indeed overtaking. I belong to a school of thought that we should collectively get this allegedly streamlined procedure vetted and honestly streamlined once and for all. I do not belong to a school of thought which is rumoured to be floating around what I consider a very outlandish idea of evading or avoiding the currently built-in gerontocracy by retiring ‘old’ or ‘vegetating’ Olubadan on the throne. Olubadan Kobiowu got in and left just as quickly, at 55, quite astonishingly, Olubadan Odulana has died at 101. I am certain a completely blind man became Olubadan in the last fifteen years despite Section 14 (2). That is the joke of the century.
Perhaps, the number of rungs on the ladder could be shortened. The Attorney-General of Oyo State should exhume the originals of this document from the cabinet division of the office of the Governor of Oyo State and satisfy himself among other things, even as to the validity of the originals. It is my hope, for example, that the apparent absence of the signature of the Secretary of the Chieftaincy Committee of the Ibadan District Council, the designated competent council as of the time of the formal construction of the declaration, does not vitiate the content.
This declaration is not only the only issue surrounding the ascent to the throne of the Olubadan. There are some controversies surrounding the route aspiring candidates could take to access the coveted throne. Any serious thinker on this issue must be reminded that there were at a time as many as five lines – (1) Balogun line (2) Otun Olubadan line (3) Seriki line (4) Sarumi line and (5) Iyalode line.
The truth is that up until 1946, the Balogun line alone supplied the political head of Ibadan whatever the name. Things were liberalised to permit the alternation, many of us here today have come to take for granted. This is no surprise at all, because of the military camp antecedents of Ibadan.
All reasonable Ibadan citizens would probably agree with me immediately that the contents of this declaration do not faithfully represent the custom and social philosophy of Ibadan. It does not represent the much touted exceptionally straightforward, transparent procedure unique to Ibadan and in every way unlike most of Yoruba towns. There was a rumour a couple of years back, precisely some seven years ago that Chief Lamidi Adedibu wanted to exploit the historically weird loopholes in the declaration in order to bludgeon his way to the throne of Olubadan. I think, probably without knowing, a top Nigerian journalist, Sam Omatseye, had written a satirical article, entitled: ‘Oba Lamidi Adedibu’ in a national daily. The vital vacancy arose in 2007 and was filled by the last holder of the post. Sam’s article was not surrealist. It was a vivid legal threat.
Other errors in Governor Ajimobi’s reported speech to the President went thus:
“The Seriki line started during the period of Chief Akinloye and it has been decided even long ago that to be, after the Seriki line, you have to join (the Balogun line) if there are concurrent deaths of both the Ekerin and Ashipa, then you can qualify as Seriki to be Ekerin.”
This is a travesty of errors, to say Seriki line started during the period of Chief Akinloye, that is in 1976, is pitiful wrong because Ibikunle of Ayeye fame was Seriki in 1851 and promoted to Balogun in that same 1851. Moreover, Ajobo was Seriki in 1870 and promoted to Balogun. Mosanya was Seriki and promoted to Ashipa Balogun. Ajayi-Osungbekun was promoted from Seriki to Balogun, etc. In post-independence civil rule, to wit, 1964, Ogunwusi was the Seriki immediately before Akinloye and he successfully crossed to Ekerin Balogun, but unfortunately died six months later. The rest of his journey to the throne was thus aborted.
We don’t know the next Olubadan after the Olubadan-designate, High Chief Saliu Adetunji. Nobody can know the next 50th or 100th Olubadans. There are as many as six obstacles on the path of the person nominated as contained in Section (iv) of the extant declaration of 1959, which remains un-amended. This shows the brilliance and adroitness of the constructors of the law, particularly Chief Awolowo and Chief Rotimi Williams. The next Olubadan must meet the requirements of the law. He must be so recommended by his line and selected by the kingmakers. Approval by the Governor completes the process.
What Governor Ajimobi told the President is not the law of the land. There are no laws without checks and balances. Rumours are rife even today in Ibadan that there are people who dream of diverse malversions and distortions as Lamidi Adedibu almost got away with. The Olubadan succession is not automatic in theory or practice.
