The Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, has said he stands by his rankings of monarchs in Yorubaland.
Gbadebo said his rankings were based on a government gazette, not a newspaper publication, as the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, had claimed.
The Alake, who was responding to the recent public outburst against him by the Awujale through Egba palace chiefs on Monday at his palace in Abeokuta, accused the Ijebu monarch of churning out “historical falsehood in the presence of knowledgeable Nigerians.”
Addressing reporters at a press conference at the Ake Palace in company with the other Egba high chiefs, the Ba’aroyin of Egbaland and media aide to the Alake, Lai Labode, said Gbadebo relied on documentary evidence before making his rankings.
Labode, who read the statement of the Egba Chieftaincy Committee signed by Chief Sikirulai Atobatele, quoted extensively from a colonial government gazette dated 1903 to support the claims of the Alake on the ranking of Yoruba traditional rulers.
Adetona had on Thursday described the Alake as a “junior king in Yorubaland.”
The Awujale had also berated the Alake for categorising himself among the five top monarchs in Yorubaland.
He was speaking at a fundraiser for a professorial chair instituted in his honour by the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, in Lagos.
Awujale had reacted to a categorisation of monarchs by the Alake recently when the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, visited him (Alake), which he (Awujale) considered to be a falsehood.
The Egba chiefs, who insisted on the rankings, said the Alake relied on the Government Gazette of the Colony of Lagos dated February 20, 1903, page 100, paragraph 16.
They argued that the gazette “is a subsidiary legislation which has force of law and therefore a public document available for verification.”
Further authenticating this claim, the chiefs, numbering over 20, admitted that it was true that the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, and Awujale had called Alake to verify whether he (Alake) actually made the statement on Yoruba oba rankings.
They said the Alake never recanted his statement, but he stood by his rankings because it was supported by documentary evidence.
A three-page response by the chiefs partly read, “Both Awujale and Oba of Lagos actually called Alake on the ranking of Yoruba obas, Alake responded that his rankings were supported by documentary evidence and he, therefore, stands by his position.”
They also refuted Awujale’s claim that Alake was a junior chief in Egba forest under Alaafin from where he fled to Ibadan.
They also said that the Alake was never sacked by the Ijebu army, adding that the claim that he (Alake) later fled to Abeokuta where he met the Osile, the Olowu, the Agura and Olubara, all of whom had previously settled in Abekuta before him, was not true.
The chiefs said 20 Alakes had reigned in the Egba forest prior to the founding of Abeokuta in 1830, adding that there was no Alake that fled to or took refuge in Ibadan.
They added, “The Egbas arrived and settled in Abeokuta mainly in 1830. The first Alake in Abeokuta was installed in 1854, followed by the Olowu in 1855, the Agura in 1870 and the Osile in 1897.”
Buttressing their position on the Alake’s ranking above Awujale, the chiefs quoted the Lord Lugard’s grading and salaries of obas in the Southern Province.
The grading revealed that the two first class monarchs were on different salary scales, with the Alake receiving £2, 250 and the Awujale receiving £1, 700.
They gave the source of the information as Page 4, paragraph 4, Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Information National Archives, Files Nos. 33044, CSO 26, letter SP 11828120, Secretary’s Office, Southern Province, Enugu. 31st January, 1938.
The chiefs, while reacting to Awujale’s description of Alake as “being young and inexperienced” said this was uncalled for and neither civil nor decent.
They said, “We do not intend to defile the sacred Yoruba traditional institution. We, therefore, refrain from exchanging insults with a highly regarded monarch of his status.”
On Awujale’s claim that himself and the immediate past Alake, Oba Oyebade Lipede, met with former President Olusegun Obasanjo at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, on the ranking of Yoruba monarchs, the Egba chiefs wondered why the “Awujale did not give the outcome of the meeting,” adding, “We don’t want to insinuate that if it were advantageous, he would have mentioned it.”