Home Inside Africa Nigeria The Sad Story Of Ijoko Ota, A Town Pitted Against Itself

The Sad Story Of Ijoko Ota, A Town Pitted Against Itself


Ijoko Ota, Ogun State

Ijoko Ota is a town in Ado- Odo/ Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State with its population swelling up daily due to the mass movement of the people from Lagos State to the town. The town is about a 30 kilometres from Lagos. In fact, hardly would anybody know that he or she was not in Lagos State as it was just a road that separated it from the State of Excellence, hence the residents think and behave as ?Lagosians?. In spite of the peace that the town was known for in years past, the recent happenings in Ijoko has thrown residents into with some of them fleeing the town.
Recently, no fewer than six people were killed and many others severely injured when the Aworis and the Egbas engaged themselves in battle. In the melee, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr. Sunny Ukata, was shot in the eye by protesters. He was immediately rushed to an undisclosed hospital in Abeokuta.
The clash, which started with a contest for the control of lands by the two groups in the Aworis led by Oba Fatai Matanmi and the Egbas, led by Oba Lasisi Ogunseye has resulted into loss of lives and properties. In the past, residents were attacked, maimed or killed by these thugs.
Since April 2010, several lives have been lost in mysterious circumstances. An example was Monsuru Ogunseye who has been missing since 2010. He was allegedly kidnapped by thugs suspected to be working for Oba Matanmi.
Just last week, pandemonium broke out in the town when suspected thugs set the Palace of Oba Lasisi Ogunseye the Onijoko Of Ijoko of Egbaland ablaze.
Apart from the Palace that was set on fire, properties worth millions of naira were also destroyed while several people were injured during the fracas. Although the cause of the latest confrontation between both factions is yet to be ascertained men of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Sango, were seen stationed outside the burnt palace of Oba Lasisi Ogunseye. Lasisi Ogunseye was reportedly on a trip to Ibadan when the incident happened. Armed policemen from Odo-Eran and Ota police divisions were seen patrolling the area. It was learnt that the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Ikemefuna Okoye, had also visited Ogunseye?s palace.
Speaking to Daily Times, Prince Mohammed Ogunseye said, the hoodlums invaded the palace in a commando style destroying every properties they saw in the Palace ?Documents, clothes, vehicles including that of Baales that are loyal to Oba Ogunseye were also destroyed, they also went to those Baales houses destroying their properties including a car that were parked in the compound? ?Very important documents, even the king?s crown were burnt. They also injured a palace worker, Kunle. I had to hide somewhere.?
I was able to identify some of the hoodlums, they were Lukmon, Gafari, Kayode Ajala who we were able to see his voters Card at the scene of the incident.?
Also narrating his ordeal, the Asiwaju of Ijokoland, Chief Moruf Amodu said, ?We were holding our usual meeting at the palace when we heard sounds of gunshots, we had to run with some of us scaling the fence.?
A mechanic beside Ogunseye?s palace, Mr. Bolaji Idowu, said he was battling with how to raise funds to fix the windscreens of his customer?s cars that were smashed. He said, ?My colleagues and I ran away when we heard gunshots. When we came back, we met our cars damaged. Some customers have come to take their cars while others may insist that we repair theirs.? Ogunseye was not around when our correspondent visited his palace.
When Daily Times visited the palaces, the insigna in front of the palace of Matanmi reads, ?Welcome to the palace of Onijoko land HRM Oba Abuldul Fatai Alani Matanmi, Onijoko of Ijoko ,Ota,Otutu Bi Osun 1.Government Approved?; The one in front of Lasisi Ogunseye?s palace reads ?Welcome to the palace of the Alayeluwa Oba Kolapo Ilufemiloye 1, the Onijoko Of Ijoko of Egbaland.? Reacting, Matanmi?s son, Prince Semiu, denied the attack when our correspondent visited his father?s palace, which was under construction.
Meanwhile, a detachment of Police from the Ogun State Command, Eleweran, Abeokuta has allegedly recovered a cache of arms at one of the palaces while some suspects were arrested. The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Muyiwa Adejobi, said the command was investigating the matter and would bring culprits to justice. His words: ?Following the recent crises that rocked Ijoko Otta town in Ado Odo Otta Local Government area of Ogun State, the OGUN State Police Command has embarked on proper investigation by pouncing on the perpetrators of the crises that lasted for days and arrested (9) nine suspects with arms and ammunition.?
It would be recalled that some suspected hoodlums had been on the rampage in Ijoko Otta area of the Ogun State in connection with the lingering Onijoko Obaship tussle and set ablaze some houses while several people were injured. ?The crises were brought under control with the efforts of the Area commander in charge of Otta Area Command, ACP Titilayo Kayode and the Divisional Police Officer Otta, CSP Gabreal Idibe before the matter was eventually transferred to the Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) on the directive of the Deputy Commissioner of Police in the Department of Finance and Administration and Second-in-Command, DCP Haliru Gwandu, for thorough investigation.
Police teams from the DCI, Police Mobile Force, coordinated by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Department of Operations, Ogun State Command, DCP Egberebi Egbuson, to conduct search and raids on the palaces and premises of the two disputing rulers on 27th December at night during which nine suspects were arrested.
