Oniru Stool: Not Yet Uhuru | Independent Newspapers Nigeria

LAGOS  – Few weeks after having to explain his role in the controversial Lekki shooting, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is again in the news over the controversial Oniru royal stool. 

Though the stool is already occupied by Oba Omogbolahan Lawal, a loyalist and former aide-de-camp to Tinubu, but there is a belief that the last may not have been seen in relation to the stool. 

It would be recalled that barely a week into his enthronement, a faction of the Abisogun Oniru family, the Omowunmi Abisogun Oniru ruling family staged a peaceful protest on the premises of the Lagos High Court in Igbosere where they filed a suit challenging the installation of Lawal as the 15th Oniru. 

Among other claims, the protest, led by 88-year-old factional head of Omowunmi Abisogun, Alhaji Surajudeen Durosinmi, alleged that Oba Lawal is not a full-blooded son of Abisogun Oniru and, therefore, has no right to the stool. They appealed to the Federal Government to prevail on the Lagos State government to reverse its decision on the installation of Oba Lawal and choose one of them as the king of Iruland. 

As contained in form No.1 of the General Form of Writ of Summons, claimants in the suit number LD/6681/ JCMW/2020 instituted before Justice Owolabi Dabiri of Lagos State High Court, Igbosere are Alhaja Afusatu Kabiawu, Alhaji Surajudeen Durosinmi and Alhaja Wosilatu Abdul Azeez Fatosha against the defendants Adesegun Abiodun Oniru, Tijani Abiodun Oniru, Hakeem Ajasa, Ademola Abiodun Oniru, Secretary to the Iru/Victoria Island LCDA, Executive Government of Lagos state, Chief Biliaminu Sanni Abisogun, Gani Sanni Abisogun, Rashidi Sanni Abisogun and the Attorney General of Lagos State. 

The claimants also insisted that succession to Oniru chieftaincy is hereditary and that Abisogun ruling house is supposed to be the next to nominate a candidate to fill the Oniru stool following the demise of Oba Idowu Abiodun. 

They claimed that Prince Hakeem Ajasa, the third defendant, is not a member of Abisogun ruling house and he is not in any way related to Omowunmi Abisogun by blood while the selection and installation of the third defendant by the seventh defendant and or with other defendants, is null, void and of no consequence. 

The family equally sought an order of the court directing the secretary of the appropriate local government to announce Omowunmi Abisogun ruling house as the next ruling house to nominate a candidate to fill the vacancy in Oniru chieftaincy stool of Lagos state. 

Describing the alleged imposition of Oba Lawal on Iru Kingdom by Governor Sanwo-Olu as executive recklessness, the counsel for the aggrieved family, Cornelius Nwachukwu, said: “A case has been instituted in court demanding an injunction and the defendants have responded on behalf of both the executive governor of Lagos State, Attorney General of the State, Secretary to the Eti-Osa Local Government and they filed an application that is pending in court and yet to be heard. So, the question is, why should he be installed as the king in the midst of all these? 

The Counsel claimed that from onset, “Oba Lawal was not in the picture for the race to the throne. Initially, Ajasa, who is also within the Lagos State government, was selected. All they did was to drop Hakeem Ajasa and he was replaced with Lawal. 

“We are contesting the procedure for selection and emergence of the Oba. The Secretary to the local government ought to announce the next family in line and request from the ruling house to bring their candidate for consideration. They are not to impose an unpopular candidate on the entire kingdom. We want to ask the court to compel them to do just that. 

“That Oba Lawal was hastily installed simply highlights the interest of the Lagos State government in the matter. There are procedures to be followed but surprisingly, within three days, he resigned and was installed as the king. That was reckless enough. It showed that there was no consideration for the people of Lagos State. 

“Importantly, Gbolahan is an outsider. He does not belong to the ruling Oniru clan. This shows that the entire process has been politicised. They neglect the law and customs that regulate Obaship affairs in Lagos State. 

