Sunday, 29 October 2017

The Godfather and the Governor: How Lamidi Adedibu Removed Rashidi Ladoja as Oyo State Governor by Onigegewura

The Speaker knew something was wrong immediately he entered the chambers of the parliament. For a moment he wondered if he had stepped into a wrong building. But the inscription on the building was bold and clear: Oyo State House of Assembly. It was not a wrong building. But something was still amiss. On the seat reserved for him as the Speaker, an apparent stranger was already seated holding the gavel.

Well, not really an apparent stranger. The seat was occupied by a fellow lawmaker who was also the Deputy Speaker. “What insolence!” Abraham Adeleke, the Speaker, thought as he marched briskly towards the usurper. Laiku ekìri, ta lo le fi awo ra da gbedu [Who could use the skin of a live animal to make a drum?]

With all the dignity he could muster under the circumstance, he ordered his Deputy, Taiwo Oluyemi, to vacate his seat. Oluyemi did not even acknowledge his presence. He continued flipping through the documents on the table as though he was not the person being addressed. Adeleke, now towering over the seated figure, repeated his order in a very loud voice. Oluyemi refused to budge. By this time, other parliamentarians had started assembling behind either the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker, urging their respective choice not to yield.

Oluyemi raised his head a little to make a mental count of his supporters. They were 17. He smiled for the first time. He was emboldened  by the number. The speaker’s crowd was smaller, they were 12 in number. There was a lone lawmaker who appeared undecided whether to go with Oluyemi or Adeleke. He continued to look from one to the other. Finally he moved toward the smaller camp, the speaker’s camp. It was now 18 to 14.
Parliament Building

The historic Parliament Building which foundation was laid in 1955 by Sir John Rankine and which was opened in February 1956 by Her Majesty the Queen erupted! Adeleke was being urged to push the imposter from the seat. “I am the Speaker” He bellowed.  Oluyemi, who was holding tightly to both the chair and the table, responded: “I am in the majority”. Parliamentary decorum was thrown to the winds. The hallowed chambers became a circus. Chairs were being used freely as weapons of mass destruction. Traders in Dugbe market would have been proud of the bedlam.

Oluyemi realized that Adeleke and his group, though smaller in number, were not ready to concede either the seat or the title of the speaker to him. He made a sign to his supporters. They all made their way out of the chambers. Cars and buses appeared as if on cue. They trooped in and the convoy moved off at speed.

Civil servants heard the commotion going on in the House. They all abandoned their offices and came out to witness the drama. They scampered out of the way as the vehicles carrying the legislators sped out of the State Secretariat. “Where are they going?” A young man asked the elderly man beside him. The old man, who appeared to be a visitor to the seat of power, shook his head. “I don’t know. That was the same question I asked when I was your age when I witnessed a similar incident in 1962!”

If the young man had asked Onigegewura, I would have told him that I knew where the 18 parliamentarians were going.

They moved to Ozemire Hall in the popular D’Rovans Hotel along Ring Road. They quickly arranged themselves. At exactly 12.30pm, Hon. Taiwo Oluyemi from Ibarapa Constituency was led into the hall by the sergeant at arms. The first thing they did was to appoint the former Deputy Speaker as the Acting Speaker. That done, the newly inaugurated speaker proclaimed the Hotel hall as the new Chambers of Oyo State Legislature.

Oluyemi, the acting Speaker, informed his colleagues that as lawmakers, things must be done according to the law. He told them that a parliament must have a clerk to record proceedings. He therefore appointed Babatunde Eesuola from Atiba Constituency as the new Clerk of the House.

By now, popular politicians in the State had begun to arrive at the makeshift chambers. They were duly recognized by the new speaker. It was apparent that something was going to happen. And it soon happened. A motion was moved to serve a notice of impeachment on the Governor, Alhaji Rashidi Ladoja, for alleged gross misconduct. The motion was not opposed.

Back at the Parliament Building, the 14 lawmakers were also not idle. At 2.30pm, the assistant sergeant at arms (I hope you remember that the substantive sergeant at arms had followed Oluyemi’s group) led in the Speaker. Following the parliamentary ‘coup’ staged by Oluyemi, the House declared his position vacant. Hon. Titilola Ademola Dauda was elected as the new Deputy Speaker.

