“We object to selection of Odofin Sotobi as Oba-elect” -Pa Ogbe

Pa (Barr.) Samuel Falabake Obafemi Ogbe is a legal practitioner of many years standing. He is currently the head of Odujumo-Araba and Odujumo/Araba/Ajayi Owujebe branch of Lasunwon Ruling House of Ikorodu. In an interview with Kunle Adelabu, Publisher/Reporter-in-Chief, The Impact Nespaper, he bears his mind on the controversial process that led to the emergence of a new Ayangbure-elect, the position of Odujumo-Araba/Owujebe branch, the procurement of first beaded crown among others. Excerpts:

Pa Ogbe

Impact: For the record sir, I want you to introduce yourself.

Pa Ogbe: I’m a legal practitioner first and foremost and my names are Samuel Falabake Obafemi Ogbe, currently the head of Odujumo-Araba family and also the head of Odujumo-Araba/Ajayi Owujebe family, because Ajayi Ewujebe became Oba (Oloja)of Ikorodu immediately after Odujumo Araba in 1892 and the two are relations.

Impact: Sir, let me just take you from your last submission. In actual fact, I have met with other members of the Lasunwon Ruling House, especially the Adegorushen and they are of the view that Odujumo-Araba has no relation with Owujebe and that their marriage was that of convenience. What is your reaction to this sir?

Pa Ogbe: To quote a Yoruba proverb, “Eni mo idi oro ni n sabuja eke” (only a person with deep knowledge of a situation can really tell about it). Can you tell the history of my family better than me (asking the interviewer)? Can anybody attempt it unless such is part and parcel of my family? As at now, I am the oldest man in the family i.e. male, because I have two elders that are female and because of this, being a male child, I became the head of the family. I know that in 1976, precisely the 16th day of April, there was a celebration at Ijebu-Ode of past Obas under Fidipote Ruling House and we were part and parcel of the celebration. During the celebration, my own cousin, late Alhaji Adamson Olatunji Bamisedun employed the service of Muse Agbaku, a prominent Oro singer and Bombata Atoba, these were the most prominent among musicians he hired for the celebration in Ijebu-Ode. It was a big funfair and we went there along with members of Ewujebe family. So, if any of these loose talkers can come over and confirm that their own family was part and parcel of that celebration, let them come before me. We went there with Owujebes because we are family and related to Ijebu-Ode, The ancient beaded crown, that is the original crown, was brought to Ikorodu by us (Odujumo-Araba and Ewujebe family) and the proof is this (pointing at the wall to a big frame where delegates from Ikorodu which included members of Odujumo-Araba and Ewujebe with Olisa and Aro of Ikorodu receiving the original beaded crown from palace official at Ijebu-Ode palace). From the left, we have Yaya Onomo Bamisedun, who is the eldest son of Bamisedun and on the extreme right is Alimi Sosanya Ogbe, who happen to be eldest son of Ogbe and the great grandson of Ewujebe. So, we have representatives of Odujumo Araba and Ewujebe being delegated by the whole town (Ikorodu). Evidences of the whole town was that we have the Olisa, second-in-command to Oba of Ikorodu then, Chief Simeon Babafemi Shobowale, who is on the left and third ranking traditional officer, Aro of Ikorodu, Chief Salami Shonubi with both of them holding the crown at the palace of Awujale in Ijebu-Ode. At this time, it was Awujale Daniel Adesanya Gbelegbuwa I, that was on throne and that was in 1950 around April. With them in the historic picture is the Odi Oba Ikorodu, a symbol of the Oba and Chief Servant and also that of the Oba Awujale, Odi Adaran. Why were we asked to go and bring the beaded crown from Ijebu-Ode? It is because we are the one connected to Ijebu-Ode and Lasunwon had a wife from Ijebu-Ode and we are descendant of that wife, Okikiade. These are clear facts. It is also pertinent to state that when the road was cleared to get the crown at the initial date, two members of Adegorushen family, namely late Prince Gbedeniyi Dosunmu Alagbe, who was the son of the then reigning Oba, Oba Adenaike Alagbe and lateLiadi Saka Odofin volunteered to go and bring the crown, but they were turned back from Ijebu-Ode empty handed. It was after that experience the whole town (Ikorodu) invited us (members of Odujumo-Araba and Owujebe) to help in securing the beaded crown, because before we brought the crown, Ikorodu used to have Oloja. So, it was with the able assistance of the Odujumo-Araba and Owujebe’s families who were connected to Ijebu-Ode that Ikorodu secured its original beaded crown in 1950 from Ijebu-Ode. If anybody can produce this kind of evidences, let him come out. If Owujebe is not our relation, his grandson would not have accompanied us to Ijebu-Ode and accorded with due recognition. Let me now explain the link. Oba Odujumo Araba who was my great grandfather, Alimi Ogbe was his grandson, while Odujumo had three sons (but actual they were more than three children), namely- Odunwa, Bamisedun and Ogbe. While the offsprings of Bamisedun and Ogbe were part of the delegation that went to Ijebu-Ode to collect the crown, the third son, Odunwa’s offsprings were missing because they reside in Lagos Island and because of the difficulties in getting to them and the urgencies involved, the other two sons offspring that were living in town had to go. Now to say that Odujumo-Araba/Owujebe’s connection is a marriage of convenience is a lame talk.

