‘The Egbas Had Always Wanted To Oppress Our People’, Barr. Seun Akinbiyi
In an exclusive chat with VOA, a renowned lawyer and seasoned politician, barrister Seun Akinbiyi who has stood in the legal profession for almost three decades explicitly recounts his experience charting the course of Ota and Awori in the legal balcony.
Can you tell us some of the cases you have handled as touching Ota and Awori?
I have handled a case with Ota about masquerades. It involved which particular masquerade dances last. They wanted to figure out which masquerade should dance last as the popular Yoruba adage,’Egun nla lo n gbehin igbale’.
The case started in 1993 and we finished it in 1996. The Oloponda family from Itimoko wants their own masquerade(Oya Itimoko) to dance last. The case was charged to court and all the masquerades in Ota with their flowing gown in solidarity supports for their own faction of the Oya all stood out from their abode at Igbale along Mefun road. You can imagine the euphoria of having lots of masquerades in their different flowing gowns having to march from Ota to the high court along Idiroko expressway.
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On the day of the final court pronouncement, security was beefed up. There was enough reinforcement of Policemen from the Elewe-Eran Police headquarter because the Sango Zonal Police post could not provide adequate security for that kind of pronouncement.
Prior to the court judgement, i received a call from a well wisher who advised me not to intervene in their Egungun palava. But my father supported my course. He trained me up to be a lawyer and he could not stand me being hurt. I proceeded with the case eventually.
Finally, a court ruling was made and Oloponda’s Oya was dumped and the other Oya was pronounced to be dancing last based on the evidences before the court.
Is there any other case of interest you have been involved with?
Yes, the Egbas wanted to claim Ota land. Though, there had been claims and impressions that the Egbas had always wanted to oppress our people. You will find that in the political sphere. Ifo for instance, people from Egba would come from Abeokuta to represent us at different political levels.
So, about 12 to 15 years ago, this came to play in Ota because of the vast land we have and our nearness to Lagos. Even some people from Ibadan, Ekiti and so on want to be chief in Otta.
The case we have handled here in our chamber involved the Ayekandu family from Sango who are not even related to Ota in any way. The case was charged to court. On the day of the pronouncement, they did not show up and by consequence, we won the case.
Another one is the case of Oju-Esu at Sango Otta which some people destroyed. You know, Otta people believes that Oju-Esu is the symbol of the Aworis at Sango Otta. We challenged the case in court and we also won.
The four Otta families that dominates Sango Otta includes;
- Ojabi family (When you cross to the other side of Sango from Ota, going through Ijoko Otta by the right).
- Aribiti family ( The one on the right side of Sango Otta before you cross the bridge).
- Ajego family (The one on the left side when you face Ijoko after the bridge at Sango Otta).
- Omiyela ( The one of the right side when before you cross the bridge at Sango Otta).
The commissioner of justice has written to Mr. Gbohun who parades himself as the Onisango of Sango to stop parading himself as such. But you see, assuming we are in a country that we respect the rule of law, he should have been behind bars by now for still seeing himself as the Onisango of Sango.
To curb the menace of illegal installation of Obas and chiefs on Awori land, what do you suggest we can do as a people aside going to court?
Let everyone go to the media. Voice of Awori is a good example. By the time we publicize from time to time what is really happening around us, one day, it will catch the attention of powers that be.
There was a time you contested as a senator to represent Ogun west, there was another time we saw your campaign posters where you were contesting for Governor of Ogun state. What interests you in politics?
It is about we people coming together to improve our lifestyles, our living standard and so on. It is a collective responsibility. Contesting for political post is about let us try and improve our standard of living. Ogun west is cheated and we contribute more than 50% of the money in Ogun state outside the money that is coming from the federation’s account. We are near to the border and as a result, we generate funds through custom duties at the Imeko, Idiroko borders.
In my own knowledge, combining all the experience i have gathered in the law profession and my master’s degree in Economics, it puts me in a good position to govern my people.
Ahead of 2019, do you still have the mindset of contesting for any political position?
Right now, i am just observing. I have not decided if i will run or not. I did not loose money in the last election which i contested, rather, i spent money. My wife is a high court judge, i still feed her. It was my hard earned money that we used to campaign. When we get to the bridge, we will cross it.
What can you say about Voice Of Awori?
I quite commend you guys. You are doing a great job. The road may be rough and tough but it will pay off with time. When you are doing something that is uncommon, you will go far and wide. Be determined that nothing is going to stop you and you will get there.