Like in 1962, when Ibadan (and the Western Region) had two Premiers, Ibadan (and Oyo State) in 2005 had two Houses of Assembly; one in the Parliament Building in the Secretariat, the other in the Ozemire Hall in D’Rovans Hotel. And like in 1962, that singular act would set in motion a chain of events that even the principal actors could not have foreseen.
Alhaji Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu

Alhaji Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu, the [then] Ekarun Olubadan of Ibadanland was the undisputed king as well as the kingmaker of Oyo State politics. His word was the law. Many years earlier, Yusuf Olatunji, the legendary doyen of sakara music had recognized the immense influence of  Alaafin Molete when he described him as idameji Ibadan ti won n pe ni enikan [one man that was half of Ibadan]. In effect, Baba L’Egba meant that if you divided Ibadan into two halves, everybody and institution in Ibadan would form one half, the generalissimo of politics would constitute the other half! That was Lamidi Adedibu! The Lion of Ibadan! The Emperor of Molete.

Anyone supported by Lamidi Adedibu was certain of becoming the eventual winner. It was therefore not a surprise when Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja, the [then] Bada Olubadan emerged as the 15th Governor of Oyo State in 2003. He was nominated and anointed for the position by the strongman himself. He was not the only one nominated. Alaafin Molete also nominated the Deputy Governor. That was not all. Two of his nominees won as the Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He single handedly nominated most of the 32 members of the House of Assembly and all of the 351 councilors in the State. They all won.

However things soon fell apart when it was apparent that Ladoja was not ready to run a puppet government.

The first crack appeared when it was time to appoint cabinet members and members of boards of governing councils of government corporations. Adedibu had expected Ladoja to ask him for nominees. The governor however had a different idea.
Rashidi Ladoja

Oyo State was a member of Oodua Group of Companies, owned by the governments of Oyo, Ondo, Osun, Ekiti and Ogun States. The practice was to rotate the chairmanship of the conglomerate among member states. It was the turn of Oyo State to nominate the chairman at the material time. Loyal party members angling for the plum position had submitted their CVs to the Ekaarun Olubadan. It was over the radio that Adedibu heard that Ladoja had appointed Karimu Latunji as the Chairman! Adedibu knew it must be a mistake. He summoned the governor. Ladoja confirmed that his nominee was very competent for the job.

The next position was the Chairman of the Governing Council of Ladoke Akintola University. Adedibu did not wait this time around for the Governor to make any announcement. Ina esisi kii jooni lemeji. [A clever person does not make the same mistake twice]  He went with his nominee to Agodi to meet with the Governor. “Your Excellency, this is the Chairman of LAUTECH!” He was shocked when His Excellency informed him that one Adegbite had been appointed. Adegbite from where? From Agbeni or Oke Ado?

It was becoming clear that Ladoja was getting too big for his shoes. Bi o ti le wu ki alagbaro ga to, eni ti o gbe oko fun loga e [No matter how tall the labourer is, the owner of the farm who employs him is his boss]. Ladoja was the labourer. Adedibu was the owner of the farm. Loyal party members who had expected to recoup their political investment from the governor also began to grumble. Nothing was forthcoming from the state treasury.

If the issue had been limited to political appointments, perhaps it could have been tolerable. However, the Governor was also not making financial returns to his chief investor and promoter. According to Adedibu: “Ladoja was too greedy. He was collecting N65 million as security vote every month. You know that governors don’t account for security votes. He was to give me N15 million of that every month. He reneged. Later, it was reduced to N10 million, yet he did not give me. That was why I disowned him…”

It was decided that Ladoja must go. The legislators were all summoned to Molete. The meeting had only one agenda. Rashidi Ladoja must be impeached. There was only one small challenge. Not all the parliamentarians were convinced that the governor should be removed. A parliamentarian informed Baba Adedibu that under the Constitution, two-third majority was required. Baba retorted sharply: “Majority is majority. Go and do your job!”

Alaafin Molete
Let us follow Onigegewura back to D’Rovans Hotel. The chieftains present congratulated Oluyemi, the ‘acting speaker’, for the successful motion of the notice to impeach the governor. The next question was how to serve the governor with the notice of alleged gross misconduct. Someone suggested that service could be effected through newspaper publication. It was a brilliant idea that everyone accepted.

The people of Oyo State woke up on December 14 to see the advertorial in The Tribune. The paper became the hottest commodity in the city of Ibadan. Vendors began to use the paper to sell other newspapers. For you to buy Tribune, you must buy two other newspapers. By 10am, no single copy of The Tribune could be found anywhere.

