The Ooni of Ife, Enitan Ogunwusi, has described the comments made against him by the acclaimed Yoruba warlord, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, as irresponsible.
In an exclusive telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Ogunwusi, who spoke through his spokesman, Moses Olafare, said the palace was not ready to engage Mr Adeyemo formally on the matter but the issue of the threat of violence against the monarch would be handled appropriately.
Mr Adeyemo, while taking part in a virtual town hall meeting on Wednesday morning with Nigerians in the diaspora, attacked some South-west leaders including the former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu; Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, and traditional rulers including the Oluwo of Iwo, Abdulrasheed Akanbi, and the Ooni.
He accused the Ooni of ”receiving dollars from President Muhammadu Buhari when he visited the Presidential Villa recently” and condemned the monarch’s comments while addressing the media at the villa.
Sunday Igboho described the Yoruba leaders as lily-livered and called them Fulani slaves.
He also threatened to waylay, open fire on them or visit and vandalise their properties.
The monarch said no true Yoruba son or daughter would speak in such a manner as Mr Adeyemo has spoken, saying his conduct and attitude cast doubt on his true intention in his “self-saddled responsibility of defending the Yorubas.”
The Ooni’s spokesman, Mr Olafare, said Mr Adeyemo was going overboard in his conduct and that he should not believe that he is bigger than the authorities.
He said; “We have not made any official statements on the matter and the matter does not really make any sense to us. If somebody who identifies himself with the cause of Yoruba could be talking in that manner about the Ooni who is indisputably a spiritual head of the race, then one must wonder whether or not the person has been representing us truly. It gives room to people to suspect your motive.”
Mr Olafare said ”for a man claiming to be defending a race to be attacking the same people you claim you are defending leaves much to be desired”.
Allegations of receiving bribes
Speaking on the allegation that the monarch collected money from the president, the spokesman said the allegation is not only irresponsible but also lacks substance.
“He made some very irresponsible allegations. You know when you make allegations that you cannot back up with evidence, that can only portray you as an irresponsible man. If you make unfounded allegations and then you want to use allegations to further justify your claims as the generalissimo of the race, it is up to the public. It’s so unfortunate, if you say the Ooni has collected money, I expected him to show evidence. You say he has collected dollars. Irresponsible allegation is irresponsible allegation if you cannot back up whatever you allege with acceptable evidence,” Mr Olafare said.
He added that the support of the people Mr Adeyemo is currently enjoying in his onslaught against some criminals that have infiltrated the South-west is not out of the blues. He, however, cautioned him against reckless comments and allegations, saying they do not portray him as a cultured Yoruba man with moral values and virtues.
“If you’re doing something and people are hailing you, I don’t think you need to allow that credit to get into your head and start to misbehave. If you could open your mouth and call Ooni such unprintable names that you called him, that shows the kind of Yoruba man that you are. I do not see any reason that will make me describe a Baale, who is of lower rank on the traditional rulers ranking, with such unprintable names. If I cannot do that to a Baale, why should I say such a thing to an Ooni? It’s not good. It does not portray anybody as an Omoluabi, as a man of Yoruba virtues and values.
“In any case, if you’re fighting for the liberation of the people, this is a responsibility that is self-saddled, you choose to and for you to succeed, you need the same people that you’re representing, otherwise you would not succeed. Is this the way you’re going to get the support of the people you’re representing when you start attacking the same people? People will back out, that is just it. Whether you like it or not, some people are following you because of that same Ooni. They will back out.”
Threat of violence
On the threat of violence, Mr Olafare said; “Well, he said that in a video that is well circulated and the video must have gotten to security agents who would see beyond what we are seeing. It is a threat to life if you say that if somebody is going, you’re going to waylay that person and fire him. If you’re bold enough to say that, to anybody not to talk of even an Ooni of Ife, I believe that security agents will see that as a threat to life. While we’re not ready to report any matter to security agents, I believe that they will know what to do.”
The herders-farmers’ clashes are rampant in parts of Oyo and other states in the country mainly caused by nomadic herders grazing their cattle on the farms of residents. The situation has gotten worse with some of the nomadic herders engaging in kidnapping, murder and rape, thus infuriating many Nigerians.
Following the repeated attacks in Ibarapa area of Oyo State, Mr Adeyemo issued an ultimatum to herdsmen in the area.
When the ultimatum expired, he led some youth to the house of the head of the Fulani community in Igangan town, Abdulkadri Saliu. Mr Saliu was chased out of the community and his house and cars burnt.
The Seriki Fulani has since relocated to Kwara State with his family.
The ‘warlord’ on Monday also visited Ogun State to continue his self-appointed mandate of chasing Fulani herders out of the state with the state government saying it never asked for his help.
Although there have been several reports of criminal activities carried out by herdsmen in the South-west and other parts of Nigeria, the country’s law does not give any citizen the right to expel other citizens or residents from wherever they choose to live or do business in the country.
Faith Timothy K.