Aro of Ikorodu: Controversy Trails Aro-Derufe’s Selection
-Olootu, family insist on Agbaakin
-Section of family protest, sent another name to the govt, palace.
– Family to sue another family that laid claim to title
As if cursed, the traditional institution in Ikorodu is facing many crises in an attempt to install a new Aro of Ikorodu with members of Aro-Derufin Chieftaincy family disputing the outcome of the process of selection.
While the Olootu, Aro Derufe, Chiefs (Mrs) Wonuola Agnes Ajasa and the family are insisting that one Chief Segun Agbaakin is the Aro-elect base on the outcome of the selection processes, a section of the family has forwarded the name of one Mr Sunday Ayodele Ogunsami to the government and Ayangbure palace as their candidate for the vacant Aro position.
The Title of Aro In Ikorodu
The Aro title is the third in hierarchy of Ikorodu traditional system after the Oba (Ayangbure) who is the head and the Commander-in-Chief of traditional institutions and closely followed by the Olisa who head the most important traditional institution-Osugbo.
These three titles also reflects the ingenuity of Ikorodu and by extension the Yoruba ancestors in term of traditional administration. According to the arrangement, the Remo/Oga lineage who were the first in term of settlement pattern occupy the number position, while the Benin/Oliha’s lineage who happens to the second major settlers in what is today known as Ikorodu occupy the second position and the next wave of migrants occupy the third most important position, thus, the Yoruba sayings, “Ajeeji lo n keta ilu” (You cannot adequately administer a community without the residents).
Following the demise of Chief Kehinde Oshinsanya Efolu in 2015, the position of Aro of Ikorodu has been vacant and according to the head of Aro Derufi, Chief (Mrs) Wonuola Ajasa, efforts have been made by the family to fill the vacancy created by the demise of the former Aro of whom she stated accorded her family due recognition during his life time.
THE IMPACT gathered that two chieftaincy families – Aro Derufi and Efolu Chieftaincy families are entitled to occupy the number three traditional position in Ikorodu. According to oral tradition by the Derufe family, the title originally belong to their family but it was given to the Efolu’s ancestor by their own ancestor who at death do not have a matured male child to keep the title thereby, arranged with his friend, Efolu, to take the Aro title after his demise but should make the position available to his family whenever any of his male Children attained maturity.
According to Chief (Mrs) Wonuola Ajasa, “We, the Aro Derufi chieftaincy family originally owned the title while the Efolu (the second chieftaincy family that is also entitled to the throne) happened to be a friend of our father who was the first Aro of ikorodu. Due to the fact that our ancestor did not have a matured male child, he made arrangement with his friend, Efolu, to take up the title with the understanding that he would revert the title to his family once any of his children attained maturity and can handle position of responsibility.”
Chief Wonuola alleged that the Efolus failed to honour the arrangement their ancestor had with the Efolus and as a result are liable to dire consequences due to the oath the two parties had when making the arrangement.
“Efolus refused to revert the title back to us and they succeeded in producing seven Aro of Ikorodu in succession thereby denying we the original owners. We learnt that when they consulted Ifa Oracle, the message they got was “Ogbe fohun folohun” (Ifa oracle divination which says give back to the rightful owner to stop occurrence of untoward happenings). It was after the title was reverted to us that we made late Chief Shonubi the Aro of Ikorodu “ the family explained.
THE IMPACT gathered that after the demise of Chief Shonubi, the former Aro of Ikorodu, it was agreed and resolved that the two familes, Aro Derufi and Efolu Chieftaincy families shall both be entitled to the Aro of Ikorodu chieftaincy title in a rotation format.
Chief Faniyi Agbaakin, the Olumale Moro, Ikorodu and a prominent member of Aro-Derufi family also in another interview stated the importance and the historical development of the title , “Aro plays very prominent roles in the traditional affairs of Ikorodu especially in the Oba’s palace and in the Osugbo cult where he is one of the chieftains.”
Chief Agbaakin also confirmed that there are two chieftaincy houses from where Aro can emerge from in Ikorodu namely – Aro-Derufi and Efolu and according to him the historical development among the two different houses resulted in rotational arrangement in filling the position of Aro of Ikorodu whenever vacancy occurs.
“After the death of Derufi, it was Sonode Ekase that succeeded him and he was on the throne for about 40years. After him, Efolu family produced his successor and has been like that. The last Aro of Ikorodu was from Efolu in person of Chief Kehinde Efolu. It is now our turn to produce the Aro.”
But the controversy is not between the Aro-Derufi and Efolu rather among the major actors of the former.
Controversy Surrounding Aro selection Process
After the demise of Chief Kehinde Efolu, the seven branches of Aro-Derufi at a general meeting agreed that the race to fill the vacant Aro position should be thrown open and that each branch should produce a candidate.
