|Oba Akiolu Of Lagos|
On 6th April 2015, the Oba of Lagos, Retired AIG Rilwan Akiolu openly threatened the Igbo Sons and Daughters living in Lagos with instant and mysterious death and other unsafe conditions should they freely exercise their voting rights in the country-wide gubernatorial and State legislative polls scheduled for 11th April 2015 particularly the Lagos State governorship poll. The Oba of Lagos had on Sunday 5th April 2015 summoned all Lagos State recognized Igbo traditional council representatives to his palace and ordered them to vote for the APC governorship candidate, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode or face extreme hard times in the State including perishing in the Lagoon, business hostility and instant and mysterious death within seven days. Hours after the referenced threats and unguarded utterances were made, the media was flooded with the shocking news leading to attempted denial by the Oba’s Palace. The denial met a waterloo when audio recording of the devilish sayings was released to the media. The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law has also listened to the audio and confirmed the Oba’s stone-age conduct and utterances.
The Oba threatened as follows: ''On Saturday, if anyone of you (Igbo resident) goes against Akinwunmi Ambode, who I picked, that is your end. If it does not happen within seven days, just know that I am a bastard and it is not my father who gave birth to me. By the grace of God, I am the owner of Lagos for the time being. This is an undivided chair. The palace belongs to the dead and those coming in the future. On Saturday, if anyone of you, I swear in the name of God, Allah goes against my wish that Ambode will be the next governor of Lagos State, the person is going to die inside this water (Lagoon). For the Igbo and others in Lagos, they should go where the Oba of Lagos heads to.
When they were coming to the State, they did not come with all their houses. But now, they have properties in the State. So they must do my bidding. And that is the bidding of the ancestors of Lagos and God. I am not ready to beg you. Nobody knew how I picked Ambode. Jimi (Agbaje) is my blood relation and I told him that he could never be governor in Lagos for now. The future belongs to God. I am not begging anybody, but what you people cannot do in Onitsha, Aba or anywhere you cannot do it here''.
Oba Akiolu & His Obaship As Stranger & Tenant In Lagos State:
It is a historical reality that Oba Rilwan Akiolu does not know the history of his lineage and Obaship in Lagos State. It is also a truism that everything about the Obaship of Lagos State is the handiwork of strangers. In other words, his stool originated from strangers; likewise himself, who is number one stranger in Lagos State. As a matter of fact, everything about Lagos State came from strangers including the Igbo natives. It is historically indisputable that the ancestors of Igbo natives living in Lagos State had lived and cohabited in the area many years before the founding of the Obaship of Lagos in 1630. They featured prominently in the governance of the Benin Kingdom and slave trade. Others later featured in commerce and Anglo-Christian missions.
As a matter of historical empiricism, the word “Lagos” is a Portuguese name meaning lakes or a group of lagoons. It was given to the area by first Portuguese settlers in now Lagos State. Before the Portuguese settlement, the area was called “Eko” by famous Benin Empire and made a military outpost of the famous Kingdom of Benin. “Eko” means war camp and was used by the Benin Empire’s military expedition tacticians led by Prince Ado for the purpose of slave trade and military expeditions in now Ghana and Benin Republic. The famous Benin Dynasty was divided into Pre-Imperial Obaship 1180-1440 and Benin Empire 1440-1897. While the former started with Oba Eweka Monarchy 1180-1246, the latter started with Oba Ewuare Monarchy 1440-1473.
In the case of now Lagos State, the first people in the area were called the Awori People. In seventeenth century, they begged then Oba of Benin to protect and put them under his dynasty with one of his princes as their king. They promised unalloyed loyalty to the Oba. The Oba of Benin heeded their call and appointed his fiery prince; Prince Ado in 1630 as the first Oba of Lagos then called “Eko” or war camp. In 1861, King Dosumu the Great of this same Lagos State thump-printed and ceded now Nigeria to the British colonialists in the infamous Treaty of Cession. From the crowning of Ado as its first Oba (1630-1669), Lagos (then called Eko) served as a major center for slave-trade, from which then Oba of Benin and all of his successors for over four centuries benefitted - until 1841, when Oba Akitoye ascended to the throne of Lagos and tried to ban slave-trading.
Local merchants strongly opposed the intended move, and deposed and exiled the king, and installed Akitoye's brother Kosoko as Oba. At exile in Europe, Akitoye met with British authorities, who had banned slave-trading in 1807, and who therefore decided to support the deposed Oba to regain his throne. With the success of the British intervention, in 1851 Akitoye was reinstalled as Oba of Lagos.