There is another but trivial sense in which Governor Ajimobi is wrong: “The process is not rancour-free.” There is presently rancour with the Seriki line who threatened to appoint a parallel Olubadan and based their case on some litigations which they took as far as the Supreme Court of Nigeria. I am personally convinced they do not have a very good case. It is true they have litigated right up to the Supreme Court and they have put up an intricate advertisement of their case. Before I go into this second half, I wish to give a signature claim to this long ago.
I do not write lightly or frivolously. I have been lucky and as William Shakespeare would say, “my life has had a smatch of honour in it” or as Zik would say, “my life has been a joy to me.” I hold the first Ph.D in Ibadan town and I have had the luck of being posted to Ministries where truly great men left their bold footprints on the sands of time.
Awolowo was the first Minister of Local Government. I was in Local Government in 1970, namely 46 good years ago. Oba Akran was in Economic Planning and Community Development with responsibility for Economic Planning, Community Development and National Census. I was his immediate successor in 1962, fifty four years back. I have read Law privately and try to combine this with Mathematics, both Pure and Applied, as if I was aiming to be a Lord Denning, the great Master of the Rolls. I give thanks to Professor David Ijalaiye of University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), who gave me guidelines and a basic 30-book reading list. As a habitual litigant myself, I visited courts for my own cases involving criminal, libel and slander, as well as contract and election cases. I benefited a lot from the inspiration of Chief Akinjide, Aare Afe Babalola and various legal luminaries, from whom I learnt the basics of Sources of Nigerian Law, Evidence, Contract, Tort, Canons of Statutory Interpretation, Jurisprudence or Legal Philosophy, Drafting and the general publications like the six books of Lord Denning, Teslim Elias, all of T. A. Aguda, the nearest in judicial activism in Nigeria. So I have been lucky to be placed in Chieftaincy Affairs occupied by Alhaji D. S. Adegbenro, Dr Omitowoju, Chief Rotimi Williams etc, men who were born great, achieved greatness and had greatness thrust on them as my favourite English bard was wont to say.
My dear reader, I wrote six definitive articles twenty years ago on the topics of Olubadan succession, Olubadan Advisory Council and the Seriki line tangle. I wrote these very articles in the Nigerian Tribune of November 4, 11, 18 and December 2, 9, 16 and 23 of 1996. They constitute an excellent dramatic throwback to the current situation. I have ever since given lectures to the Ibadan Progressive Union (IPU), who honoured me fifty years apart, both in 1962 and 2012. So also have I given the first Adelabu Memorial Lecture and perhaps upon their decision, the last to the prestigious Ibadan Foundation in 2008 and 2015, among several others. I am not a member of the Foundation, IPU, although my father was the first Treasurer of the IPU Study Circle with Chief S. A. Oloko as the first President and Barrister Victor Esan, the first Secretary. The latter gentleman, my baptismal godfather, was the husband of Iyalode Wura Esan and the father of LASU VC, Jadesola Akande. The first was the father of Justice Atinuke Ige. So much for my antecedents. I was very close to the late Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Odulana and I advised him, building for him, fourteen definitive files on chieftaincies in Ibadanland, as Mr Muda Ayeni, secretary of the Ibadan Foundation would testify. With all the foregoing having been said, my personal library and those of Professor Bolanle Awe and Chief John Ayorinde, the distinguished father of the present Baale Ekotedo, Elder Taye Ayorinde, form a veritable source of information on Ibadan and its history. Professor Falola is a recent wonder.
