By Niyi Olutunde, Akure
Tension has currently enveloped Irun Akoko in Akoko North West local government of Ondo State, even as the town’s Council of Chiefs and Community leaders have demanded urgent actions by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to resolve protracted chieftaincy tussle rocking the town for the past eight years.
The Council of Chiefs noted that all efforts to have a transparent selection process in recent past had been frustrated by local and state governments officials with vested interest.
The stool of Onirun of Irun became vacant in November, 2011 after Oba Williams Adeusi from Oke Omowa Ruling House joined his ancestors.
It is now the turn of Oke Ose Ruling House to produce the next monarch according to a government’s circular.
To fill the vacant stool, the state government on 11th August, 2015, appointed four warrant chiefs for the purpose of appointing new Onirun.
They are Pa David Asamo of Ijowa Quarters, Sola Olaiya- Sajowa of Ipatare Quarters, Olokorun Oso-Ade of Ijowa Quarters and Adedeji Olajide, the Ajiboye of Ileo Quarters.
The warrant chiefs are to join four other kingmakers namely: the Odoule of Ipatare, Ojo Olotu; the Olisa of Ipatare, Bayode Falade; Segun Ajiboye, the Ajiboye of Oke-Olu; and Habiib Sanni, the Alaka of Ijowa Quarters, to appoint the new monarch for the town.
It was exclusively gathered that the first selection held on 26th November, 2015 was nullified by the state government due to irregularities perpetrated by government’s officials and fresh process was ordered.
In a petition addressed to governor Akeredolu by the Community leaders under the auspices of Irun Council of Chiefs, they advised government against replacing Sola Olaiya with Isaac Ojo Olaiya as Sajowa (one of the warrant chiefs).
The Chiefs urged governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to remove completely the Sajowa family from the list of the eight kingmakers, and allow the remaining seven to conduct a fresh selection process.
In the petition jointly signed by 19 out of 22 chiefs and community leaders in the town and made available to newsmen, the Council described Akeredolu as a man of integrity who detests injustice.
They said efforts to get the attention of the governor over the issue, especially the role played by some top government officials to truncate the process, had not been successful due to unjust interference of some top government’s functionaries.
In the letter, the Council said “Mr. Governor, a man of high integrity, an outspoken legal luminary who hates cheating and illegality could not have allowed injustice to prevail on the Onirun of Irun Chieftaincy matters, if he had seen, read or been briefed on the letters addressed to his office by lrun Council of Chiefs on the matter.”
According to the Chiefs, all efforts by them to see the governor have been frustrated and to their greatest surprise, the same government’s officials used the governor’s name to direct the authorities of Akoko North West Local Government to organize a failed “kangaroo” selection exercise at lrun Akoko on Thursday 18th July 2019.
“On that day (18/7/19), many armed policemen and soldiers (were brought) to the town and ordered to shoot those who may resist installing (anointed) candidate as King in lrun community.”
The community leader also urged the governor to save the town from unnecessary conflict and direct his aides and other government’s officials to steer clear and stop interfering with the Onirun stool’s selection process God’s intervention.
In another protest letter dated 19 April 2018 addressed to Mr. Governor and Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs captioned IRUN PEOPLE SAY NO TO CHANGE OF WARRANT CHIEF SOLA OLAIYA FROM SAJOWA FAMILY IN THE SELECTION PROCESS OF ONIRUN OF IRUN was neither acknowledged nor responded to by the Government.
“In view of the total confusion that has enveloped the town and our desire for timely and peaceful completion of the exercise, and since we did not receive reply to our letters, we later addressed to the Governor, Deputy Governor and Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs dated 13th June, 2018 captioned: Step Down the two controversial Warrant Chiefs’ appointed by the Government from the Sajowa family and allow the remaining non-controversial Warrant Chiefs and king makers to conclude the selection process of Onirun of Irun.”
“Like our previous letters, no response was received from the Government until our visit to the Deputy Governor on Wednesday 21St November, 2018.
“Since Your Excellency confirmed that Government by policy will not impose an Oba on any community in Ondo State and therefore had no hand in the fraudulent and controversial appointment of a purported second Warrant Chief from the same Sajowa Family, the coast is clear to put to rest the controversy surrounding the appointment.”
“By general consensus of lrun community, we suggest that Government should step down the Sajowa family. It is imperative to step down this family because the family is divided and has formed a major cog and obstacle to the conduct of a peaceful selection.”
“This will not however remove Sajowa family from the list of kingmakers in the event of future selection of Oba Onirun.”
“Since the late Oba William Adewusi joined his ancestors in November 2011, and the demise of the Regent in November 2017,many strange and worrisome events had occurred in the town, ranging from separatist problem between Oke and Odo Irun, kidnapping, ritual killing, untimely death of prominent sons and daughters of the town, invasion of our farmland by herdsmen, sodomising of goats by humans, several boundaries dispute resulting in communal clashes, etc.”
The Council of Chiefs said, “we hold firm belief that the absence of a monarch that could perform important traditional functions and coordinate the management of Irun town is largely responsible for such strange developments.”
Commenting on the security situation in the town, the Ondo state Police command’s Spokesman, Femi Joseph said the force would continue to ensure that the peaceful coexistence at Irun Akoko was not truncated as a result of the Obaship tussle.
Joseph added that, “Our responsibility is to maintain law and order on the town, anybody or group that feels aggrieved will be prevailed to follow due process in expressing their grievances.”
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