With cases pending at both the High Court and the Court of Appeal on the raging royalty battle in Ijesaland, the most convenient argument would be to let the judiciary have the usual final say as anything said in the course of the litigation could be deemed subjudice. Very sound argument. Any in-between intervention would further appear an interloping act, considering that the two major institutions that exercise both the traditional and institutional authorities over the feuding parties, have taken positions.
But I’m touching on this delicate subject matter for two reasons. One, its huge potential for clannish conflagration with lethal result. Two, this intervention is a preachment for peaceful resolution before a simmering volcano gives way.
Peace is sine qua non to development and what is mixing in Itapaland, comprising Erinmo, Igbajorayo, Ooyekun-Ijeda and Omo-Ijesa, is going to threaten the peace of the whole state when it is done brewing, because it is about the extremely-emotional issue of chieftaincy, superiority, homage-paying (isakole) alleged land-grabbing and attempts at re-writing historical facts which would allegedly make a landlord not only become a tenant, but having no claim whatsoever to any portion, in whatever guise, of what should be his, by heritage.
As we speak, the paramount ruler of Itapa-Ijesa, ObaOlapadeAgoro is locked in titanic battle with Elerinmo of Erinmo, ObaOdunayoAjayi. Expectedly, their people, particularly young men who mostly retire everyday from farm to idleness, are queuing behind them. If objectivity isn’t allowed to prevail in the supposed intervention by the involved authorities, regardless of the outcome of the on-going litigation, it may not be long before devil would find work for those idle hands, who have been toughened by the vagaries of the only way to survive; everyday of hard labour, with bulging muscles. When their likes are “inspired,” the ruinous acts they are capable of, are better imagined.
Sadly, these communities have lived together for more than 200 years in peace before this crisis. The popular historical narrative which the state government and incumbent Elerinmo are disputing (the sacking of Agoro as Owatapa is before the court) is that the progenitor of Itapa-Ijesa and first Owa-tapa, ObaAdugbolohunbiara, originally from Igbo-tapa in present day Ile-Ife, was said to have, in the spirit of accommodation, accommodated the other four including the first Elerinmo, in his domain, carving out kingdoms for the four tenants and collecting royalties from them. Strangely however, there isn’t any portion of the land today, with Itapa nomenclature emblem.
But should such strange generosity now give room for a sleight of hand against history? You wonder why past Elerinmo didn’t challenge the status quo until the ascension of the incumbent? Would the current stiff assault against status quo have anything to do with other top-of-the-pack traditional rulers allegedly backing the Elerinmo for personal friendship sake? Isn’t this needless crisis a tacit confirmation of a clique taking over the traditional institution in the state, fixing members on vacant thrones by fire, by force even when such princes aren’t qualified or the people and oracles rejecting them? Is a brotherhood, allegedly rooted in business links, sealed with official imprints, gradually taking over traditional stools in the state?
No personality directly or remotely connected with the on-going crisis is of any interest here; only due process and peace. It would be for the people to have the traditional ruler they deserve because imposition that would eventually hurt their interest, could be vehemently rejected to the point that the appointing authority would give up, but no battle royale should worth the peace of the state. Any blood that is shed in that axis over this brewing crisis would be on those who should arrest the coming chaos by doing and saying what is right. Such blood will also be demanded of them, both in this life and hereafter. A stitch…
Easy, Team Magu
My friend and brother, Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC media-minder, last Thursday, got me joining a team to inspect the commission’s Lagos provision for detainees. Though the Head of Operations, Mr IlliyasuKwarbai, representing Mr Ibrahim Magu, tried to downplay the significance of the “openness” show, by insisting it was a periodic indulgence, the “display” was no doubt a response to the stinging criticism of Team Magu’s alleged underhand tactics against suspects.
What was on display looked good enough and I was buying into it until a mischievous on-line publisher pointed out that the detainees’ restroom, which we inspected, were better deodorised than the ones within the office complex. I used a restroom there too, but I reserve my comment.
Considering the “unprecedented” recovery success of Team Magu, there may be some truths to the accusations against its adopted style because it is un-Nigerian to willingly return looted funds, but these aren’t normal times. The anti-corruption war can’t be the conventional arrest, bail, perpetual injunction charade but you can’t also cast out demons using the name of Beelzebub. Anything illegal or unconstitutional, done to cure kleptomania, won’t make such therapy acceptable.
Team Magu, without doubt, is passionate but must be law-abiding. Corruption may be narrowly seen as illegal possession of wealth. But it isn’t about what is taken but the act of taking it. This makes any illegal act corrupt. If EFCC is illegally bending and squeezing suspects, then Team Magu is corrupt!
Wisdom demands it is time Team Magu stopped behaving like someone with whitlow on the five fingers, because one sad political culture in Nigeria is that over-pious lieutenants are always steaked when warring parties need barbecue for peace party.