My father was the Secretary/Treasurer of the Ibadan Native Administration when, under the second half of Abass Alesinloye’s reign the Olubadan position was extended from the exclusive prerogative of the Balogun line, of which Seriki line was a part and the alternation between Egbe Agba and the Balogun line began. Abass Alesinloye was Baale of Ibadan (1930 – 1936) and Olubadan (1936 – 1946), giving him a total of sixteen years reign over Ibadanland. I am now close to 81 and with all this experience, Ibadan Elders Committee does not deem it fit to make me a member of their closed group. I am actually amused by all this flight from truth, experience and various contributions to the town, state and the nation. I am amused and amazed and this is perhaps why it took them like ten needless hours to resolve a trivial matter of promotions which overheated the polity in Ibadan and led to an unprecedented advertisement to incarcerate the Olubadan and the nine lawfully promoted chiefs and the ridiculous demand for unconstitutional medical tests. I make bold to say that within the last two decades or so, a completely blind man succeeded in becoming the Olubadan! The Committee of Elders should beware of becoming an illicit and illegal clearing house for who could be governor of Oyo State. They have a right to join politics or even set up criteria for a good Olubadan. Oyo State is more than Ibadan alone. I was particularly appalled by one single statement that they would not have a person becoming Governor and Olubadan. If no one would challenge them, I would. This is a biased and pointed attack on Adewolu Ladoja of Isale-Osi.
First, the Governor of Oyo State is not meant only for Ibadan. Alao-Akala was not from Ibadan. The Governor of Oyo State could come from Ibadan, Eruwa, Saki, Ogbomoso, or indeed any other part of the state. The Ibadan Committee of Elders should note this. I have nothing against Ambassador Sanu. I adore him, eat in his house and commission extra chin-chin from his wife as much as I love the moin-moin of Mrs Bode Amoo. Chief Amoo is a distinguished, blessed and shrewd classmate of mine at our great school, St Peter’s Aremo, Ibadan, where I first showed signs of arithmetical prowess under class teacher J. A. F. Sokoya and headmaster S. A. Olukoya. The scarcely veiled attack on the inalienable right of Ladoja to be Olubadan and governor is not the business of the Ibadan Committee of Elders. May I end this part of my article that I can produce a logical counter example. In the Second Republic, HRH Alhaji Awal Ibrahim was the Governor of Niger State, a temporary post and he was and is a natural ruler of Suleja. That nails the coffin of bias against Ladoja. I have mentioned this because it may happen in the future and it is compatible with the constitution. Oba Odulana was a Federal Minister. Seriki Adisa Akinloye was also a Federal Minister as well as Chairman of the NPN.
All the foregoing arose before the glorious exit of Oba Odulana Odugade I. This analytical continuation of my long essay concerns what I have chosen to call the Seriki gridlock. The principal aim is to prove beyond any iota of doubt that as the Seriki line is on the face of the statute, no Executive power can legislate it out of existence. Nevertheless, I want to show that the Seriki line, a long time ago in Oba Asanike’s reign, shot itself in the foot. The best evidence is the testimony of my kind uncle, Chief Bayo Oyediji himself. With the assistance of his competent lawyer, Barrister A. G. Adeniran, he had just put out in book form, a comprehensive case for the claims of his line. One or two people have pulled out of the line, like my friend, Chief Oyelade, the printer and publisher who played a significant role in my governorship contest in 1982 from Greensprings to Government House. Chief Bayo Oyediji has always provided me with all the documentation he puts out in his stolid fight for the rights of the Seriki line. Many of those he started with have gone the way of all flesh, such as the likes of the great Babasale, Chief Muibi Akanbi (M.O.) In Chief Oyediji’s latest personal publication, the preface is titled: “Reports from the Minutes of The Olubadan Advisory Council, held on Monday, the 21st Day of April 1987. Ibadan Chiefs: Matters Arising.”
“After going through a declaratory statement on the definition, functions and powers of the ‘Olubadan-in-Council,’ the extent of Olubadan over the entire Ibadanland, especially as custodian of customs and traditions, the Olubadan went into the issues of disorderly behaviour among the junior chiefs, he then came on to the crucial Kabiyesi’s announcement to wit..
“At this juncture, His Royal Highness, Alaiyeluwa Oba Yesufu Oloyede Asanike I, Olubadan of Ibadanland, announced that all those who were recently installed as Chiefs in the Seriki line did not pay customary installation fees and failed to perform their traditional rites with the exception of one Chief Rasidi and as such they should not be regarded or accepted as Seriki chiefs.”
