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SOURCE: Olowa's Palace

Rt. Hon Speaker,
Rt. Hon., Deputy Speaker,
Other Distinguished Honourable Members,
All Royal Fathers from Ifedore Local Government
High Chiefs
Men of the Pen Profession
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
I am highly honoured to have here with us, the Rt. Honourable Speaker, and other Distinguished Honourable Members of the Ondo State House of Assembly. I would love to first of all say that it is by the Grace of God Almighty that we all gathered here today, and I am also delighted for the privilege given me to host and address this honourable gathering of our Obas in Ifedore Local Government and distinguished Honourable Members of the 8th Assembly of our dear Sunshine State.
I want to also thank the Rt. Honourable Speaker and other distinguished Honourable Members for giving us this honour to host them, and for granting our invitation. I would say this is an August visit in July.
My respectable, reliable and responsible Speaker and Distinguished Honourable Members of the Ondo State House of Assembly, parts of the reasons we are here is in respect of the facts understated which from time to time has been generating controversies here and there. Shortly put, I am putting these facts straight to the members of this well respected House of Assembly that the division created by our Obas in Ondo State cannot be justify either by law or by equity.
It has been a long issue that there are two divisions in the Council of Obas in Ondo State. Although not created by any law, sooner or later I believe this division will be defined.
My present concern is about the Statutory Committee raised by practice or direction which I think cannot be justify, this has made some Obas to be relegated into insignificant position in the State.
This Statutory Committee has deprived many Obas of enjoying their traditional rights and privileges, as many other Obas are excluded from important social gatherings rendering them to be palace boys who accompany others to meeting and other places.
Mr. Speaker and Distinguished Honourable Members, what I am saying here is that the fate of our Obas is now determined by members of Statutory Committee.
Permit me to say this, the most worrisome of this matter is that some Local Governments are having four (4) Grade A Obas; for example, in Akoko North West, Local Government four (4) of their Obas are Grade A Obas while some Local Governments are having three (3) Obas that is Okitipupa Local Government.
Also, the Local Government I belong to which is Ifedore Local Government did not have any Grade “A” Oba. If things are done with equity, The Olowa of Igbara-Oke is supposed to be upgraded to Grade “A” Oba. Alara of Ilaramokin and Olujare of Ijare in Ifedore Local Government are equally qualified.
Honestly speaking, Mr. Speaker and Distinguished Honourable Members, the Olowa of Igbara-Oke from time immemorial is the longest or oldest Grade “B” Oba in Ondo State that has his own beaded crown from cradle of Yoruba race, the source of black people of the world and the spiritual house of all Scion of Oduduwa, being the number 37 among the 54 recognized Obas that wear beaded crown (I have here the 1902 Gazette of the Federal Republic of Nigeria), reckoning or concerning the position of Obas in Yoruba Land.
Mr. Speaker and Distinguished Honourable Members, hence, without mincing word, the Olowa of Igbara-Oke Chieftaincy is automatically qualified as Grade “A” Oba in Ifedore Local Government. This inequality situation is prevailing in other Local Government; for example, Akure North and Ondo East Local Governments.
I have perused through all chieftaincy laws and I have never stumbled on any law(s) supporting this discrimination. May I recall with respect that all Obas in this council are traditional Obas with paraphernalia of the office of Obas in their own domains. Equally, we were all given instrument of office by the Governor in charge of our state, though, at different times. If that is the case, may I with due respect and humility, Mr. Speaker and Distinguished Honourable Members, aver or persist that at least two or three Obas must wear the toga of Grade “A” Oba in each of the Local Government Areas in Ondo State.
At this stage, may I call the attention of Mr. Speaker and Distinguished Honourable Members, and every Obas seated here to the fact that our organic law (constitution) frowns or detest discriminatory tendencies in any form. Hence, the system of having Statutory Committees whereby the rights and privileges of some Obas are determined by their colleagues in the Statutory Committees is unacceptable.
I am aware that His Royal Majesty, Oba Aderibigbe Agbede (Ogidi II), the past Olowa of Igbara-Oke served as a permanent member in Ondo State council of Chiefs representing Ifedore Local Government Area throughout his reigns.
For years, His Royal Majesty, Oba Aderibigbe Agbede (Ogidi II), The Olowa of Igbara-Oke has been the Chairman of Council of Obas in Ifedore Local Government until his demise in the year 2000. Since then, Ifedore Local Government has not been fully represented in the Statutory meeting of Obas in the State which is against our fundamental right as provided in the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
Mr. Speaker and Distinguished Honourable Members, permit me to state this, Section 40 of 1999 Constitution provides for Right to Peaceful Assembly and Association, it stated thus:
“Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other person and inParticular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any association for the protection of his interest…….’’
By virtue of section quoted above there is nowhere that after joining an association of this nature, there should be first class and second class citizen.
I will also refer usall to section 42 of 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended which provides for Right against discrimination and state thus:
“A citizen of Nigeria of a particular country group, place of Origin, sex, religion or political opinion Shall not by reason only that he is such a person…..’’
I will refer to paragraph A which state further:
“Be Subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of any Law in force Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the Government to disabilities or restriction to which citizen of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic group. Place of Origin, circumstance of birth, sex, religion or political opinion is not made subject’’
With the above provision of the 1999 constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, the, right of representation of Ifedore Local Government and other Local Governments which have none in the Statutory Committee of Obas has been breached and that the Court will always frown at any breach of fundamental right. Hence, Ifedore Local Government should at least have two or three Obas in the Statutory Committee.
On the basis of grading of Obas in the State, the Chiefs (Amendment) Edict 1991, Ondo State defines who is a recognized Chief and who is a minor chief in its interpretation section to wit:
A. Minor chief means a chief other than Oba
B. Recognized Chief means an Oba appointed to a recognized Chieftaincy
C. Recognized Chieftaincy means Chieftaincy to which the provisions of part 1 apply.
See the case of Chief E.A Bamisilevs Francis & 5 ORS (2008) All FWLR, Part 423 @pg 13000.
The grading of Obas into Grade “A” (Statutory Committee), Grade “B” and other grades in Ondo State is not recognized by any written Law and as such, the grading is null and void and cannot be a ground for denying the Ifedore Local Government for any legal representation in the Statutory Committee of Obas as each Oba in the State carries the same right, and privileges under law.
In view of the authorities cited above, I want to appeal to our Rt. Honourable Speaker and Other Distinguished Honourable Members of Ondo State House of Assembly to help look into this issue for justice to prevail.
Legally, for a viable Statutory Committee of Obas in Ondo State, each Local Government must be equally represented to prevent injustice and breach of fundamental right.
Thank you all for your rapt attention.
God bless you all.
His Royal Majesty,
Oba (Dr.) Francis Adefarakanmi Agbede, FCIM, MBCIM
Ilufemiloye, Ogidi III
Paramount Ruler and Prescribed Authority,
Olowa of Igbara-Oke kingdom