Thursday, July 4, 2013
LET TRUTH, JUSTICE AND RULE OF LAW PREVAIL IN GANMO IFELODUN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF KWARA STATE BY IPF
IGBOMINA PATROTIC FRONT
Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed,
The Executive Governor of Kwara State,
Your Excellency Sir,
We make this petition to you with a view to obtaining from the Kwara State Government, which by the Grace of Allah is under your able leadership, just, urgent and firm resolution of the protracted dispute over land and chieftaincy rights between the Igbomina people of Ganmo, who are the original settlers of the town, and the descendants of Idi Ape Family, who arrived much later from Ilorin to settle in the town. Such a course of action as we are requesting of your government is necessary to check the arson and bloodshed that have recently stained the integrity of Kwara State.
The history of Ganmo and the facts of the crisis arising from the conflicting claim of the two groups on land and chieftaincy rights in the town are well documented. The Oluganna family represents the Igbomina people while Oniganmo represents the Idi-Ape descendants in the conflict. It is necessary to state from the outset that the matters (both land and chieftaincy) have undergone various tests since 1972, including litigations from the lowest to the highest benches across the nation, the climax being major ones between 1981 and 2005. These are suit nos KWS/113/81, CA/K/69/90, SC/1/1996 and suit nos KWS/OM/5/91 AND CA/IL/90/2006.
In 1981, the Idi-Ape family represented by Alhaji Garba Akosile and six others challenged amongst others, the claim to villages of Ganmo, Alomilaya, Adiloju and Gbagede covered by, “Permit Alienated land No. 0239 and Customary Right of Occupancy Title No. 283, granted to the Igbomina family of Oluganna, represented by Alhaji Abbulkarim Kolawole (as the then head of Igbomina in Ganmo).
The action against Alhaji Kolawole and family (Igbomina) however failed in a judgment delivered by Hon. Justice J. A. Ibitoye on 7th September 1989.This attracted appeal and cross appeals under suit nos CA/K/69/90 and SC/1/1996,both at the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court respectively. In all the appeals, Alhaji Kolawole and Oluganna family (Igbomina) retained the title to the land of Ganmo and adjoining villages of Alomilaya and Gbagede. As if these were not enough, the Idi-Ape family again instituted actions against Oluganna (Igbomina) family in suit KWS/OM/5/91 and KWS/53/2005 respectively. In suit KWS/OM/5/91, the Idi-Ape family through its representatives this time around, challenged the claims to the traditional head of Ganmo, while in suit No. KWS/53/2005, the same Idi-Ape family sought court interpretation of land ownership earlier decided by the High Court, Appeal Court and Supreme Court respectively in favour of Kolawole family (Igbomina).
In suit KWS/53/2005 which was decided by an Ilorin High Court judge, His Lordship, Hon. Justice A. A. Adebara on 27th Day of July 2005, various issues were touched and determined by the learned judge in respect of land matters and invariably the control of Ganmo. Apart from affirming the right of claim to Ganmo land by Kolawole family (Igbomina), the court held that the family has right to prosecute any person that trespasses on the land. It warned, “At appropriate and relevant stage, a committal proceeding can hold against any of the parties to the proceedings in suit No. KWS/113/81 or their servants, agents and/or privies or any person whosoever claiming through them that disregard this judgment”. This interpretation thus sealed the hope of Idi-Ape family to lay any claim to Ganmo land.
Having failed in its attempts to secure the grip of Ganmo land, the Idi-Ape family them relied on suit no KWS/53/2005 before an Omu-Aran High Court presided over by Hon. Justice Oluyemisi Ajayi, which was to determine who should be traditional head of Ganmo. It needs mention that at various times, both the then Igbomina/Ekiti Division and Ifelodun Local Government Enquiry under which Ganmo is situated, had instituted Panels of Enquiry on the Ganmo Chieftaincy Stool. The contest had also been entertained at Area Courts as far back as 1972. All the cases were decided in favour of Oluganna family (Igbomina).
Paradoxically, Hon. Justice Oluyemisi Ajayi decided against Oluganna family (Igbomina) and awarded Idi-Ape family (Afonja) the chieftaincy stool of Ganmo. Expectedly, the Oluganna family (I.e. the Igbomina), raised an appeal against the lower court decision to the court of Appeal on many grounds which included:
(a) That the court jettisoned reports by the Panels of Enquiry to Ganmo Chieftaincy Stool by Igbomina/Ekiti Division and Ifelodun Local Government (the appointing authority) at various times.
(b) That the court refused to take cognizance of the fact that ownership of Ganmo land by Oluganmo as the first settler is directly related to the chieftaincy stool of Ganmo which is in line with Yoruba customs and tradition.
