Fourteen years after his installation, the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, Monday appeared at an Ikeja High Court as a defendant in a suit challenging his emergence as the paramount ruler of Lagos, saying he is the bona fide traditional ruler.
â€œI am here to justify my appointment, you cannot build something on nothing, it will be broken.
â€œBy native law and customs and by law, I am the bona fide Oba of Lagos,â€ said Akiolu, who was accompanied to the court by 10 white cap chiefs.
Akioluâ€™s installation as the Oba of Lagos is being challenged by Princes Adedoyin Adebiyi and Rasheed Modile, two members of the Lagos royal family, reported the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Joined as respondents in the suit are the state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, the Attorney-General of Lagos State, Prince Babatunde Akitoye and Chief Junaid Eko.
Both Adebiyi and Modile are claiming that Akiolu should not be on the throne, because he is not a member of a ruling royal family by not being a direct descendant of Oba Ado, the first Oba of Lagos.
According to the claimants, only members of the Ologun Kutere and Akinsemoyin ruling houses are entitled to the throne.
They also alleged that proper customary rules and procedures were not followed when he was appointed Oba in May 2003.
But in his defence, Akiolu who was in court with his counsel, Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni, told the court of the procedure he followed before his installation as the Oba of Lagos.
â€œAfter I made my intention known to my family that I wanted to be Oba of Lagos, I applied for the throne.
â€œIn May 2003, the head of the kingmakers and the then Sole Administrator of Lagos Island Council called at my residence.
â€œAt that time I was preparing to go to the mosque and I was told that I had received a letter from the state government and the State Executive Council.
â€œThe letter accepted my nomination that I have been approved to be a worthy successor to the late Oba of Lagos.
â€œIt will be exactly 14 years tomorrow (May 23) that my appointment was approved.
â€œBy the grace of Almighty Allah, there is nothing like rotation in the succession to the throne of Oba of Lagos,â€ Akiolu said.
Before cross-examining Akiolu, the lawyer to the claimants, Mr. Babatunde Fashanu (SAN), told the court that for the purpose of the trial, Akiolu should be addressed as the defendant and not as the Oba of Lagos while in court.
â€œI apply that all referrals to the defendant as the Oba of Lagos should be expunged from the records of this honourable court.
â€œWithin the walls of this courtroom, he is a defendant and when we step out of the courtroom, I will lie down and greet him as â€˜Kabiyesiâ€™ because I am like a son to him,â€ he said.
Akiolu also told the court that he had a prior relationship with Fashanuâ€™s father when he was working as a lawyer during his early years of legal practice 32 years ago.
â€œI know your father, I used to carry files for him when we were working together,â€ the traditional ruler said.
Fashanuâ€™s request to expunge referrals of Akiolu as Oba of Lagos was, however, not granted by the court.
In responding to Fashanuâ€™s question seeking to know whether proper customary procedure was followed when he became Oba, Akiolu said he was installed according to the customs of Lagos as Oba by kingmakers.
â€œAkiolu is a direct descendant of Oba Ologun Kutere, there is no registered declaration for the throne.
â€œIt is the old customs and the recommendations of the Price Commission which is over 100 years ago that are still valid till today.â€
Akiolu also debunked claims that the Akiolu royal family was not one of the ruling houses because it was non-existent.
He said: â€œDespite the letter from Lagos State Government confirming my appointment as Oba and stating that I am from the Akiolu royal family, I want to make it clear that a royal family and ruling house means the same thing.
â€œMy appointment as the king is the first time in history that kingmakers will be unanimous in selecting an Oba of Lagos.â€
Justice A. Candide-Johnson adjourned the case till June 19 for continuation of the trial.