In an attempt to fill the vacant position, the family constituted a 7man committee saddled with the selection of the next candidate for Aro position. A major part of the process is to consult Ifa Oracle among other processes.
Each of the seven branches of Aro-Derufi which are – Odusona, Agbaakin, Adelanrin, Ajilo, Sorefun, Odunwa and Ekase branches were represented in the committee by a representative each. But the process that should have united the family in taking a common decision if good reasoning had prevailed turned to a source of discord.
Members of the selection committee, THE IMPACT gathered, were the Olootu Wonuola Ajasa (Agbaakin branch), Mr Yekinni Babatunde Agunfon (Odusona), Pa Amos Olabinjo Oshin (Adelanrin), Mr Mudashiru Anoba (Sorefun), Mr Tekobo Odusanya (Ajilo), Mr Tajudeen Idowu (Ekase) and Mr Shonibare (Sorefun).
According to Chief Wonuola, the 7man selection committee was later expanded due to some developments to include Mr Osinowo Iyiola (Agbaakin), Mr Korede (Ekase), Chief Sikiru Disu (Odusona), Chief Faniyi Agbaakin (Agbaakin) and Mr Jamiu Oloja (Aro-Derufe Secretary from Ajilo branch) and a retired Permanent Secretary.
Explaining further on how the committee was expanded, Chief Wonuola stated that when it was agreed that the family head who also doubled as the Presiding Officer should be independent, Mr Iyiola Osinowo was brought in as the eighth member to replace the branch she was representing.
“Also, due to the old age of Chief Yekinni Babatunde Agufon, who was the original family secretary and the fact that he is no longer physically capable, we brought in Mr Jamiu Oloja to replace him. These were the original committee members saddled with the responsibility of selecting the next Aro of Ikorodu.”
After about a year, only three branches showed interests and presented a candidate each to the general family. The candidates Chief Segun Agbaakin from Agbaakin branch, Chief Sunday Odusona from Odusona branch and Mr Jamiu Akilo from Ajilo branch. The first step taken by the committee was the screening of the candidates by looking into their backgrounds, academic qualifications, financial standings, their knowledge of the position they vying for and characters among others.
Services of two legal practitioners, Barrister Bola Tijani and Barrister Omojumi were sought. These two were joined by two Aro-Derufi members.
According to two sources within the family who were corroborated by the Olootu Wonuola, Chief Segun Agbaakin was returned by the lawyers as the best from the screening conducted for the three candidates. According to Chief Wonuola, the three candidates were made to swear to an affidavit in the court that they will abide by the final outcome of the process and would not cause any trouble.
In the Declaration of Allegiance dated 5th day of October, 2016, signed by the candidates in the High Court of Lagos, Ikorodu Judicial Division, the candidates pledged to submit themselves to rules and regulations guiding the screening processes, accept the result and never challenge the result of the selection process.
It was after these that the family also consulted the Ifa oracle which was brought into town from far away village. On the day of the divination at the Baale Itunmeko’s house, all the committee members were present and it was the candidate of the Agbaakin candidate that was first presented before the oracle, followed by Odusona and Ajilo candidates.
“After the consultation with the Ifa Oracle, the Agbaakin candidate’s divination revealed Eji-ogbe which was the best outcome and the revelations of the other candidates were also revealed to everyone that was present which included representatives of the 7 branches of the family and it was agreed that Agbaakin who emerged as the overall best should be presented as the Aro-elect. But to my surprise, we started hearing all sought of accusations that the processes were not transparent and that the name of Odusona candidate, Chief Sunday has been presented and he is enjoying the support of stakeholders in Ikorodu. But he is not the candidate that emerged in the process. Again, when we write the Ikorodu local Government on the position of the family and presented our candidate, we were told that Sunday’s name has been presented” Chief Wonuola stated.
According to the head of the family, all the seven members of the committee signed the result of the processes which produced Chief Segun Agbaakin as the candidate of the Aro-Derufi Chieftaincy family for the position of the Aro of Ikorodu.
But two prominent members of the Aro-Derufi Chieftaincy family, Chief Sikiru Disu, the Laketu-Oganla of Ikorodu and Chief Faniyi Agbaakin , the Olumale Moro, Ikorodu and a chieftain of the Agbaakin branch, have faulted the process which they described as unfair.
According Chief Faniyi Agbaakin in an interview at Aro-Derufi Chieftaincy family house at Ita-Aro, Ikorodu, “The Committee set-up by the family was not truthful to the course. The proposed consultation with the Ifa oracle was not properly done because some us insisted that the consultation with the Ifa must be carried out at our family and ancestral house in Ita-Aro and not in any other place but they refused. They went to the house of the Baale Itunmeko, Chief Yekinni Agunfon. On that day, members of the committee were prevented from knowing that the Ifa priest had been around since 7am in one of the committee’s member’s house near the Baale’s place where they had concluded everything and we did not knoe about it until around 11am but since it is not our family member’s house we did not want to create any scene. They also conducted screening on the same day but we as member of the committee did not know the result of the exercise till date. But when we got back to the general meeting of the family we made them realized that it is not the committee that will dictate for the family.”
