23rd October, 2014
The Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG, a Yoruba a socio-cultural group operating in the western part of Nigeria, has threatened to carry out a protest to vote against the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara state in 2015 for alleged disrespect for the traditional institution of the Yoruba people in the state.
The threat came Thursday from ARG Kwara. The body accused the administration of Governor AbdulFatah Ahmed of disdain for rule of law in a petition served on the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs of state, Abdullahi Shaaba Umar, and the Speaker of the state legislature, Razak Atunwa.
The group is angry that the government’s recent grading exercise for traditional rulers ended up in what it called ethnic marginalisation of traditional rulers from the Yoruba speaking areas of the state.
The petition, also made available to P.M. NEWS, was signed by top members of the group including Asiwaju Joe Olarogun, Alhaji Saka Agboola Raji, and Baba Ba’ako.
“All the 70 chieftaincy stools graded by government were in Kwara South senatorial district,” the petition read. “Other memoranda from Yoruba rulers in Central and North districts were ignored because the two districts comprised the Ilorin Emirate.
“Six monarchs from Asa, Moro and Ilorin East Local Government Areas – 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,” the organisation said.
According to the ARG, the 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“Both rankings were inexplicably withdrawn in 1984 during the military regime.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 Governor Muhammed Lawal restored the rankings but Governor Bukola Saraki withdrew them again.
“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.
“The government only recently appealed this judgment; six months after the statutory 90 days for filing appeal have elapsed,” it said.
The petition further stressed: “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 the two cases cited, clearly proves government’s insensitivity in allowing the emirate to use state apparatus to lord it over Yoruba communities.
It 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 Governor Ahmed Makarfi created a chiefdom for the Zango Kataf area.
The petition said the state government’s action was only aimed at propping up, 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 Governor Ahmed’s administration and the All Progressives Congress (APC) under Senator Bukola Saraki failed to address the grievances.