(c) That the court also refused to acknowledge the sacrosanct of earlier decision of Supreme Court placed before it during the trial.
During the trial before Hon. Justice Oluyemisi Ajayi, the Oluganna family traced its lineage to Ganmo-Nganku who hailed from Oyo-Ile, and claimed to derive its name from the founder of Ganmo, who was appointed and installed as the first Baale of Ganmo by Alaafin of Oyo. The family claimed that Ganmo had been in existence before Ilorin was founded.
According to the family history, the first man from Ilorin (Idi-Ape family) to Ganmo was a slave to one Summonu Okunoye, which the Idi-Ape family regarded as their progenitor. The Oluganna family (Igbomina) claimed that the title of Mogaji and Baale meant two different things and further claimed that there was no traditional office known as Mogaji existing in Ganmo or any part of the district under Ifelodun Local Government (Igbomina) in Kwara State.
We have gone this far to trace the genesis of the crisis and how it has been repeatedly resolved in favour of Igbomina in Ganmo i.e. the Oluganna family. It should bother any sane mind therefore that despite all the victories of the Oluganna family (Igbomina), the family has remained at the receiving end of injustice through the neglect of the authorities. Suffice it to add that of all cases (about seventeen) instituted at various times, the Oluganna family (Igbomina) had been vindicated except the particular one handled by Hon. Justice Oluyemisi Ajayi (rtd), which was eventually overturned by an appellate court in favour of Oluganna family.
From the foregoing, it is crystal clear that the crisis in Ganmo shouldn’t have arisen where there is respect for the rule of law and constituted authority. The community had witnessed organized house burning and destruction of property, maiming and killings in five different occasions with impunity. The first was between 10th-12th July 2002, followed by others on 18th March 2008, 16th November 2010, 17th-18th March 2013 and 19th-21st June 2013. These attacks had always started from one side-precisely from Idi-Ape descendants at Ganmo. In the 17th-18th March 2013 attack, twenty five houses were burnt, three people lost their lives and others injured. In all, about 120 families were displaced. Similarly, the latest attack of 19th-21st June 2013 claimed many lives and property, including the Oluganna’s palace, which was completely burnt down.
The Ganmo crisis poses many unanswered questions to the state government and security agents. Why should a section of Ganmo Community be left unprotected? Why should Idi-Ape descendants of Ganmo resort to self-help after failing in litigation attempts? Has the crisis any ulterior motive yet to be unfolded?
It will not be out of place to review other extraneous activities that may prove the suspicions that the provoked crisis has a larger interest and backing. Undoubtedly, Ganmo is a boundary town between Ilorin and Igbomina. The South-West end of Ganmo has the Igbomina House strategically placed to demarcate the boundary. It is recalled that during its construction, effort were made by some unscrupulous people to thwart the efforts. Its official commissioning also witnessed rancor.
It is equally an open secret that part of Idofian District in Ifelodun Local Government Area (in Igbomina land) was at a time proposed to be annexed to Ilorin Emirate, a move vehemently opposed by Igbomina leaders. We also have it in good authority that some leaders of Igbomina stock in Ganmo were been lobbied to jettison Igbomina land in order to allow a shift of boundary between Ilorin Emmirate and Igbomina land. This overture, we understand, has also been rebuffed.
We do not want to jump into conclusion over the motive on this persistent crisis but we hasten to add that the patience of Igbomina of Ganmo, the proven original settlers nay, Igbomina nation have been over stretched. Ganmo is proven to be Igbomina as represented by the Oluganna and the owner of land and paramount ruler of Ganmo. This is consistent with history, facts and law! Government should do the right thing by according Ganmo its status and Oluganna (Igbomina) his rightful place amongst the Obas in Kwara State.
We detest the provocation of our kinsmen in Ganmo which should stop henceforth. We hereby implore the law enforcement agents and all concerned authorities to be up and doing to protect lives and property in Ganmo, particularly the Igbomina Community against the aggression of Idi-Ape descendants. Let there be Peace!
The current resort to violence in Ganmo is a test of the will of the Kwara State Government to protect the people and integrity of Kwara as the State of Harmony. It is the historic responsibility of Your Excellency to check the rascality and ensure peaceful coexistence of the people of the town through a decisive action based on Truth, Justice and the Rule of Law.
We will continue to support your administration and pray for God’s guidance, all times.
Dn O. S. Awolaran Lawrence Adeboye Esq
National Secretary Asst. National Secretary
Chief Adeboye Olabanji
Source: National Mirror News Paper