*We’ve been neglected—Iroku monarch
*No threat to peace in affected communities—-Ondo govt
*We’ll resolve the issue amicably, says Ogun govt
By Dayo Johnson & James Ogunnaike
The installation of four monarchs in four riverine communities in alleged disputed areas by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State recently sparked off a crisis between the state and Ogun State.
The affected riverine communities include Irokun, Obinehin, Idigbengben and Araromi seaside.
A state of confusion is reigning in the affected communities as the indigenes and inhabitants don’t know which of the state they now belong to.
Vanguard gathered that the declaration of Araromi Seaside as a tourist zone and the expected revenue to accrue from this may be the cause of the crisis over the ownership of the four communities by the sister states.
Governor Akeredolu had entered into a partnership with La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort, founded by Otunba Wanle Akinboboye, to upgrade Araromi Beachfront into a tourism zone in line with the vision of making the state a choice tourist destination.
The governor, who declared the community’s beachfront a Tourism Zone, unfolded his vision for Araromi, which include that the project would see to the development and transformation of the rural community into a thriving blue economy for the benefit of global business and leisure travellers as well as the locals.
Akeredolu said that the development of the project would be in partnership with La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort, with a view to replicating the success stories of tourism as evident in other climes, with particular reference to Dubai.
“We have reached an agreement to declare our waterfronts or shores, where we have a lot of advantages in the country, a Tourism Zone,” he said.
But a few days after the governor’s declaration of his intentions, a monarch in Ogun State, the Onirokun of Irokun, Oba Buari Balogun, kicked against such moves, saying the governor had trespassed.
Akeredolu should back off —Irokun monarch
Oba Balogun declared that the proposed tourism zone is under Ogun State and not Ondo State and that the governor should back off.
He said: “For the sake of clearance, reference should be made to the geographical boundary declaration of states along the bight of Benin, even at the time and after the Western Region, where it will be found that the entire landmark of Araromi Seaside fell into Ijebu Land and is one of the communities of Irokun Kingdom of Ogun Waterside.
“Secondly, it should interest everyone that may be concerned to know that I have severally visited Araromi Seaside as one of the communities under my jurisdiction, and had serious consultations with the dwellers of the land, who were scheming to move out to Ondo State on the ground that they are a community that has been abandoned by the Ogun State Government.
“I frantically established it to the people there on the land, that despite their agitation for Ondo State as a people, the land they occupy cannot be transferred to Ondo State by them.
“The land belongs to the Irokun Kingdom, an Ijebu community under the administration of the Awujale of Ijebu land, and is under Ogun Waterside Local Government of Ogun State.
“It is, therefore, very pertinent this time around that I am using this opportunity and medium to voice out to both Ogun Waterside Local Government and Ogun State Government that the land mentioned here, Araromi Seaside, is their land and not that of Ondo State.”
Maporure community tackles Irokun monarch
However, the residents of Maporure community of Aheri-land in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State countered the monarch in a letter to Governor Akeredolu signed by Ige Asemudara.
The community, who argued that the Araromi Seaside had been part of Ilaje community in Ondo State, urged the governor to ignore such an insignificant tantrum by Balogun.
The letter reads: “We are Solicitors to the royal dynasty of the Maporure of Aheri-land in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State.
“Our client has drawn our attention to the above-captioned publication with instructions to correct the several false claims made therein by Buari Ola Balogun purporting himself as the ‘Onirokun of Irokun,’ a community forming part of the ancient territory of Aheriland and to urge your Excellency to ignore the such insignificant tantrum.
“In the said publication, the self-styled Onirokun falsely claimed that Araromi-Seaside was in the Ogun Waterside Local Government Area of Ogun State contrary to the truth that Araromi is squarely within the Aheri Ward of Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State and not even a border community.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Aheri land which is coterminous with the Ward is the most westerly of the four Ilaje Kingdoms with its littoral boundary extending to Olosunmeta on the Lekki Peninsula corridor as long determined even before Nigeria became a British Protectorate and later, a colony in 1900.
“It is the fact of its territorial contiguity with Lagos that the British Government, by an Act of the Nigerian Legislative Council, on the 29th day of November 1895, extended the laws of the Colony of Lagos to Ilaje land and by which it was declared part of the Colony.
“Attempts later to alter this well-defined boundary and territory for political exigencies has been the source of unending crises between Ondo/Abeokuta Provinces which birthed the present Ondo and Ogun states, particularly when Ijebu was crafted from Abeokuta in 1915 with a rejected policy to create a coastal territory for Ijebu on part of the western fringe of Ilaje soil.