Pa Ogbe showing the picture of Ikorodu delegation that went to Ijebu-Ode to collect the original beaded crown

Impact: Notice of selection of another Ayangbure was issued few weeks back and as a branch of Lasunwon Ruling House, what is the position of Odujumo-Araba on the whole process of selecting another Ayangbure of Ikorodu?

Pa Ogbe: Our position is that we have ruled as Oba (Oloja) before and like said, Odujumo Araba reigned in 1895 as Oba of Ikorodu till 1928 and immediately after him, Oba Owujebe came on throne in June 1929. When the notice was issued, we presented ourselves as being entitle to the throne, because since we brought the crown in 1950, we had not hold any chieftaincy title under Lasunwon Ruling House. The ceremony that heralded our bringing the beaded crown was a big one with thanksgiving service held on 14th day of April, 1950 at Methodist Church, Ita Elewa, Ikorodu with service conducted by late Prof. Bolaji who became the patriarch of the Church and Oba Adenaike Alagbe was the first to wear the original beaded crown. After his passage in November 1951, Oba Samuel Oderinde Ladega came on the throne from Lasunwon and after him was the late Oba Oyefusi who passed away recently from Rademo. In between these reigns, there were chieftaincy titles like the Otunbaship and Odofin positions which we are not consider for because we have not been considered as a branch of the Lasunwon Ruling House. Hence, in 2007, I protested to the Oba-in-council that it is time we are offer a chieftaincy title under Lasunwon Ruling House. Late Oba Oyefusi intervened and called us and the Adegorushen family together, but at first, they denied the knowledge that we are part of Lasunwon. They denied that we are also part of the royal family entitled to Obaship, but I presented to them the evidence which they themselves prepared, a memorandum the Adegorushen prepared and submitted at Savage Commission of Enquiry on review of the salaries of Oba in Lagos State, dated 29th day of October, 1985. At the commission, they presented themselves as the accredited representatives of the Lasunwon Ruling House and in that document they listed Oba Odujumo Araba as number 10 followed by Oba Owujebe as number 11. The interesting thing was that we were never part of the writing of the document and its presentation at the commission, but I was able to lay my hand on a copy because I appeared as a Counsel before the commission at the time. So, how can they deny a document prepared by themselves without our own input and presented before the commission? They immediately conceded that we were also part of the royal family and entitle to Obaship position, but we are not from Lasunwon Ruling House. If we were not from the Lasunwon Ruling House, why were we delegated to go to Ijebu-Ode to bring the original beaded crown and knowing fully well that members of the Adegorushen had initially been sent on the same errand but were turned back? They were told at Ijebu-Ode that they want their elders, and we are their elders and we were given the crown.

Impact: Sir, I will like to know if Odujumo-Araba branch sent any candidate(s) to the Afobajes (Kingmakers) for consideration as next Aynagbure of Ikorodu?

Pa Ogbe: Yes, we did. We presented Prince Emmanuel Olukorede Babajimi Bamisedun, a great great grandson of Odujumo Araba. His father is Sunday, the youngest son of Alegi, who was the second son of Bamisedun. Bamisedun was the second son of Odujumo Araba, the then Oba of Ikorodu. We also presented Olanrewaju Waheed Balogun from Ewujebe side of our family.

Impact: What is the reaction of the family to the purported selection of Chief Sotobi, the Odofin of Ikorodu as Oba-elect by the Kingmakers?

Pa Ogbe: The reaction is one of protest. We object absolutely to the selection. Firstly, he is currently the Odofin of Ikorodu and seeking promotion to Obaship level. These are two different positions. How can one man ascribe a right to hold two positions? We argue against it at the general meeting of Lasunwon Ruling House and during the central committee meeting at Olootu (head) of Lasunwon’s house, Otunba Ezekiel Shodipo. The committee is constituted with five members each from the four branches and at its meeting on 17th day of December, 2014, we protested that if he want to be a candidate for the position of Oba, he must have nothing to do with the Odofin title. He was asked to renounce his Odofin title. Our stand was that he must withdraw from the Odofin title and then, he’ll be considered as a candidate for the vacant Oba position like others. This was debated and resolved at. Secondly, the Adegorushen had entered into a judgment by signing a consensus judgment before Justice Abiru sometime in 2009 when Lambo branch charged them to court that they were not entitled to the vacant position of Odofin then. Then, I saw the handwriting on the wall and they themselves saw it which was why they offered a carrot that the family should let them have the Odofin title and relinquished their claim to any other vacant chieftaincy title to them, therefore, since it is Lasunwon turn to produce an Oba, Adegoruhen cannot claim any entitlement. At the said meeting, after considering all the grounds raised by other branches, the committee put the issue to vote with fifteen representatives from other three branches voting in support and the remaining four from Adegorushen voted against our position. Chief Wole Shodipo from Adegorushen was absent at the said meeting. By implication, the decision of the majority family members with 15 votes was resolved at. Aside these grounds, anothe reason is that he is a member of the Kingmakers that will judge over applications of the contestants to the Ayangbure stool. The principle of law that you cannot be a judge in your own case will then be applicable.