Seriki chiefs: Matters affecting
“The council unanimously decided that Seriki Line should not be constituted to the extent of becoming a major line, it should remain a subsidiary to the Balogun chieftaincy line. It should be further decided that Ibadan Municipal Government should be informed not to cater for more than the chiefs enumerated in its annual estimates, which invariably implies that no additional number of chiefs be included in the annual Estimates or paid for the Ibadan Municipal Government.
“Oba Asanike-in-Council then went into the issue of PROTOCOL. Fifty-seven (57) chiefs were listed in an explicit order. For the interested reader, naturally enough the Olubadan was placed at number one, Otun Olubadan, number two, Balogun, number three, Seriki as number 11 and the Iyalode, number 12, whilst Osi Seriki, Ashipa Seriki and Ekerin Seriki were listed Nos 55, 56 and 57 respectively. This is significant. The council decided that any chief from Seriki line who opts to join one of the two major chieftaincy could do so on his volition at the rank of Jagun Balogun or Jagun Olubadan of Ibadanland. Chief Oyelade of his own volition availed himself of this option. The council finally asserted with grave concern about frictions and open conflict among junior chiefs and further asserted that Ekerin Balogun is senior to Seriki, Ekefa Balogun and Otun Iyalode are senior to Otun Seriki, etc. It finally stated that no Mogaji is senior to another.”
The significant thing is that only a handful of chiefs is recognised on the Seriki and Iyalode lines which have in my own opinion arbitrarily extended their lines contrary to statute. The Seriki line was upset and their promotions frozen. The Seriki saga took some diplomatic turn under the personal initiative of a non-member, Barrister Oyelakin Balogun, who set up an unprecedented ad hoc committee headed by the then Are of Ibadan, Archdeacon Alayande as chairman. Other members were retired Chief Judge Fakayode, Alhaji Salami (Adajo), Alhaji S. A. Adewale, Hon. S. A. Ogunkeye (JCA), Dr V. O. S. Olunloyo (myself), Alhaji (Dr) Adebayo Adetunji, Venerable T. I. O. Bolaji, Dr E. O. Adetunji, Imam Inakoju. This ad hoc committee met several times in Arch Alayande’s Ode-Aje residence and eventually sent a signed communiqué to the Olubadan. For judicial reasons, in case litigation ensued, Justice Ogunkeye refrained from signing. There was a discernible balance in terms of both religious and political affiliation. The main recommendations were sent to the Olubadan and the two sides, Seriki and Olubadan (combined) urged to adopt one or the other alternative we gave them with the caveat that all litigation in court be stopped.
As of today, the litigation continued until the consent judgment reached the Supreme Court. The Governors of Oyo State, for their own part, have not completed the processes. No one can blame or should blame any of the Governors because of the nature of the judgment of the Supreme Court. This is my own personal opinion and I think it is an informed one.
At this juncture, we come to an almost surrealist but definitely transcendental part of my treatment of the recondite problem now facing Ibadan as to Seriki line claims of various kinds. Certainly, promotions had been frozen for a good while and yet Oba Asanike I was one of the most popular Olubadan who reigned in or ruled Ibadan. Oba Asanike kept strictly to the tenets of justice, fair play and equity. He was a jolly good fellow, a fine gentleman of the finest calibre if ever there was one. I remember vividly his stand-off with Chief Yinusa Ogundipe (as he then was) over the promotion of Balogun-elect Akere. This was before the chicken came home to roost. We all know the subsequent fate of Ogundipe. God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform. The substance of this part of the write-up is the terse, almost entirely logically accurate, unexceptionable and nearly flawless points made by Chief Olalekan Adisa Fakunle on behalf of the Seriki line. The advertorial was titled “The Bases of Claim of the Seriki chiefs to produce the next Olubadan of Ibadan after the death of HRM Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade I.”
I read this advertorial nearly five times before picking the subtle holes embedded in it. It was on page 46 of the “Saturday Tribune” of 30 January, 2016. Before going into the crafty nitty-gritty of the write-up, I must pontificate that no chieftaincy line and a fortiori no one can make an Olubadan of himself. That would be akin to Napoleon Bonaparte which Ibadan’s republican, egalitarian and cosmopolitan republic of warriors, indeed funded by a composite band of marauders, would tolerate.
