Osogbo, the home of Osun Festival that celebrates the goddess of River Osun has been thrown into upheaval by the appearance and celebration of the last Osun Festival in August by Mr. Jimoh Oyetunji Olanipekun, the Oyinlola-PDP appointed traditional ruler for the ancient town. It is the belief of the indigenes of the town that whoever leads the annual celebration to the Osun River is the bona fide Ataoja,
Before the last governor of the state left, he single-handedly installed Mr. Olanipekun who has no known history of being related to any of the royal families, Brigadier Oyinlola, with the connivance of some Osogbo elders, installed Olanipekun as Ataoja in a most bizarre and dramatic manner during a public holiday.
The waters of Ataoja Stool had been earlier muddied by the last Ataoja, Late Alaiyeluwa Oba Matanmi who had a declaration that is still causing rancor among the families. There were only two lines in the past: the male line made up of descendants of the Ijesha founders of Osogbo AND the female line made up of descendants of a female child who subsequently ruled the ancient town. Late Oba Matanmi belonged to this line. Reference: Samuel Adenle I, Ataoja of Osogbo, Portrait of a Yoruba Oba, 2006, Chapter 2 by Depo Adenle (with Tola Adenle).
Ile Oluawo among which are the descendants of late Oba Samuel Adenle (Oba Matanmi’s predecessor), the Adejobis AND Ile Gbeemu, the Houses of the Male Line that should produce the Ataoja cried ‘foul’ and filed a suit at an Osun State High Court. Brigadier Governor Oyinlola disregarded the cries and tradition of the people and the court filing instituted by the Gbeemu and Ile Oluawo families. Many have raised eyebrows at this disrespect of a people’s tradition since Oyinlola’s late father ruled Okuku near Osogbo which implies he could one day vie for the Olokuku Stool. How, many helpless Osogbo indigenes have wondered aloud, would Oyinlola feel if a government functionary one day usurps the position of his hometown’s institution and pick an Olokuku?
Now, an Osun State High Court sitting in Osogbo, the state capital, has served Mr. Jimoh Oyetunji Olanipekun, “a notice of consequence of disobedience of order of court (Form 48)”, following his refusal to vacate the stool as ordered by courts.
“The notice came on the heel of rulings of two different high courts in the state, voiding and setting aside the installation of Olanipekun with a declaration that the Ataoja’s stool was vacant.
Justice Adeyinka Aderibigbe of an Osogbo High Court had through his ruling delivered on February 18, 2011, voided the nomination and installation of Olanipekun on the grounds that there were irregularities in the process of his selection, nomination and installation.
While reaffirming Aderibigbe’s order, Justice Jide Falola of another State High Court, declared the Ataoja’s stool as vacant, maintaining that anybody posing as Ataoja of Osogbo was an impostor.
However, Oba Olanipekun has not for once obeyed the two High Courts’ rulings, as he persistently continued occupying the Ataoja’s stool in full capacity.
The embattled traditional ruler was on October 24, 2011, served with the notice of consequence of disobedience of court order, threatening that Oba Olanipekun would be guilty of contempt of court and would be liable to be committed to prison.
The notice, which was made available to OSUN DEFENDER last Wednesday, insisted that until the ruling of Justice Aderibigbe is set aside or reversed on appeal, it remains subsisting and abiding.
Condemning the disobedience of the traditional ruler to the court order, a Non-Governmental Organisation, the Campaign for Democracy and Rights of the People (CDRP), said Oba Olanipekun’s continuous parade as Ataoja of Osogbo was illegal.
According to the human rights group, Olanipekun’s action was an affront to Nigerian judiciary and a deliberate circumvention of the law.
The group maintained that it was contemptuous and morally sacrilegious for Olanipekun to continue staying in office despite the rulings of the two state high courts.
The CDRP then called on Governor Rauf Aregbesola and the Nigeria Police Force, to enforce the ruling of the courts on the Ataoja’s stool, even as it commended Nigerian journalists for their coverage on the case.” – OSUN DEFENDER, a respected Osogbo-based NigerianNational newspaper.
Who knows what will happen next considering that Nigeria is a country ruled and ruined these last eight years by a party – the PDP – that has denigrated many societal institutions, including the institution of traditional ruler.
Mr. Olanipekun’s ancestors were Egungun [Masquerades] Opeleba in the Court of Ataojas and were never in line for Obaship. If Olanipekun gets away with this travesty, there would be another sad chapter added to the degradation of traditional rulers who have become near go-fers in the hands of political overlords. He may just get away with it in a country where there are not only fake bishops, fake drugs, fake policemen, etcetera but where houses that are NOT for sale carry the unusual “NOT for sale” sign boldly and irreverently painted on such properties! That essay will come up soon.