Facts emerging about some reports on the Obaship tussle in Itele-Awori Kingdom area of Ogun State have pointed to some false claims by a group of people that identified themselves as members of Adogun Itele Family in the community.
The said family had written a petition dated August 9, 2021 to the Chairman of the Ogun State House of Assembly Committee on Local Government and Chieftancy Affairs, Oke Mosan, and alleged that the Olota of Ota, Oba Kabiru Adeyemi Obalanlege connived with the state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Moruf Afolabi Afuape to sell the Onitele stool to Ademola Asorota at a sum of N100 Million.
The letter was titled: Re: Fraudulent Sale Of Itele-Awori Kingdom And Election Over The Stool Of Onitele Of Itele-Awori Vacant Stool And The Criminal Breach Of Trust By Commissioner For Local Government And Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Moruf Afolabi Afuape And Threat To Cause Bloodshed In Itele By Olota Of Ota, HRM Oba Kabiru Adeyemi Obalanlege- Request To Intervene And Prevent Bloodshed In Itele.”
It was jointly signed by Chief Taoreed Muhammadu Dada, Pa Nurudeen Akanbi Alimi Akapo, Head (Olori Ebi), Ogunrounbi Ruling House Head, Oosa Ruling House, Mr Sunday Mathew Taiwo Owotolu, Alhaji Monsuru Oseni Yusuf, Head, Imidawo Ruling House, Head, Alagbeji Ruling House.
They claimed to have had a Supreme Court judgment dated December 16, 2011 to the effect that Adogun was the founder and first settler of Itele and that the only family comprising of four Ruling Houses are those eligible to the stool of Onitele of Itele Awori via Ota Ogun State.
They further alleged that immediately Olota of Ota, Oba Obalanlege got into the scene he offered their family a sum of N50 Million so that Ademola Asorota could be installed as Onitele of Itele and that they rejected the money.
According to them, Ademola Asorota is from Iseyin in Oyo State, and that he was impersonating and parading himself as a member of Adogun Atele.
They made several unsubstantiated allegations against Ademola Asorota, which have been found to be false through investigations.
Sources revealed that Ademola Asorota is not only from Itele-Awori, but that he is from a royal family that is entitled to the coveted throne.
It was also discovered that their allegations that Ademola Asorota wanted to buy the stool for a sum of N100 million through Olota and Bashorun Olanrewaju “were figment of the imagination of those who said they are from Adogun Atele family in Itele community.”
They also indicted Mr. Solomon Dada and the then Transition Committee Chairman of Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government, Alhaji Wasiu Lawal in the petition, which was said to be false allegation.
It was also discovered that there is nothing like Adogun Atele family in Itele and that “the four families just formed a common front to fight for what they felt they deserve.”
It was also found out that allegations that various sums of money ranging from N20,000 to N100,000 from the said N100 Million bribe by Ademola Asorota were given out to delegates during a meeting in the palace of Olota on June 24, 2020 to resolve the issues surrounding the obaship seat was unfounded and “a figment of their imagination.”
According to a source close to the palace, “there was nothing like such a meeting. The Olota of Ota could never be involved in such, when he knows it’s implications.
“In any case, what does the monarch stand to gain by involving in such a deal. He was brought into office through a fair process and so he wouldn’t want to be involved in dirty deals all because someone wants to be installed as an Oba.”
He added that all the allegations that some personalities were impersonated at the meeting couldn’t have been true, where it was alleged that “our own respected and first class monarch was present.”
He stressed that the writers of the petition were wrong to have alleged that Oba Obalanlege was lobbying “many personalities close to the family and offering us the sum of N50,000,000.00 (N50 Million) to concede the stool of Onitele of Itele to Ademola Asorota with the promise that Asorota would make undertaking that none of his family members would ever ascend to the stool after him.”
It was also alleged that Olota met with their family lawyer and pleaded with him to prevail on the family to concede the stool to Ademola Asorota and that he would influence the Governor to create four coronets in Itele and that the four would be given to Adogun Atele family.
All these were found to be false claims.
The source stated that the “so-called Adogun Atele family should go and do their investigations very well to know where Ademola Asorota came from.”
In a judgement delivered by Honourable Justice A. Akinyemi of Agbara Judicial Division area of Ogun State in Suit No. HCT/266/03 on November 15, 2010 on pages 6 and 7 the court stated that the defendant, who testified as DW2 stated that the claimants are the customary tenants of Adogun Atele family.
