Kogi Rejects Ohinoyi of Ebiraland’s Response to Query

Ibrahim Oyewale in Lokoja

The Kogi State Government yesterday rejected the response of the 94-year-old Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, Ado Ibrahim, to a query requesting explanation over his absence during President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent visit to the state.

The frontline Kogi traditional ruler has been the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland since June 2, 1997.

Buhari visited the state on December 29 to inaugurate some completed projects.

The Ohinoyi’s palace was bombed that morning and four people were killed.

On January 7, the state government queried the monarch for his absence during Buhari’s visit.

In a query letter signed by the state Director of Chieftaincy Affairs, Enimola Eniola, the state government said the traditional ruler’s unavailability to receive Buhari is a deliberate action capable of bringing Kogi State and Ebiraland to “grave disrepute.”

Replying to the query in a letter dated January 6, the traditional ruler said he received no official letter informing him of Buhari’s visit to the state.

He also accused Governor Yahaya Bello of lying that he was ill during President Buhari’s visit.

The traditional ruler noted that the governor, who he had not seen for some time, appointed someone he (Ohinoyi) did not know to read on his behalf a welcome speech that was not sanctioned by him during the visit.

The Ohinoyi of Ebiraland described the allegation that he deliberately refused to come out to welcome President Buhari during the visit to Okene as very unfortunate and “unfair to his ripe age and experience.”

He attributed his absence from the ceremony to lack of proper briefing and information from government as well as the bomb blast that claimed the lives of three persons near his palace in the morning of the day of the President’s visit.

The nonagenarian traditional ruler said he did not receive any imitation for the programmes.

Rather, he said the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs told him a night before Buhari’s visit that the President would be coming to his palace for homage, following which he made arrangements to receive the presidential team in his palace.

He expressed surprise that the governor did not enquire about the bomb blast near his palace.

“This Letter of Query is the first communication, written or otherwise from any official of the state to me, without any commiserations or enquiries about the unfortunate bomb blast that led to the intended disruption of Mr. President’s programme, loss of lives of innocent Ebira people, massive damages on my palace and rancour within my domain.

“Nevertheless, I will continue to reign over the good people of Ebira land with good conscience and conviction, as I have done throughout my reign,” he said.

The monarch’s response reads in part: “There was no official letter informing me about the visit of His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria regarding his visit on the 29th of December, 2022, to commission legacy projects executed by His Excellency Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the Executive Governor of Kogi State.

“It was only on the night of 28th of December, 2022, you visited me at about 9:30pm and informed me that Mr. President would be coming to Okene the following day to commission some projects, and that I should stay back in my Palace while the President will be coming to pay me a Courtesy visit upon his arrival.

“On the 29th of December, 2022 at about 8:15am, I received an unofficial copy of the visit programme of Mr. President and I noted that Mr. President was meant to commission the Ohinoyi’s Palace at 10:10am. This observation implied that Mr. President was to commission another Palace other than my current Palace that I have been occupying since I was crowned.

However, in a letter yesterday by Abdulsalam Deedat, Kogi State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftancy Affairs, the government rejected the monarch’s response.

Giving the reason for the rejection, Deedat said the response was conveyed with a title “alien to recognised law”.

“I wish to refer to your letter Ref. No. ETC/CHI/35/VOL.I1/33 dated 6th January, 2023 in respect of the above subject matter and to inform you that the said letter under reference which ought to be your response to a letter of query was not conveyed with the appropriate title of your stool as recognised by the Kogi State Chieftaincy law 2006 and your letter of appointment,” the letter reads.

“Your personal decision to use the title of Atta Ebira and not Ohinoyi of Ebiraland in your official communication is at variance with sections 19a, 27(2b), 33 and schedules I and V of Kogi State Chiefs (Appointment, Deposition and Establishment of Traditional Councils in Kogi State) Law, 2006 and your letter of appointment issued to you with Ref. No. GHLK/KGS/22 dated 2nd June, 1997.

“The title of Atta Ebira is alien to law and not recognised by Government. Therefore any correspondence with that title is unacceptable for official purpose.”

The government ordered the monarch to resubmit a fresh response with the appropriate title by Wednesday.

“In view of the above, you are hereby requested to kindly re-submit your reply to the query with the appropriate title within 48 hours to enable further necessary action to be taken,” the letter reads.

“It is expected that Your Royal Majesty will respond accordingly, please.”

However, investigation revealed that the title, Atta of Ebiraland, has also historically been used for the position of Ohinoyi Ebiraland, though it is no longer particularly in vogue.

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