October 23, 2014 – The Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) has accused the administration of Governor AbdulFatah Ahmed of demonstrating crass disdain for rule of law and disrespect for Yoruba traditional institutions.
In a petition served on the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Abdullahi Shaaba Umar, and the Speaker of the state legislature, Hon Razak Atunwa, the Kwara state chapter of the group said government’s recent grading exercise for traditional rulers reeks of ethnic marginalisation. The petition was signed by Asiwaju Joe Olarogun, Alh. Saka Agboola Raji, and Hon. Baba Ba’ako.
According to the group, all the 70 chieftaincy stools graded by government were in Kwara South senatorial district, while other memoranda from Yoruba rulers in Central and North districts were ignored because the two districts comprised the Ilorin Emirate.
It added that six monarchs from Asa, Moro and Ilorin East LGAs – Ohoro of Shao, Oba of Jebba, Alapado of Apado, Baale of Afon, Dado of Okeso, and Magaji Aare of Ilorin – submitted memoranda for the exercise but none was deemed qualified even though they all met the criteria set out in the advertisement.
ARG said government’s insensitive act also negated historical and legal accounts in Kwara State. Historically, both Oba of Jebba and Ohoro of Shao were graded as Third Class chiefs in 1983 along with Elese of Igbaja (in Kwara South), which today is a First Class chief.
“Both rankings were inexplicably withdrawn in 1984 during the military regime. In 2003, late Gov. Muhammed Lawal restored the rankings but Gov. Bukola Saraki withdrew them again”, the group said.
A High Court judgment in January, 2014 on The State vs Alhaji Abdulkadir Adebara, ordered the restoration of Oba of Jebba as a graded chief and the payment in arrears of his entitlements for the eleven years that the suit lasted.
Government, the group averred recently appealed this judgment six months after the statutory 90 days for filing appeal have elapsed. “Similarly, there is a substantive High Court judgment in Suit No KWS/231/89 delivered in 1997 to the effect that Moro is not part of the Ilorin Emirate.
The group said the law, as in two cases cited, clearly proves government’s insensitivity in allowing the Emirate to “use state apparatus to lord it over Yoruba communities” and warned that the “situation in Kwara State should not be allowed to degenerate into violence” as the case was in Kaduna where peace remained elusive until Gov. Ahmed Makarfi created a chiefdom for the Zango Kataf.
This, the group alleged, is a “wanton disregard” aimed at propping, for undue political gain, “a long jettisoned emirate system, which even at its bastion in Sokoto Caliphate, previous village/district heads are now First Class Emirs; ditto in Kaduna, Jigawa, Kano States”.
The group said the Yoruba communities will employ all democratic means to achieve justice if Gov. Ahmed’s administration and All Progressives Congress (APC) under Senator Bukola Saraki fail to address the grievances.