The notice itself was a two-paragraph letter addressed to the Governor. It reads:

I hereby write to convey to you the receipt of enclosed Notice of Impeachment from the Majority Members of the House of Assembly.

The said Notice is hereby forwarded to you for your reaction in compliance with section 188(2)(a) and (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.”

It was signed “Taiwo Oluyemi Adewale, Deputy Speaker Oyo State House of Assembly”.

Abraham Adeleke was one of the first sets of people in Ibadan to read The Tribune on December 14. He saw the notice published at the instance of  Oyo State Legislature and signed by his Deputy who had been removed. He immediately got across to his colleagues [the Ladoja Parliamentarians]. It was decided that a counter notice be issued. The Disclaimer was published the following day. The notice urged the governor “to ignore and discountenance the said Notice and publication” on the ground that Adeleke as the authentic Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly had “not given or consented to the issuance of any Notice…”

Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja knew that he had called so-n-so, and he must see so-n-so. He had dared the godfather and he must be prepared to pay the price. He called his lawyer to find out whether he could be removed as the governor of the state. His counsel was Yusuf Olaolu Alli, a brilliant Senior Advocate who was popularly called Mallam. Alli was called to the Bar in 1983 and became a Senior Advocate fourteen years later in 1997. Alli read the provisions of section 188 of the Constitution carefully. It was a very long provision containing 584 words. Alli read every word.
Yusuf Alli SAN

Mallam Alli found out that whilst one-third of the members was required to sign notice of allegation against the governor, two-third of the members was required to support the motion for removal. There were 32 members in the House. 18 members were in support of removing the governor, 14 members were against. Alli found that pro-Adedibu 18 was not up to the required 2/3. The governor did his arithmetic. He agreed with his lawyer. He was happy.

It was as if the pro-Adedibu lawmakers were privy to the legal advice issued by the governor’s counsel. They came out with a public notice where they informed the members of the public that the membership of the House was no longer 32 but 25! According to the publication, 7 pro-Ladoja members had been suspended. I know you are already working out what two-third of 25 is!

The Ladoja Parliamentarians were shocked by this publication which they knew was done to circumvent the provision of section 188. They came out with their own publication where they informed the good people of Oyo State that five pro-Adedibu lawmakers, including their acting speaker, Hon. Oluyemi Taiwo Adewale, had been suspended from further parliamentary activities. With the publication, Team Adedibu  had technically been reduced to 13!

On Thursday, December 22, the two factions converged at the Parliament Building [not the one at D’Rovans Hotel]. In a twinkle of an eye, the State Secretariat had become a theatre of war. Fierce fighting erupted between supporters of the two factions. In the battle, gunshots could be heard all over the secretariat. The seat of government was enveloped with smoke of tear gas. Civil servants fled in all directions. No one waited ‘to be directed by a superior officer’ as was the norm in public service before fleeing. Eni ori yo, o di ile!
Oyo State Secretariat

The younger ones did not hesitate before scaling the fence surrounding the secretariat. The elderly and the women ran in the direction of the swamp behind the Revenue House. Shouts of “I will not die in the name of Jesus! I will survive this in sha Allah” could be heard as the public servants ducked from the flying bullets.  

At the end of the day, charms, expended gun bullets, and vandalized furniture littered the entire compound. When it was all over, government put the value of properties destroyed at N450 million.

It was after the fracas which had lasted for more than five hours died down that Team Adedibu managed to gain control of the House of Assembly. Ijafara l’ewu [Delay is dangerous]. A motion was quickly moved to call on the acting Chief Judge to set up a panel to investigate the allegations against the governor. The motion was not opposed. The proceeding lasted less than 45 minutes.

Hon. Adeleke and his colleagues in Ladoja Team were alarmed at this turn of events. They did two things simultaneously. They wrote the Chief Judge of Oyo State informing His Lordship that there was no sitting of the House on December 22 and that the House did not move any motion to request His Lordship to set up any panel.

They also briefed Chief Adeniyi Akintola, a Senior Advocate who was worth his weight in pure gold. Since his call to Bar in 1986 Akintola had left no one in doubt that he was destined for the top of the legal profession. He was brilliant and dedicated. He reviewed the facts of the case and like Mallam Alli, he also came to the conclusion that Adedibu Legislators as constituted could not validly remove the governor. His clients were happy. They asked him to proceed to court.
Niyi Akintola SAN

Akintola was in court very early the following morning. The case was assigned to my Lord, Hon. Justice John Olagoke Ige. Akintola made powerful submissions before His Lordship. At the end of the day, he succeeded in moving the court to grant an order that status quo be maintained by all the parties. The substantive matter was adjourned to December 28. Ladoja Legislators had gained a reprieve, even if temporary.

