The last has not been heard about the controversial installation of Gbolahan Lawal as Oniru of Iruland by the Babajide Sanwoolu administration, as residents and property owners in Oniru Estate are currently living in great fear for their lives and property. Since the installation of the new Oniru by the LASG, the estate has been under siege by land grabbers and thugs with policemen from the Lagos State Government backing them up.
Lagosians and indeed all those familiar with Yoruba culture and tradition were amazed to see a new oba announced on a Friday and hurriedly installed by the Lagos State Government two days later on a Sunday, having spent only one (1) night in Ipebi, the traditional seclusion where obas in Lagos are trained and spiritually fortified for a minimum of 7 days prior to installation. Even more surprising was the fact that the person chosen to assume the throne was not previously known as a contender to the throne, and had not previously presented himself or campaigned publicly or in private for it.
Insiders have revealed that the installation is a simple case of daylight robbery, as some powerful individuals in Lagos have successfully schemed the rightful owners of the land out of their inheritance and foisted their own candidate on the throne. Sources within the Abisogun Ruling House and indeed, other ruling houses to the Oniru stool are pointing fingers at the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as the brain behind the imposition and its ultimate beneficiary.
Being the undisputed powerbroker behind the Lagos State Government, nobody was in doubt that the final say of who becomes the Oniru rested with Tinubu, as the government of Sanwoolu is firmly in his pocket. However, rather than play the role of impartial leader as expected of the Jagaban, he decided to corner the throne (and Iru’s few remaining undeveloped plots of prime land) for himself by imposing a proxy oba, loyal to him alone. This he achieved by playing the two main contenders to the throne, Hakeem Ajasa and Aremu Oniru against themselves by telling them outright lies and falsehoods, thereby creating an unnecessary stalemate that he now pretended to resolve by bringing in a so-called “neutral” candidate to take the throne. This was successfully done using police intimidation and other instruments of the state government at his disposal to follow through on the imposition.
The Ajasa group allege that the Jagaban told them they have a weak claim to the throne (as it is Ajasa’s mother, not father that was related to a past Oniru), so they should accept settlement from Aremu Oniru and allow him a rancour-free ascension to the throne.
This is where it gets interesting: the angry members of the Hakeem Ajasa group are now crying foul that Tinubu deceptively offered a paltry N20 million naira to the whole family to share as settlement, which he knew would be rejected.
Having created a stalemate between the two opposing camps with his deception, the coast was now clear for Tinubu to bring in his “wildcard”, a former police ADC and loyalist of his who would do his bidding on the throne. What is most infuriating to the Ajasa camp is that Jagaban told them that Ajasa’s claim to the throne was weak and so his candidacy could not fly, whereas the person he brought to occupy the throne has an equally weak claim. A family member lamented in disgust that “Lawal’s mother and Ajasa’s mother are blood sisters, both are from Isale-Eko but are not Oniru descendants. Yet he rejected one for having a weak claim and imposed the other. Where is the justice in that?”
Already signs that all is not well in Iruland are evident as the new oba has kicked off his reign as the “Ajagungbale” (one who steals other’s land with force of arms) king he was intended to be. Several adverts personally signed by him have been placed in papers claiming all land in Oniru Estate that is yet to be developed, as well as spuriously claiming several properties that legally belong to individuals and institutions within Iru as “family land”. Thugs and miscreants claiming to be acting under his authority have also been unleashed on Iru with his blessing, beginning with their invasion and total vandalization of the Oniru palace on the day of his announcement as the Government’s choice. Obviously, these characters and those behind them have no “omoluabi” spirit in them and fear no man, nor the ancestors or gods.
In the past few days, these thugs are being sent out daily from Oniru palace to paste obnoxious notices on undeveloped plots of land within Oniru estate, harassing property owners and claiming ownership of their legally obtained land on behalf of the newly imposed Oniru. Over 500 of these thugs stormed the Oniru beach over the weekend and vandalized the various fun spots dotting the beach, destroying the property of business owners who had legally rented their spaces from the previous Oniru.
Can the Lagos State Government feign ignorance of all these happenings? Are they refusing to intervene because obviously, Lawal and his thugs are backed by a “higher power”? Property owners and residents of Oniru Estate are currently living in fear for their lives and investments, as these thugs have taken over the estate and have police from the State Government backing them up. Where is the Lagos State Property Protection Law of 2016 when individuals are grabbing other people’s land with the active connivance of the Lagos State Government?
While some of the family members have accepted their fate, saying that “you cannot fight the government and win”, others have vowed not to take this gross deception and injustice by Tinubu lying low. They described Lawal’s emergence as a slap in the face of tradition and natural justice. A senior member of the Abisogun family summarized Lawal’s emergence by saying, “Tradition dictates that Ruling Houses nominate candidates, the Kingmakers vote and consult Ifa in making a choice, and the Government approves and ratifies their choice. Here, Lawal was nominated by Tinubu and not a Ruling House, Tinubu consulted himself as Ifa, Tinubu cast his single vote for him as the sole kingmaker, and Tinubu ratified & approved him through a figurehead governor that was powerless to do otherwise. Only in Nigeria will a government actively participate in the daylight robbery of its citizens of their inheritance.”
It remains to be seen how the saga will end or whether the Abisogun Ruling House will seek legal redress when the courts resume from the Covid-induced break. However, urgent intervention is required to avoid the inevitable breakdown of law and order that Lawal and his thugs will soon cause in Iruland with his Ajagungbale antics. Obaship and indeed Government is a continuum and it is assumed by law that all sales and covenants entered into by the previous Oniru over any land still subsist and will be recognized in the eyes of the law.
This is why Nigeria cannot move forward despite over 20 years of uninterrupted democracy. It is precisely why serious conversations need to start now on the fate of our dear country as we prepare for 2023. We cannot stand by while those who brazenly misuse the apparatus of government to cheat and steal from their own citizens are allowed to make a play for the leadership of this nation at this delicate time. Nigerians need to examine the current happenings in Oniru Estate and critically investigate the character and behaviour of the so-called leaders they elect into public office. Leaders who have no regard for the rule of law or the rights of its citizens but are ready to jeopardize our collective peace for their personal, selfish gain should never be allowed to rule this country ever again.