The court said that he traced the history of Itele land from Adogun Atele to himself.
“He said there is no ruling house in Itele called “Ilegbede Chieftaincy family,” that there is Ilegbede Compound. He said Ilegbede is the area Adogun Atele used to hunt. It is significant however, that this witness also stated that there exists in Itele the following land-owning families: Ijaguna, Ilegbede, lliwo, Isunba, Ilogun, Opoyobo, Elekemo. He added however that there is only “one Itele land” which has never been partitioned. This witness added that he belongs to Ijaguna and lliwo families.
“Under cross examination, he admitted that all the seven families mentioned in exhibit A are families existing in Itele. He added “All these families reside in Itele. Only those families that are descendants of Adogun Atele have land in Itele, apart from our customary tenants.”
“This witness stated in cross examination: “Ilegbede family is part of Adogun Atele family…I agree that this case as sued by the claimants is in respect of Ilegbede family land. It is the same Ilegbede that was mentioned in the 1946 case. It is the same Ilegbede shown as No. 7 on exhibit ‘J.’ Exhibit ‘J’ is the survey plan on which exhibits A and E we’re decided. The witness further admitted that Adogun Atele family was not mentioned or referred to in Exhibit A or E.
“DW 3 also confirmed the existence of all the said 7 famies in Itele. This witness added another dimension to the case however, when he stated in cross examination that all the said families including Ilegbede family are all branches of Adogun Atele family- even though no where in the traditional history of Adogun Atele family pleaded given in evidence, was any reference made to any of these seven families as related to Adogun Atele in anyway.
Question is, if they are not related to or descendants of Adogun Atele, how can they be branches of Adogun Atele family. And if they are indeed branches of Adogun Atele, why was this not pleaded?
“Weighing the evidence proffered by both sides, I find the evidence of claimants witnesses more content, credible and believable. On the other hand, I find the evidence of defendants to be totally mixed up, confused, and highly suspect. Indeed DW 1 was a very difficult, shifty and unco-operative witness. He was virtually compelled by the court to answer almost every question put to him under cross examination. I found Lso that the witnesses of the defendants appeared to be using part of the facts that became obvious and undeniable under cross examination to ‘patch’ up their own traditional history so as to maintain that the land in dispute belongs to them, but the more they did this, the more it made the story of the claimants more believable. I find the evidence of the claimants more consistent, reliable and believable; that the land in dispute belongs to them and not to Itele or Adogun Atele family.”
The court also ruled that the issue of chieftaincy did not arise in the case as what was before the court was about land matter.
“The issue of the addition of the word “Chieftaincy’ to their family name, which the defendants have made an issue of, in my humble view, will only become critical, if they aspire to a chieftaincy stool in Itele, in which case they will have to prove that they are a cheiftaincy family, but in a land matter, the addition of that word or title to their family name, makes no difference and has no relevance in the determination of title to land. Evidence shows that there is only one Ilegbede family in Itele, which is a land-owning family and the plaintiffs have shown that to be their family. Whether they are also a Chieftaincy family does not arise to be determined in this case.
Also, the Ibadan Judicial Division of the Court of Appeal Holden at Ibadan on Monday December 11, 2017 before their Lordships; Monica Bolan’an Dongban Mensem, JCA, Chinwe Eugenia Iyizoba, JCA and Nonyerem Okoronkwo, JCA ruled against Adogun Atele family.
In concluding the judgment on Page 21, the Court ruled that;
“The defendants could not explain to the court why their family was excluded from the list of all land-owning families in Itele listed in exhibit “E” tendered by them. It is therefore either that Adogun Atele or Itele family does not exist at all, or only came into existence recently. The evidence of traditional history given by the defendants was not convincing neither did the judgments tendered by them prove that Itele or Adogun Atele family owned Ilegbede family land which by the defendants own showing and admission is the land in dispute. Defendants also did not prove that the claimants are their customary tenants. In fact, none of their claims was proved satisfactory.”
The Supreme Court, in it’s ruling delivered by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, JSC, and signed on February 17, 2021 revealed that the application of the said Adogun Atele family for leave to appeal lacked merit and that it was accordingly dismissed.