Chief Fakunle’s advertorial was skilfully put together. There are two major parts, Section 1 was the historical leg which is more or less flawless because before 1946 ONLY the Balogun line used to occupy the headship of the town, Bale or by whatever name called, e.g. Bashorun, Are-Ona Kakanfo, etc etc. Fakunle’s historical leg is absolutely almost unexceptionable. The Section 2 is the controversial legal leg concerning Suit No I/313/88 (Seriki vs Olubadan etc) in Ibadan in 1988 and here I would stick out my neck. The terms of settlement (out of court) was prepared and signed by the Olubadan, Balogun and the Otun Olubadan representing all the traditional chiefs in Ibadan and their counsel. These terms of settlement were filed in court and on December 1, 1989 and to cut a long story short, adopted as judgment of the High Court. We need not haggle over the terms, for instance, as to how mutually equitable they were vis-a-vis the interest of both sides. Suffice it to say they were signed as agreed to.
The first suspect statement in Fakunle’s submission is that the original and now notorious double vacancy clause in the Akinyele 1959 Declaration has been amended by clauses I and II of the consent judgment. Fakunle thereafter contrives to quote that the Oyo State of Nigeria Gazette No 24, Vol 3 of the 8th June 1978, though retrospective, still governs the composition of Olubadan, Balogun and Otun Olubadan as the Chieftaincy Committee of Ibadan Local Government of the IMG. This Fakunle assertion presumes that the IMG was still the competent council designated for the Olubadan chieftaincy. There lies a small catch, rectifiable today for instance, as it might not be valid. Fakunle then uses the phrase “deemed to have been amended” in respect of the Seriki declaration of 1959.
Fakunle used other arguments such as “And since it is their duty to prepare a formal amendment to the 1959 Declaration and present the same to the Governor of Oyo State for his approval and having failed to do so, they cannot hide under their failure to do their duty to contend that the 1959 Akinyele Seriki Declaration was never amended.” Fakunle, in a very desperately plaintive tone takes refuge under a maxim that as far as the law is concerned that a person will not be allowed to take refuge under his own malfeasance to contend that what he ought to have done was never done. The law, Fakunle contends that the law will tell him, since it is your duty to do it and you have failed to do it, the law will act on the presumption that you have done it and proceed from there.
In my own humble logical opinion (not necessary legal!), this is a very clear but either weak or inappropriate maxim. Suppose it involves material things such as payment of money, release of land, it seems overt steps to complete the actualisation of the fruits of the judgment to the judgment-creditor.
Fakunle cites various authorities which are not really persuasive to a mathematical legally inclined mind. Why do I say this? He resorts to equity but I think it is to little avail. The principles of equity and regarding the court, any court (High, Appeal, Supreme) is inherently a court of equity does not quite catch this slippery rambling game in the legal forest! He ends his valiant write-up, more by way of sentiments as to relative positions of various chiefs on incomparable lines. By sheer Aristotelian logic (see e.g. Organon or Nichomachean Ethics), it is invidious to compare incomparables. If you take Otun line and Balogun line and the rate of mortality on one line is double or triple that on the other, someone who was once very far relatively another may come to be senior to another.
He ended with a fatally hideous argument jumping a wide legal chasm to conclude as if exhausted that it is the turn of Seriki chiefs to produce the next Olubadan, in line with the consent judgment.
This is shockingly and pitifully vacuous type of argument. Let us start from the end. The consent judgment does not pronounce or imply anything about when and how Seriki chiefs would or could produce the “next Olubadan.” Pitifully, it is pity, because it only pronounces as to how a Seriki can travel the next leg of his journey to the top from one of the Ekerins. Ogunwusi in 1964 did not complete the second leg of that arduous journey. He died six months later. There is even now no Seriki as such but the undisputed head of the dormant (but not moribund) Seriki line. Assuming the dexterous use of the principle of equity, how do we calculate where Seriki Oyediji would be located now on one of the Olubadan ladders and which of the ladders in the partly ambiguous consent judgment? Fakunle’s argument does not today quite clinch this Olubadan stool for anyone on the Seriki line, since it does not do so unfortunately for Chief Oyediji.