In practical terms, however, British influence over the kingdom had become absolute, and ten years later, in 1861, Lagos was formally annexed as a British colony. The palace of the Oba of Lagos is also the handiwork of strangers. The palace was constructed by the Portuguese settlers and commissioned in 1705. The palace’s name “Igun Idunganran” is of the Benin descent meaning “palace built on pepper falm”. Interestingly, long before the founding of Obaship of now Lagos by the famous Kingdom of Benin in 1630, Igbo Nation has existed as far back as 9th century with its first Eze Nri crowned around 1043 AD. Its first king was Eze Nri Ifikuanim of Nri Kingdom. As far back as 14th century, the Igbo expedition warriors had fully integrated into the Benin Kingdom as the ruling class.
It is very important to state here that the Benin Kingdom’s decision makers that annexed now Lagos and ruled over it included Igbo ruling class of the Benin Kingdom extraction. Also many centuries before the founding of now Lagos, a part of Igbo ruling class in the Kingdom or Empire of Benin opted out and founded “Onicha Mmili” or “AdoN’ Idu” commonly called “Onitsha”. Onitsha was founded by the Chima Dynasty in around 1500s AD. Today, there are Barbadian Igbos, American Igbos, Saint Dominican Igbos, Maryland Igbos, Liberian Igbos and Igbos of Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Cuba, to mention but a few. One of the famous Igbo anti slave warriors is called “Bussa” of Barbados. There are also Edward Blyden, an Igbo Americo-Liberian educator, writer and politician; Paul Robeson, American actor and writer, with Igbo parenthood.
Contrary to Oba Rilwan Akiolu’s claims and boast, he does not own Lagos and its people including its elected public office holders. Rather, he is owned by the people of Lagos State including the Igbos living in the State. As a matter of fact, Oba Akiolu Rilwan is the number one stranger in Lagos State. This is more so when the legality and legitimacy of his stool which he ascended in 2003 is still a subject of litigation before a Lagos State High Court at Igbosere. The Oba’s intolerance to due process, rule of law and democratic principles clearly manifested in the referenced court case filed since 2003; whereby he reportedly bottled the case and kept frustrating its hearing and determination for the past eleven years. The case was only opened for hearing in 2014 eleven years after it was filed.
We are therefore not surprised at the despicable and shocking royal disposition of Oba Akiolu. He has only said what has been hatched and being executed against the Igbo Natives and Nation by his likes in the Southwest and other hostile parts of the country. As the serving Assistant Inspector General of Police, before his unceremonious retirement in 2002 with referenced beastly Igbo hatred and xenophobia, only God knows how many innocent Igbo citizens that might have been felled by his bullet extra-judicially. It is possible that the voices and spirits of the murdered are on a revenge mission.
We join other well meaning Nigerians in condemning the Yorean conducts of the stranger Oba of Lagos and urge Igbos living in the State and all over the Southwest not to be perturbed and intimidated. The stranger Oba’s curse is thunderously back to sender and spineless. We dare say that the votes of the Igbo natives are priceless and beyond what money or threats or intimidation can buy or procure.
The Igbos votes are their amulets and bullet proof vests against their oppressors and witch-hunters. We dare say and direct that on Saturday, Igbos of Lagos and other Southwest residency should troop out en-masse and vote for the gubernatorial and State legislative candidates of their choice and conscience and nothing will happen.
We wish to roundly and resoundingly commend the citizens who exposed this 21st century cannibalistic and barbarous royal conduct of the stranger Oba. The ball is now in the court of the security agencies in Nigeria as well as the National Human Rights Commission and other local and foreign rights bodies and missions. The conduct of the Oba under reference is big a slap on the faces of the Nigeria Police Force where he served as AIG; the Nigerian Bar Association, where he is a member; the University of Lagos, where he graduated as a lawyer and the Lagos and the Southwest Traditional Rulers Council where he is a leading member. Oba Rilwan Akiolu is a huge disappointment to Nigerian Traditional Rulers institution and a quick reminder of cannibalistic conducts of the Saladin of Egypt who ate human fresh during Christian crusades against Muslims in 12th and 13th centuries. The Oba’s raw partisanship instead of the opposite is also shocking and deafening. It is our call that he should be dethroned and made to surrender his staff and certificate of office. He should be arrested, investigated and tried for hate speech and threatened group violence against innocent citizens living in Lagos State of Nigeria.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Barr Chiugo Onwuatuegwu, Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program