Two persons have been feared dead in Ikare Akoko headquarters of Akoko North East Local Government Area of Ondo State following a chieftaincy tussle that led to the destruction of several buildings, cars and other properties.
The deceased whose identity could not be ascertained were said to have been killed in different parts of the community after sporadic gunshots rented the air from the two warring factions who are laying claims to the stool of Olokoja of Okoja.
The development led to the deployment of security operatives to the town in order to restore normalcy.
It was gathered that trouble started on Monday when a new Olokoja of Okoja, Chief Sunday Bada, who was recently installed by the traditional ruler of the town, Olukare of Ikare Akoko, Oba Akadiri Momoh, after stripping Chief Idowu Ogunye of the title.
The supporters of the two factions, who are mainly youths, clashed following the insistence of Ogunye to continue to act as Olokoja of Okoja, Ikare-Akoko.
Ogunye was dethroned by Oba Momoh for absenteeism, disloyalty and refusal to obey the directive of the monarch, cautioning him to stop parading himself as Olokoja of Okoja.
A source explained that the crisis erupted on Monday evening when the newly installed Olokoja summoned a meeting but supporters of Ogunye disrupted the meeting.
He said the two sides then engaged themselves all through the night, shooting sporadically while some properties were destroyed in the process.
Speaking in a press statement, Bada accused Ogunye of fuelling crisis in the town since Oba Momoh dethroned Ogunye and installed him (Bada) as the new traditional chief of the town.
He alleged that some thugs sponsored by the dethroned chiefs disrupted a peace meeting called by him, saying his house was destroyed during the fracas.
Chief Bada said: “As custodian of our tradition and native law in Okoja, we were holding our every nine days community’s meeting yesterday (Monday) when some hoodlums came to disrupt the peaceful meeting, which led to a fracas.
“I want to thank the security operatives for their uprightness in handling the situation. It will be recalled that one Chief Idowu Ogunye was dethroned as Olokoja by Olukare of Ikare and I was installed after he was dethroned, since then he, in conjunction with some miscreants, has been causing trouble in the community.
“It will be recalled that he had taken me to the office of the State Director of DSS and office the State Commissioner of Police based on petitions he wrote to the offices, and it was clearly stated to him on both occasions that he can no longer be the chief over the community because he has been dethroned by the constituted authority and that if he’s not pleased he was advised to approach the court of law.
“Okoja is not Okorun and it’s pure lies and unfair on his part to link this issue with Olukare and OwaAle Obaship tussle.”
But Ogunye denied sponsoring thugs to disrupt the town meeting, saying the fracas was designed to cause mayhem in the town ahead of the coronation of the new Owa Ale, Oba Adeleke Adedoyin.
Ogunye said he was prepared to attend the town meetings when he heard about the fighting.
He, however, insisted that he remained the Olokoja of Okoja saying the Olukare could not dethrone him as he was in office before the emergence of the present Olukare.
“Bada is not a member of our family. He is a stranger. I am still alive and remain the Olokoja. Olukare did not appoint me and he cannot remove me.
“They even destroyed my house. They arranged this crisis because of the next coronation of Owa Ale but we have been trying to avoid this crisis in order for peace to reign in the town.”
The Ondo State Police spokesman, Mr Tee Leo Ikoro, who confirmed the incident said security operatives have been drafted to strategic locations in the town but did not confirm the number of casualties during the crisis.
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