It is nearly absolute nonsense to set up a parallel Olubadan as one newspaper said last week. There are several fatal flaws in Chief Fakunle’s arguments. He concentrates on the trio of the highest chiefs who constitute the declaration making committee. Assuming they make a new declaration absolutely in line with the adopted consent judgment, what about the Governor? Can he sign an amended declaration which has not been made or forwarded to him? Can any such amputated document have the force of law without the Governor’s signature?
We enter the deep end of the treacherous waters of the jurisprudence of this matter. To explain this, we must pay tribute to Aare Afe Babalola, OFR, SAN, FNIALS, FCIArb, LLD, LLB (Hons), B.Sc (Econs) Lond, B.L of Lincoln’s Inn London and Supreme Court of Nigeria He has penned a book, the subject matter of which is hardly taught in our universities nor given the pride of place it deserves in law schools in Nigeria and England. It is the dry and difficult subject of the Enforcement of Judgements. Kudos to the Aare Babalola who wrote the book: “Enforcement of Judgements” which contains an inimitable, lucid and very felicitous foreword as bright as the morning star by Hon Justice M. O. Onalaja when he was Justice of Appeal Court, Lagos.
What is difficult for one mind to comprehend may be easiest for another. Jurisprudence, Theory of Law, Philosophy of Law, Canons of Statutory Interpretation and Drafting have so many similarities with Pure Mathematics and Logic and so become a piece of cake for a mathematician studying the basic underpinning of Law.
Chief Fakunle’s advertorial has a discernible pattern. The argument in the legal leg becomes weaker and weaker as it crawls inexorably to its pathetic failure of an end. The weakest part is that the Governor who must sign this amendment to the 1959 Declaration has not been presented with it since the judgment was delivered in 1989. It has not reached the table of all the Governors, military or civilian. One corollary is that the 1959 subsidiary legislation subsists and save for the obstacles in the principal legislation Cap 20 Section 14 (2) and those in the Olubadan Declaration of 1959, High Chief Balogun Saliu Adetunji has cleared all the hurdles in the declaration. It remains for the government to clear him and without let or hindrance, importing no non-constitutional process into the process. He is as good as home in the race.
There are a few comments that can be gained from closely reading Aare Afe Babalola’s “Enforcement of Judgements.” The Supreme Court consent judgment is probably a pathological case of a judgement that is merely declaratory, incomplete or outright unenforceable. “Every judgement of the court must be obeyed and is effective from the date of its delivery or from such a date as the judgement itself appoints. The judgement is meant to be obeyed without demand and if there is default in obedience, after a period of grace which can be between three to fourteen days as the rule may prescribe, the judgment creditor is entitled to commence enforcement proceedings.” Now that is vintage Afe Babalola on enforceable judgments.
Chief Fakunle’s case seems to involve an unenforceable per se. The Governor is not a party and there is nothing he can do if no amendment is forwarded to him. It is somehow dormant. Afe says a declaratory judgment may however be enforced by an action. Thus the party who obtains a declaratory judgement or order may go back to court and seek an order to enforce it. Aare Afe Babalola then explains what Karibi Whyte JSC advises anyone who finds a dormant judgement on his plate to do. Does Chief Fakunle not think that since 1989 proceedings ought to have been taken to protect the threat of violation of the rights so declared in the judgement or order coercive powers of the court in the enforcement of the judgement? Is the judgement Seriki line obtained in 1989 at the Supreme Court a mere paper judgement? Have the Seriki people taken the ultimate final step of translating their paper judgement into reality? I think not.
Now for an anticlimax, calculating statistically, I told High Chief Saliu Adetunji thrice in the last six years that he would be the next Olubadan! He would confirm that to you all. He should do two things to prune lines which have unilaterally increased rungs on them. He should also defreeze the promotion on the Seriki line. The Seriki and Iyalode are the unique representatives on the list of Kingmakers of Ibadan as listed in the 1959 Declaration for the Olubadan of Ibadan Chieftaincy. The gridlock is smashed.
The Gordian knot is untied. The government is lucky. Saliu Adetunji is the victor of the day.