Impact: In my interaction with members of Adegorushen family, their position was that the agreement signed does not in any way affects Obaship title but Chieftaincy titles apart from Oba.

Pa Ogbe: That is an abuse of words and it should be a facile deal. The Oba is the paramount chief “primus inter pas” that’s all. If you recall the Colonial days and the Western Region we have the House of Chiefs consisting of Obas in the region. We have House of Chiefs in the North consisting of the Emirs and Sultans, House of Chiefs in the East consisting of the Obis and Ezes and these are paramount heads of towns that is ‘primus inter pas’. The declaration on the succession of the Oba was made under the Chiefs Law which means the law relate to Chiefs. So, if you say Oba is different from the chief you are right and wrong. Wrong in the sense that the Oba is a chief first & foremost and the head of other chiefs just like you have teachers in schools, you have the headmaster who equally is a teacher. I know of headmasters and principals who teaches subject in classes. When I was at Eko boys high school, the principal of my school was Rev. Odutayo and he was teaching us Latin. Was he not a teacher?

Impact: The purported selection of High Chief Sotobi has generated several reactions and from what you are saying sir, it seems the family is not satisfied with the process. Are you going to challenge it?

Pa Ogbe: It is obvious, and in actual fact, there is a case in court already against the Adegorushen family, Chief kabir Sotobi and the Chieftaincy Committee. You cannot consider this man (Chief Sotobi) as contestant for the throne. He is not entitled to be considered along with other Princes. The process must be reversed and he must leave the seat (Odofin title) for other branches in the family. A suit has already been filled, it ought to have been heard by now but the delay is due to the current strike by the judicial staff.

Impact: I want us to look at the issues of Ayangburen in relation to other Obaship tussles in the division such as Sekumade of Ipakodo, Alajede of Ijede and other chieftaincy tussles. Don’t you think having Ayangbure matter also in Court would be taken traditional matters too far?


Pa Ogbe: I believe the judge will decide as to the content before him according to law. This will not be the first one. There are other cases we’ve heard of in the past. I can still remember the case of Oluwo of Iwo which came to an end in 1994 it was reported in the law report and we have one decided by Justice Alogba. It was an Obaship tussle in Meran. So, it is not unusual if they agree that there is an impartial arbiter. The court is the last resort for the common man and aggrieved persons.

Impact: Aside challenging the issue in the court of law, as an elder and community leader, what do you also think is the way out of the tussle?

Pa Ogbe: Before the death of Oba Salaudeen A.A. Oyefusi, we have on six occasions met to discuss this matter and I said to him that he should send words to Olootu (head) of Lasunwon Ruling house so that we can discuss on the number of branches in Lasunwon? Which branch and who is holding what position? And what would be the order of succession to chieftaincy titles to the family? For six times I spoke with the then Olootu, Chief Fatai Fatuga, but he turned deaf ear to me. If he had taken to my words and that of the late Kabiyesi, we would not be in this tussle.

Impact: There is a proviso in the declaration that states that the succession right should go to the next ruling house if a particular ruling house is unable to provide a successor after a stipulated time. Don’t you think Rademo could activate this clause?


Pa Ogbe: I won’t be surprised, but I am sure that the Chieftaincy Committee will not act hastily when matter is still in Court. Nobody can do anything until the matter is resolved. So, the Court will have to resolve the issue before anybody can do anything on it. What the law was attempting to do with the provision is to save time and prevent the ruling house entitled to presenting candidate from wasting time unduly. It also implies that before now we ought to have foreseen the possibility of the vacancy and be prepared. The law expected that family would have presented candidate(s) and consulted Ifa Oracle within the stipulated time and come up with a preferred candidate. Remember that after the demise of Oba Alagbe in November 1951, Ladega did not ascend the throne until 1953 and that was more than two years. Though as at that time, there was no declaration. The declaration came in 1957 so that time will not be unduly wasted.

Impact: Before the passage of late Ayangbure of Ikorodu, Oba Salaudeen Afolabi Oyefusi, there was controversy over rotation of Chairmanship position of Council of Obas and Chiefs in Ikorodu Division. According to Oba Ajibade Agoro, Ranodu of Imota and late Oba Fatai Oresanya, Alajede of Ijede, there was a provision that supported this. As a legal practitioner of many years standing, a community leader and royal blood, what is your view on this?

Pa Ogbe: This is a political matter. If you can recall that similar issue is still ranging in Oyo State between Alaafin of Oyo and Olubadan of Ibadan. In Lagos State, the Council of Obas and Chiefs have Oba of Lagos (Eko) as Permanent Chairman and Ayangbure of Ikorodu as Second-in-Command. This is a matter of politics, because no Oba is superior to the other, rather, it is only a town that is bigger than the other, so goes the Yoruba adage, “Oba o ju Oba lo, Ilu lo ju lo”. If the government says we are going to have it in a particular way, so be it as far as the populace does not protest against it.


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