When the news was first broke that Oba Rasheed Akanbi, the Oluwo of Iwo beat up another monarch, I thought the cynics were only trying to expose the royal father to public ridicule. Alas,the unfortunate incidentwhich was reported to have occurred in the presence of AIG Bashir Makama, the State Police Commissioner and even the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters in the state of Osun was neither denied by Oluwo nor the police authorities till this moment.
Ordinarily, the royal fathers as custodians of Yoruba culture and traditions shouldn’t have descended so low to engage themselves in physical combat even at the point of provocation. With the status and exalted stools occupied by the two traditional rulers,it is painful that the duo failed to guide their heritage jeolously.Regretably,failure of Oluwo to toy a path of honour in overcoming his anger at the point of provocation,if any, has exposed their sacred mandate to public ridicule.Somehow,the unfortunate incident has diminished the honour, respect and dignity the stools of the two monarchs symbolise and command.
The current development is a further reminder ofhow how the name of Oluwo of Iwo has been associated with several controversies in the past. Rather than being a true symbol of Yoruba culture,values and tradition, he is either being accused of one misdemeanour today or other infraction tomorrow. No one cares about the antics and other intolerable public outbursts of Oluwo until his recent public misconduct.
If the land tussle between the neighbouring towns of the spring state could not be resolved through amicable settlement, the matter should have been referred to the court of law. I agree that our traditional rulers are human-beings and could therefore have reasons to disagree. This particular incident is more or less a theatre of absurdity, seeing the two traditional rulers fighting dirty and roughly in the public. if verbal argument between Oluwo of Iwo and Agbowu of Ogbagbaa is allowed to snowball into open confrontation,it shows the level of degeneration and moral laxities among the nation’s traditional rulers.
No matter the level of provocation, Oluwo should not have turned himself to a boxer. It saddens one heart to see two highly revered monarchs turning a peace meeting summoned by the police to a royal rumble. Even if no one speaks out against the shameful action of Oluwo, he should be courageous enough to cover his face in shame for ridiculing the stool of his forbears apart from the legal consequence of such inglorious behaviour in the public.
Regardless of the causative agent and irrespective of who actually provoked the situation, the action of Oluwo of Iwo remains condemnable. With the injury sustained by Oba Dhikrulahi Akinropo, the Agbowu of Ogbagbaa during the fiasco, the transgressor being the Oluwo in this circumstance should not be seen as being treated as a king who is above the law.
Failure to bring the controversial Oluwo to justice will become a bad precedence. Apart from the legal implications of assault occasioning harm, it is sacrilegious for a king to beat up another king either within or outside his domain. An open fight between the two royal fathers in which one ended in the hospital is highly ridiculous and could not be justified culturally and by ethical reasoning.
The continuous silence and philosophical calmness of Governor Isiaka Oyetola, the Governor of the spring state gives an impression that it is either His Excellency has overtly endorsed the reign of royal banditry in the state of Osun or probably the case of criminal assault is adjudged by the government as usual political matter.
In my view, none of the excuses given by Oluwo of Iwo to have turned himself to a boxer is reasonable enough to exonerate him of culpability. Someone needs to counsel Oluwo that the excuse that he only tried to defend himself against Agbowa’s attempt to stick his staff of office in his eyes seems to be a mere defence mechanism.
Since the royal rumble occurred in the state of Osun, the police authorities in whose presence the ugly incident happened has not made any public statement todeny or confirm the incident. If police could not made any statement twenty four hours after the royal fiasco, it may not be an aberration to accuse the police ofconnivance or negligence. This type of incident shouldn’t be handled whimsically or with levity because it can lead to communal crisis, if carelessly handled.
What the incident further portend is that no one is saved even in the custody of the police, if assault of that magnitude could be successfully carried out in the presence of AIG and other top government functionaries.
The incident also raises the question of several unresolved land and boundary disputes among communities in Nigeria. With the current trend in the country, land disputes cannot be resolved by physical combat rather the parties in such conflicts should learn to approach the court of law once peaceful resolution seems to be impossible. The state government must equally have an holistic look at the immediate and remote causes of land disputes in the state of Osun for the state to achieve sustainable peace, progress and development.
Public Affairs Analyst writes from Oyo,