“We believe it is unjust and we are praying for the reversal of his installation but if they refuse, we will continue with our legal pursuit until justice is served. We believe he will be removed by the court. 

“The Omowunmi Abisogun ruling house is the next in line to the Oniru stool and, therefore, rejects the imposition of Wasiu Gbolahan Lawal as the Oniru of Iruland by the governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. 

“Since the death of Oba ldowu Abiodun Oniru in 2019, there have been several attempts by some forces to hijack the Oniru stool for their personal and political gains. The family has also been cajoled with money and other material trappings to waive their right to the throne. But they are firm and unbending in their demand for their right to the Oniru stool. 

“We are shocked that the Lagos State government would act illegally by acting contrary to the dictate of the laws. Why should Governor Sanwo-Olu impose and install an unpopular candidate despite knowing that there is a pending suit against installation of the new Oniru? 

“My clients, the Omowunmi Abisogun Oniru Chieftaincy Family, are in court over this matter and the Lagos State governor, Attorney-General, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs; Secretary to Victoria/Iru LCDA are respondents. 

While many had thought that the dust has settled as regards the royal stool, few days ago, a prince and member of the Abisogun ruling house, Hakeem Ajasa, sent a pre-litigation letter to Tinubu and Governor, Sanwo-Olu, accusing them of manipulating the process of selecting Oba Lawal as the Oniru. 

The letter was also addressed to the local government chairman, Eti Osa Local Government Area, Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, the Attorney-General of the state, the current Oniru and the Elegushi of Ikate Land 

In a letter titled, ‘Possible Amicable Resolution in Compliance With Order 5 Rule 1 Sub-Rule 2 Sub-Sub Rule (E) of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019 and in Respect of Pre-Action Protocol in the Proposed Matter of Prince Hakeem Oriyomi Ajasa (Oniru Elect) and Ors’, and dated October 27, 2020, Ajasa claimed he had been selected as the next Oniru but Tinubu called him to a meeting and informed him that he would have to give up his ambition because his business partners were not happy with his emergence. 

Ajasa in the letter signed by his lawyer, Ishola Agboola, claimed that he remained the only candidate selected by the Abisogun ruling house but Tinubu went ahead to pick Lawal, who he said did not take part in the contest. 

The letter read in part, “Prince Hakeem Oriyomi Ajasa was and remains the only candidate nominated, selected and appointed by the Abisogun ruling house of Iru Kingdom as the Oniru of Iru (elect) but the Lagos State Government, at the behest of Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and to the chagrin and disappointment of people of Iru Kingdom, imposed one Prince Gbolahan Lawal who did not partake in the selection, nomination or appointment exercise held by the Abisogun ruling house.” 

He said the entire members of the Iru royal kingdom had confirmed in a broadcast on TVC on December 8, 2019 that, he, (Ajasa) had been picked by the Abisogun ruling house in line with the declaration of September 14, 1993 and the custom and traditions of Iru kingdom. 

The letter further read, “Suddenly, Chief Tinubu called our client for a meeting and informed him that his business partners with whom he had his personal project of Eko Atlantic City, had complained to him about our client that he is a meticulous person who would not compromised on merit and would scrutinise and expose certain dealings along Iru axis that they would prefer to remain a secret. 

“According to Chief Tinubu, his business partners demanded that he should use his political might in Lagos State to coerce the Lagos State Government to impose Gbolahan Lawal on the princes, princesses and people of Iru kingdom despite the nomination of Prince Hakeem Ajasa by the Iru kingdom.” 

He said rather than recognise the choice of the ruling family, the Lagos State Government decided to choose Lawal, which he said was against the principle of natural justice. 

Analysts are of the view that this recent allegation and exposé by Prince Hakeem Ajasa, has exposed the fact that Tinubu had always influenced who becomes the king in most parts of the state. 

Tinubu was said to have, against the people’s will, installed the present Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, he was also said to have installed Oba Saheed Elegushi, Oba of Ikate-Elegushi Land. 

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