Also, 12 locally made single-barrel guns, two pump-action guns, 191 cartridges, two cutlasses, one axe, charms and masquerade clothing were recovered in the palace of Oba Montanmi and one butt of a locally made single-barrel gun was recovered in the palace of Oba Ogunseye who has also been indicted by some suspects arrested in a case of shooting and wounding that occurred at a filling station in Agbado area of Ogun State on 26th December 2014.? The command has invited the two obas for interrogation on their involvements in the crises that rocked the area for days.
?The suspects will soon appear in court after the investigation into the matter has been concluded with a view to finding a lasting solution to any act of violence and break down of law and order in the area and other parts of the state; and make the case to serve as deterrent to those who are fond of creating crises on OBASHIP and land cases in Ogun State,? Muyiwa addedd. Also, some residents who spoke to Daily Times also said that Ijoko town had witnessed peace before the land speculators came to town but immediately information went round the town that the Matanmi group was around, there was confusion.
It was gathered that anytime he was in the precincts of Ijoko town, the residents are usually scared of being attacked by his thugs. He was said to be entangled in a chieftaincy dispute with the people of Ijoko. Several cases were instituted in the courts. But there has been no solution to the lingering communal crisis. The town had witnessed a lot of crises since 2006 when a dispute arose over the obaship stool in the town.
The Ogun State Government had issued a statement that the coronet monarchs installed by the Olowu should stop parading themselves as Obas of their respective villages. It was gathered that a group under the aegis of Awori Consultative Council (ACC), staged a peaceful demonstration to former President Olusegun Obasanjo?s farm in Ota to express their displeasure at the happenings in the town. The protest later degenerated into serious crisis as many lives were lost.
The prompt intervention of anti-riot and regular policemen of the state command defused the tension while two armoured tanks with registration numbers NPF 2360 and NPF 676C were positioned at the Sango- Ota roundabout. The policemen, who were led to the scene by a Chief Superintendent of Police, Mr. Wale Olokoda, were able to pacify the two groups as they appealed to them to sheathe their swords. One Basiru Osoba, and a man said to be in his 30s identified as Idowu Olaomo, aka Coach, were found dead on the Ansarudeen Teacher Training School Road in Ota.
The deaths were said to have occurred when youths clashed at Sango, Oju Ore and Joju junctions. Many others were said to have been injured during the crisis. Some residents the of the Community demonstrated over the crisis ravaging the town.
The placard-carrying demonstrators who stormed the Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta Governor?s Office called on Governor Ibikunle Amosun to save them from ?total elimination.? According to their spokesperson, Chief Mrs. Kuburat Ajoke Sanni, an obaship tussle in the area had taken a fresh twist in the last two weeks as ?many of our people have been killed.? Sanni, who appealed to Governor Amosun to save them in Ijoko declared: ?As a people, we don?t want Matanmi in Ijoko.? In the same vein, Chief Mrs. Nusirat Bankole Majekodunmi of Ijoko, informed that the crisis has assumed a criminal dimension and that she had lost her own son, an undergraduate of the University of Ilorin, (UNILORIN) to the crisis.
She added that the perpetrators of the violence had fled the area, and listed some notable personalities killed in the crisis to include: Chief Amodu, Baba Sotinoye and Mosuru Ogunseye, a son of the monarch and a father of four, who, according to her, was forcefully taken away and killed and his corpse was yet be seen till date. Addressing the protesters, the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Taiwo Adeoluwa, assured them that the state government would look into the crisis, urging them to maintain peace and order to avoid another blood-shed in the town.
Adeoluwa, after receiving the protest letter from the people, added that the State government had been exploring all avenues to ensure that lasting peace was restored to the area They called on government to find a lasting solution to the lingering crisis in Ijoko Ota the commercial nerve centres of the state. Meanwhile, Oba Matanmi has described the allegations against him as blatant lies saying that he remained the authentic ruler of the town.
He said: ?There are series of court judgements that recognise me as the only traditional ruler of Ijokoland. The land belongs to my forefathers and I have documents to back it up. He added:?In order to find a lasting solution to this crisis, we had met with former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, nine times in the search for a peaceful resolution of the obaship dispute in the town.? Matanmi, who said this in an interview with our correspondent in Ijoko-Ota, explained that the former president initiated the meetings in September, 2009, but regretted that the peace parleys had not achieved the desired results.
Tendering a letter which Obasanjo wrote to invite him to the first meeting, Matanmi claimed that the former president had denied approving the installation of Mr. Lasisi Ogunseye as the Onijoko of Ijoko-Ota.
?I was outside the country when the former president wrote the letter in September, asking for a meeting, which he said was to discuss issues of common interest. We fixed the meeting for October since he (Obasanjo) said he was travelling as at the time I would be returning to the country. Since then we have met nine times,? said the Oba-elect. While absolving himself or any of his people of blame in the crisis, Oba Matanmi urged his people not to be violent and maintain the peace.

*This was published in the Daily Times dated Tuesday, December 30, 2014

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