In his own reaction, Chief Sikiru Disu stated, “I am a member of the committee alongside Chief Faniyi and since we started meeting, some members of the committee were found of organizing another meeting to change decisions of the committee. What actually caused the problem is the fact that some members of the committee invited Ifa priest without the knowledge of others and three months after the screening, they have not release the result. It was after the screening they went to call Ifa priest and we were prevented from knowing about it until around 11am on that day that we got wind that the priest had been around since 8am. It was reported that Eji Ogbe appeared for the number one candidate but who the number one candidate is was not brought to our knowledge. Likewise, the number two and three candidates. It was after three months they brought the agreement of the committee that one Segun is the preferred choice of the committee for the vacant position of the Aro of Ikorodu that I refused to sign because I was never privy to all that were done despite being a member of the committee. At the general committee where they presented the outcome it was rejected because the process was not conducted in our family house in Ita-Aro.”
Chief Disu while revealing his position on the matter to our reporter stated, “In my present traditional position as Laketu-Oganla covering the seven Parafa towns belonging to the Aro-Derufi a my position is that Chief Sunday Ayodele Ogunsami is our candidate for the vacant Aro position because the screening that was conducted picked him.”
In correspondences dated 22 and 25 February, 2016, and signed by Chief Sikiru Disu, the name of Chief Sunday Ayodele Ogunsanmi from Odusona branch of Aro-Derufi Chieftaincy family was sent as the next Aro of Ikorodu to the Lagos State Commissioner for Local Government & Chieftaincy Affairs, Ayangbure of Ikorodu, HRM Oba Kabiru Shotobi, Executive Secretary, Ikorodu Local Government and the Iwarefa Osugbo Abalaye among others.
A prominent member of the family who was also a member of the selection committee but did not want his name in print told THE IMPACT that the purported correspondences were nullity and cannot stand the test of serious scrutiny.
“In what capacity did Disu (Chief Sikiru Disu) wrote and signed a letter purportedly presenting a person as the next Aro of Ikorodu? Is he the head of the family and at what meeting was it resolved that the name sent is the preferred choice of our family? Definitely, it is not in the family interest. The screening and the Ifa consultation produced a preferred choice and we all signed the document. How then can anyone take it upon himself to go against the family’s wish if it is not to satisfy personal interest?” the source queried.
Emergence of Another Branch
While still battling with who the authentic candidate is between Chief Sunday Ayodele Ogunsanmi and Chief Segun Agbaakin, Aro-Derufi Chieftaincy family may have to battle with another problem and this time from outside the family.
THE IMPACT gathered that another family, Eyita, is laying claim to the Aro title. But according to the head of Aro-Derufi family, Chief Agnes Ajasa, the Eyita family is not entitled to Aro title.
“While we are still trying to resolve the internal crisis, a family which called itself Eyita is claiming that they are also entitled to the Aro title. They are claiming that there are five families that are entitled to the Aro title in Ikorodu and they (Eyita) is the next ruling house. They are part of Efolu Chieftaincy family and they are creating problem by splitting into smaller units.”
“These people that called themselves Eyita are the Itameta family who has conflict with Efolus over a land matter which is still in court and which we are joinder. We are going to sue them because they are in a way related to Aro-Derufi and not entitled to the Aro title in Ikorodu”
Position of the Ayangbure Palace
Meanwhile, a reliable source at the Ayangbure palace, Ikorodu, informed THE IMPACT that the delay in the installation of next Aro of Ikorodu is strictly caused by the internal crisis of the Aro-Derufi family.
“The kabiyesi has no vested interest in who becomes the next Aro of Ikorodu. He will gladly accept any popular and credible candidate presented by the family concern. In the Aro of Ikorodu case, the palace was notified about a particular candidate only for another set of the family to present another name as the preferred one. This is a matter for the Aro-Derufi family to resolve by agreein on a particular candidate and not the palace” said the palace source.
The source also added that the Ayangbure palace has been prompt in handling chieftaincy and other matters in Ikorodu. He cited the case of Balogun of Ikorodu which he said will soon be resolved because kabiyesi had since passed his confirmation to necessary authority.
The source also stated that the palace had been advising families to ensure that younger elements are presented for traditional positions because of the strenuous nature of the duties attached to the traditional positions. The source added, “the task of presenting credible and popular candidate lies with the families. They are to present whomever they want to represent their interests but they must also bear in mind that such person must be a good ambassador not only of the family presenting him or her but entire Ikorodu community”
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