By Ismaeel Uthman
The battle for the removal of Akire of Ikire, Oba Olatunde Falabi, by a prince from the Akintula ruling house, Mr.Tajudeen Akintula, took a new dimension on Sunday as hoodlums laid siege on the palace in an attempt to attack the traditional ruler.
Oba Falabi, according to sources in Ikire was whisked away by his personal security agents, while some of his chiefs were unlucky as they were reportedly attacked.
OSUN DEFENDER gathered that soldiers, who were deployed to Ikire for the enforcement of the curfew imposed by Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, intervened in a bid to avoid breakdown of law and order.
But the soldiers, who were about six in number, were attacked by the hoodlums, according to credible sources.
The sources informed the medium that two of the soldiers were disarmed by the thugs, while their patrol vehicles were also vandalised at Idi-Adie area of Ikire.
According to the sources, the hoodlums went away with the soldiers’ guns before they were returned on Tuesday.
It was learnt that the soldiers beat a retreat and returned to their barrack in Ede.
The medium gathered that the soldiers went back with reinforcement on Tuesday and launched attack on their suspected assailants, a development that threw the community into confusion.
Sources in the community confided in OSUN DEFENDER that scores of people were killed in the attack, while some corpses were reportedly taken away by the soldiers.
Different figures of deaths recorded in the attack were being spread, but the most consistent is that not fewer than 15 people lost their lives.
A prominent indigene of Ikire, who craved anonymity, in an interview with OSUN DEFENDER yesterday, said: “What happened in Ikire has nothing at all to do with EndSARS protests, but the people that instigated the crisis hid behind the protests as an opportunity to launch attack and forcefully take over the palace.
“The Prince, who hails from Akintula ruling house, and who recently secured a court judgment purportedly ousting the current Akire, mobilised his loyalists and supporters to the palace on Monday, and violence erupted.
“The soldiers in Ikire intervened to curtail the violence but the hoodlums attacked the soldiers, disarming two of them and took their guns away. Their vehicle was also vandalised at Idi-Adie area of Ikire. But the two guns have been recovered on Tuesday.
“The soldiers had to escape from the scene by hijacking motorcycles to flee. The soldiers came back for reprisal attack and to retrieve their guns on Tuesday. In that process, the soldiers were shooting sporadically and some people were killed by stray bullets. As a matter of fact, no fewer than 15 people, including the miscreants, lost their lives in the ensuing crisis.
“The house of a person acting like Prince Akintula’s godfather was burnt. The said godfather is the disrobed Apena of Ikireland, Chief Ologbojo. The soldiers believed that he was the one coordinating the thugs who attacked them. The soldiers also burnt down the hideouts of the thugs, just as they were going to the houses of all the people suspected to be involved in the attack one after the other.
“The soldiers were able to retrieve their guns on Tuesday. The said Prince Akintula is nowhere to be found. The Akire is yet to return to the palace. The palace itself is under lock. Peace is gradually returning to Ikire.”
In another account, a resident of Ikire, who claimed to have witnessed the crisis, said Prince Akintula’s supporters stormed the Akire palace on Monday morning in a bid to overthrow the Akire of Ikire. The Falabi family, who produced the current Akire mobilised soldiers against the thugs that were attacking the palace.
“The thugs confronted the soldiers, attacked them and took away two guns. The vehicle of the soldiers was also damaged. The soldiers reinforced and came back to Ikire with full-scale reprisal attacks on their suspected assailants.
“The Ikire Progressive Union intervened and the guns of the soldiers have been retrieved and that is why peace is returning to the community now.”
In a press statement, the Akire chiefs under the auspices of Akire-in-Council, alleged Akintula of being behind the civil unrest in Ikire.
Signed by the Secretary of the Council, Chief Muritala Falana, the Aare Omooba of Ikireland, the press statement reads: “The Akire-in-Council was in the course of its usual Monday meeting at 9am, when suddenly some hoodlums, with canes, cutlasses and guns in hand, forced their way into the Palace gate and then into the Hall.
“They were engaged by the chiefs and it was learnt in the process that they were sent by Mr. Taju Akintula, a contestant to the throne of Akire, which case is still in the appeal court. All appeals to them to maintain peace fell on deaf ears, as they started beating the chiefs and in the process inflicted bodily harms on many; and His Royal Majesty, Oba Olatunde Falabi himself was roughly handled before he was rescued by his personal aides.
“It was later learnt that the Army team on Patrol, due to the already existing security situation in Osun State, was attacked at Oke-Ola, Ikire, dispossessed of their guns, manhandled and their vehicles destroyed.
“With the continuous aggravation of the crisis and amidst the chaos, Kabiyesi and his immediate family had to be whisked away from the Palace by his aides, and of course since that was the intention of the sponsors, the vehicles were destroyed in the process but he was successfully taken to a safe haven.
“Subsequently, the dispatch of reinforcements from Ede to recover the guns snatched from the army and the concerted efforts of noble elders of our town helped in restoring relative peace to our dear town. However, through it all, many were inflicted with various degrees of injuries, properties were damaged and lives were lost.
“To forestall future occurrence of such unfortunate situation, we, the Akire-in-Council and other noble sons and daughters of Ikireland, call for further investigations of this matter by appropriate government institutions and demand that everyone found culpable for the sponsoring of the hoodlums who caused the disturbance which led to the loss of lives and wanton destruction of properties should be brought to face the music, with justice given to the departed souls.”
Speaking with OSUN DEFENDER newspaper, Prince Yaya Adesoye Isola, who spoke on behalf of the Akintula ruling house, said his brother, Tajudeen, knew nothing about the attack on the Akire, chiefs and the soldiers on peace-keeping mission.
According to Isola, Ikire youths were the ones that protested against Oba Falabi, who refused to vacate the stool in spite of the Supreme Court judgment and recent High Court verdict that had dethroned him.
Isola said: “What happened on Monday has no connection with Tajudeen or the Akintula family. The youths of Ikire town, who the political gladiators have been suppressing, revolted. A judgment was given in 2014 and set aside whatever Falabi has, to be installed a king. He instituted a case against the Osun government and the court also ruled against him on the matter on June 29, 2020.
“The court said he must not continue to be the Akire of Ikire. How can number 3 be number 1? The whole town heard about it, 99 percent of the people – young and old were not happy and the youths revolted. Nobody sent them. We just woke up and heard the news.
“You can go to the town to know what is happening. For anyone to have accused Tajudeen of being behind the attack is fallacious. They should come and prove if he was seen doing that. I can’t put figures to the death recorded but the news that got to us was that people were killed.”
In her reaction, Police Public Relations Officer, Osun Command, Mrs. Yemisi Opalola, said she could not put a figure to the number of deaths recorded in the crisis.
According to Opalola, it is true that some people were killed, but the police could not ascertain the number of persons that lost their lives.
Opalola said Oba Falabi was safe and that normalcy has returned to Ikire.
Oba Olatunde Falabi, Lambeloye III ascended the Akire royal throne about 33 years ago, after a long succession dispute, following the demise of Oba Oseni Boladale Oyegunle, the previous Akire of Ikireland.