“In recent times, the National Boundary Commission, in agreement with all stakeholders, had to resort to ethnographic analysis to resolve the unwarranted crises.
“In the final analysis, we state without equivocation that both Araromi and Irokun are one hundred per cent Ilaje communities and within the Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State. No state or ethnic group is in dispute with us over them.
“Even on traditional and historical grounds, it is necessary to educate Buari Balogun that the correct title of the Oba of Irokun is Olurokun and not Onirokun and that Ogbelege whose name Buari proudly but falsely sought to adopt, was a descendant of Oba Adanigbo, a past Maporure of Aheri-land. There is no ruling house or family of Ijebu origin in Irokun.
“For the record, I reiterate that Araromi Seaside is not part of Irokun land nor in Ogun State and I state that not one of their progenitors of Buari Balogun ever stepped on Araromi soil in the exercise of any form of authority over our land and people and I dare him to attempt to step on our land.
“Araromi Seaside has never been part of Aheri-land. We, therefore, use this medium to appeal to Ondo State Government to expedite action and approve the desire of the Araromi Seaside people through their memorandum which is before it to have their Oloja.”
Ogun govt fires salvo at Ondo
Not pleased by the installation of the four monarchs, the Ogun State Government warned its Ondo State counterpart to steer clear of approving and installing traditional rulers in any of its communities, especially in Ogun Waterside Local Government.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Alhaji Abdulwaheed Odusile, who gave the warning in a statement, said Irokun Obinehin and Idigbengben and Araromi Seaside communities are bonafide communities recognised by law as situated in Ogun State.
Odusile said all official legal documents dated back to the colonial era and re-affirmed by relevant agencies of the Federal Government attest to the fact that the communities are part of Ogun State.
The statement titled: Purported Chieftaincies in Irokun Obinehin, Idigbengben and Araromi Seaside read: “The attention of the Ogun State Government has been drawn to a recent press statement by the Ondo State Government signed by the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Sir Charles Titiloye, purportedly approving the installation of traditional rulers in Irokun Obinehin, Idigbengben and Araromi Seaside communities in the Ogun Waterside Local Government Area of Ogun State.
“The Ogun State Government wishes to state categorically as follows; that Irokun Obinehin, Idigbengben and Araromi Seaside are bonafide communities recognised by law as situated in Ogun State.
“That official legal documents dated back to the colonial era and re-affirmed by relevant agencies of the Federal Government attest to this fact.”
While calling the attention of the National Boundary Commission to the press statement issued by the Ondo State Government, Odusile urged the commission to act in line with extant laws and relevant documents toward resolving the issue.
Ondo govt fires back
Firing back, the Ondo State Information and Orientation Commissioner, Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, described as untrue, that the four communities are in dispute before the National Boundary Commission.
Ademola-Olateju said: “Irokun, Obinehin, Idigbengben and Araromi seaside are communities within Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State. These communities have a long history of traditional institutions within the state.
“These communities are not in dispute between Ondo State and Ogun State as the people living therein are indigenes of Ondo State.
“In addition, the landmass occupied by these communities falls within the territory of Ondo State of Nigeria.
“The claim that these communities are in dispute before the National Boundary Commission is untrue, as the communities are within Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State. Federal institutions like Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, regularly conduct elections in these communities and votes cast are recorded for Ilaje Local Government of Ondo State.
“The recognised traditional institutions in these communities are integral parts of traditional institutions in, and of Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State and the traditional rulers are indigenes of Ondo State.
“Ondo State Government in the recent White paper issued by the Justice Ajama Commission avoided consideration of a request for recognition of traditional institutions from communities where there are land disputes and communal conflicting claims, pending the resolution of such disputes.
“It should be noted that the traditional institutions of these communities, submitted memoranda and appeared publicly before Ondo State, the Justice C.E.T Ajama Commission of Enquiry on Chieftaincy Matters set up by Ondo State as far back as 2015 without any opposition from any quarter, including the Government of Ogun State.
“It is surprising that the Government of Ogun State is trying to claim ownership after Ondo State Government has accepted the recommendation of the said Commission.
“While the Government of Ondo State is not averse to discussions on this matter as requested, we, however, urge our brothers in Ogun State to check their records properly on issues raised in their press statement.
Matter to be resolved soon
Meanwhile, the Ogun State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Ganiyu Hamzat said the two governors are on the issue, assuring that the matter would be resolved amicably.