Lagos Kingmaker Defends Oba Akiolu’s Ascendance to Throne

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Akinwale Akintunde

The Olumegbon of Lagos, Chief Fatai Olumegbon, Tuesday defended the ascendance of the Oba of Lagos, Alhaji Rilwan Akiolu, to the throne before an Ikeja High Court.
Olumegbon, while being cross-examined by counsel to the claimants, Mr. Babatunde Fashanu (SAN), told the court that Oba Akiolu was chosen by Ifa, the gods of divination.

Princes Adedoyin Adebiyi and Rasheed Modile, who are both of the Akinsemoyin ruling house of Lagos, had dragged Akiolu to court to challenge his installation as the Oba.
Adebiyi and Modile were candidates chosen by their ruling house to contest the Obaship in 2003 after the demise of Oba Adeyinka Oyekan, Akiolu’s predecessor on the throne.

However, they lost out to Akiolu whom they alleged had no rightful claim to the throne.
Adebiyi and Modile are claiming that Akiolu was not entitled to ascend the throne because he is not a member of a ruling royal family by virtue of not being a direct descendant of Oba Ado, the first Oba of Lagos.

The Lagos State governor, state Attorney General, Prince Babatunde Akitoye and Chief Junaid Eko, head of the traditional white cap chiefs of Lagos, were joined as respondents in the suit.
Other respondents include Prince Kola Balogun and Mr. Musibau Kelani, who are head and secretary of the Eshilokun royal family, respectively.

At Tuesday’s proceedings before Justice Adebowale Candide-Johnson, Olumegbon and another witness, Prince Adebayo Kelani told the court that there was nothing like a 90-day rule in the crowning the Oba of Lagos.
Olumegbon, who is among the kingmakers, insisted that several Obas of Lagos were crowned without observing anything like the 90-day rule, while Kelani, a former Director of Education in Lagos State, said there were at least six of such occasions, including that of an Oba that was crowned on the same day his predecessor died.

According to Olumegbon, the late Oba Dosunmu was chosen on the same day his predecessor died.
“Dosunmu was chosen on the same day his predecessor died, same for my grandfather.
“We received the applications of those who were selected by their various ruling houses and to ensure transparency, we requested that the names be submitted through the Olori Omo Oba.

“Moreover, all the envelopes containing the names of the applicants as received, were sent for Ifa divination and one by one, the names were screened, when it was Akiolu’s turn, they shouted eji ogbe; that this is the man that will rule well and bring desired changes.

“Apart from that, Akiolu was the first candidate unanimously selected by all the six kingmakers. In fact, he scored 6-0,” the king maker told the court.
Olumegbon said when one particular name was checked by the Ifa priests, it was rejected outright, explaining that the person drank a lot, was a womaniser and would not have handled the position well.
When asked by counsel to the claimants, Fashanu as to why the kingmakers now take minutes to meet, as against the customary practice where they used to take much longer, Olumegbon explained that the older kingmakers were not literate that’s why they did not keep minutes.

“What is happening today wouldn’t have been easy to defend if not for the records,” he added.
He further told the court that he followed the process in the selection of Oba Akiolu and that due process was followed.
“Any member of the kingmakers could crown the Oba and Oba Akiolu was crowned by a member of Eletu Odibo family.”
He explained that every eligible prince must trace his lineage to the Ado through the two ruling houses – Olugunkutere and Akinsemoyin – excluding the Sokun family that was settled with a special title.

Explaining why he was a witness, since his family was not joined as a defendant in the suit, Prince Kelani said his family has to be a witness in the matter because it concerns them.
Justice Candide-Johnson adjourned the matter till November 8 for adoption of address by the counsel.