Elder Tayo Ayorinde, Baale Ekotedo is the traditional chief in charge of the jurisdiction of Igbo community in Ibadan, Oyo state. He shares his view on the long rivalry between the two personalities in the Igbo leadership tussle in Ibadan.
You are alleged to have taken side with Chief Alloy Obi on the issue of leadership of Ndigbo in Ibadanland?
Taken side? Whoever says that is ignorant of the chieftaincy traditional council in Ibadanland. I am a recognized member of Ibadan Northwest traditional council as the Baale of Ekotedo for over 21 years. And as a bona fide son of the soil of Ibadan, I was installed as the seventh Baale of Ekotedo on April 14, 1994. But my nomination was made to Olubadan of Ibadan who is the legal prescribed and consenting authority to accept or reject the nomination of anybody, be it honorary and or traditional, for chieftaincy. As the Baale (Duke in English) of Ekotedo, I have, among my duties, to represent the interest of the Olubadan of Ibadan and that of the government of Oyo State and Nigeria in general.
When did you come into Igbo leadership tussle in Ibadan?
In June 1996, the Olubadan-in-Council summoned me to join the other chiefs to look into the problems between the Igbo communities, who and what caused the problem. Among those in the committee were the secretary to the council, Chief Oladimeji, Chief Durosaro and Chief Lanlehin. We found out that it was a matter of jealousy and power hungry instinct from Alex Anozie. It was a matter between one Chief James Oramadike who Olubadan first installed as Agbaakin, but was later changed to Asaaju of Igbos of Ibadan and Dr Alex Anozie was installed as the Atojuse of Ibadan. Alozie was found guilty of power mongering. He took the matter too personal by claiming superiority and felt that he should not be given a mere Atojuse where Oramadike has been given Agbaakin and later Asaaju (the pall bearer), thinking that the Asaaju title mean the same as Asiwaju. At that point, he took Olubadan to court.
The matter got to the point of going to court when Alozie refused to be bound by the conclusions of the committee set up by the Olubadan-in-council. I make bold to say that Alozie was wrong to challenge the authority and decisions of the Olubadan-in-council. He became too proud and had to be corrected. Though he and his group took Olubadan and Oramadike to court, the case, heard by Honourable Justice Bolaji Yusuf was struck out with a cost of N1,000 against his boys – Chief Akabueje and Evangelist Amanze.
His audacity to have taken Olubadan to court on Oramadike’s installation as a chief made the Olubadan to strip him of the title Atojuse of Ibadan.
Thereafter, he took laws into his hand. He got some of the Igbos to make him the Eze Ndigbo of Ibadanland with a certificate designed by him and not Olubadan’s certificate.
But he said his people according to their tradition made him Eze Ndigbo?
No, he challenged the decision of the Olubadan-in-council and in a foxy way to became the Eze, which means a king in Ibadan without any authority of Olubadan who has the power to make anybody a chief of his choice.
It will interest you to know that the Olubadan of Ibadan wrote a letter to Anozie and deprived him of the chieftaincy title of Atojuse. The letter also contained the directive that he must never be a chief of any sort in Ibadan again. The letter is dated July 14, 1997 with Ref: EAA3/132/ vol.1/97.
Aside making himself an Eze, which he said was authorised by his people which you said should have come from Olubadan, did he commit any sin against the council?
Let me site a portion of the chieftaincy law to you. With the reference to Cap 21 Section 21(2) which states that any person who instals or purports to instal a person as a recognized chief other than approved person by the executive accordant with the law or anybody who not being the person approved by the council in accordance with the pact permitting the installation of himself as a chief shall be liable to a conviction not less than two years imprisonment. Then, Section 3 says that any person who has been approved as a chief in accordance with the law and holds himself as such or wears any regalia of such who is not approved or challenges anybody that has been approved, shall be guilty of an offense and shall be liable on conviction of imprisonment of two years. In the case of Oramadike and Aloy Obi as Balogun, didn’t he? He is now saying that he didn’t take Olubadan to court but he challenged the person that Olubadan installed. For him to be wearing a crown, who gave him a staff of office? Which executive past or present gave him the authority to become a king in Ibadan? An Eze Ndigbo means a King of Igbo in Ibadan, what he claims is not what it is.
There was another allegation that current Olubadan installed Alloy Obi as Balogun recently?
Let me clear something first. Olubadan Oba Saliu Adetunji did not install Alloy Obi as Balogun. He had been decorated by a preceding Olubadan. What was done on that day was affirmation of his title. You can see that he displayed a picture where Oba Adeyemo Operinde installed him as Balogun.
I am not making a stand against Anozie because of Alloy Obi, I am defending the right and traditions and customs of Ibadan. And I stand to be challenged by any Ibadan man dead or alive or any Igbo man with blood in his veins that I am wrong to defend Ibadan culture, tradition and history.
Let me tell you another thing, Oramadike was installed in 1996 as Asaaju not Asiwaju. He thought the title Asaaju means the leader, that is where he made mistake by taking Olubadan to court.
But Dr Anozie said the title was conferred on him by the Igbos?
At this point, let me tell you that members of Ohaneze from South Eastern Nigeria came to the governor, Olubadan and also went to the police to affirm that they have abolished the use of Eze Ndigbo as a title by non-resident Igbos outside Igbo states. There is a document dated year 2008 that backed it up.
Their association Igbo General Assembly (IGA) ordered that there should be an election by all the Igbos in the state to elect a new leader to lead them. He went to High Court to challenge Alloy Obi because of the election.