In the papers he filed in court, Akintola challenged the actions of Adedibu Legislators as being unconstitutional, null and void. The actions being challenged include: the purported sitting at D’Rovans Hotel, Ring Road Ibadan; the service of notice of allegation of gross misconducts on Ladoja through a newspaper; and the purported motion passed by the lawmakers calling for the investigation of allegation of misconduct, amongst others.

The Adedibu parliamentarians were promptly served with the court processes. Upon being served [and this is very important, please pay attention], they did not file a memorandum of appearance. They also did not file a counter-affidavit to the affidavit in support of originating summons. [An affidavit is a statement of fact. To oppose the facts, you must file a counter-affidavit.]. Rather, they reacted by filing a notice of preliminary objection. The effect of this was to challenge the jurisdiction of the court. In a layman’s language, they argued that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case. [Please note that this case was between Adedibu Legislators and Ladoja Parliamentarians. Ladoja was not a party to this case, at this stage.]

Adewolu Ladoja, the man at the centre of the crisis, was not sitting down comfortably in the Government House. He directed his counsel, Mallam Alli, to proceed to the court to challenge his impending impeachment. Alli, in his characteristic diligent manner, did not stop there. He also filed a motion for injunction to restrain the 18-member faction from proceeding with the impeachment plan. The case was adjourned to January 13 for hearing.

On December 28, Chief Akintola, Senior Advocate led the legal team that appeared for Hon. Adeleke and Co. Messrs. Lekan Latinwo and Michael Lana led the team that appeared for Hon. Taiwo Oluyemi and his group in the Pro-Adedibu camp. Akintola put up spirited argument on why the court ought to hear the case. Messrs Latinwo and Lana maintained their position that the court had no jurisdiction to even consider the case.

The city of Ibadan waited with bated breath for the decision of the court. From Molete to Moniya, from Agodi to Apata Ganga, from Egbeda to Elekuro, there was no other matter being discussed. In all buses and offices, it was the case of the century that was being discussed.

His Lordship knew that time was of the essence, Hon. Justice Ige was therefore determined to hear and determine the case that day. No adjournment would be granted. After copious submissions by counsel, the ruling was finally ready by 5pm.

There was tight security around the court as His Lordship began to deliver the ruling of the court.. Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu was waiting in his Molete Palace. Governor Ladoja was close to his phones in the Governor’s Lodge. Everyone waited tensely to hear what the court was going to decide.

In a considered judgment, His Lordship held that the court was inclined to agree with the position canvassed on behalf of Adedibu Legislators. According to the court: “When the House of Assembly is exercising its constitutional powers in relation to impeachment proceedings or any matter relating thereto, it is performing a quasi judicial function….It is clear beyond argument that the jurisdiction of this court is clearly ousted. Impeachment and related proceedings are purely political matters over which this court cannot intervene.” Case dismissed!

In other words, the court had no jurisdiction. Ladoja should accept his fate!

That was the end of Round One. Adedibu Parliamentarians 1: Ladoja Legislators 0!

Another case was quickly filed by Team Ladoja. They were represented again by Chief Akintola. This time around, the acting Chief Judge was made a party to the suit. They sought an order to restrain the Chief Judge from constituting an investigative panel. The case was adjourned to January 20. In order words, the two cases [Ladoja’s case filed by Yusuf Alli, SAN and the Pro Ladoja Legislators’ case filed by Niyi Akintola, SAN] were adjourned to January 13 and 20 respectively. If only the experienced advocates knew what was about to happen…

On January 4, 2006, His Lordship, the acting Chief Judge, went ahead and  inaugurated the panel to investigate the alleged acts of gross misconducts against Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja, the governor of Oyo State.

The panel sat for two days. The panel did not take oral evidence from the governor or from anybody for that matter. On January 12, 2006 - a day before Ladoja’s case was scheduled to come up for hearing - the panel submitted its report to the Adedibu Parliamentarians. The report was quickly considered and in a proceeding which lasted less than 30 minutes, the 18 members summarily passed a resolution impeaching the High Chief of Ibadan,  Alhaji Senator Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja as the governor of the State.

E kare, eyin omo Akin! Oke Ibadan yoo gbeyin! Be e lomokunrin n se!” Lamidi Adedibu was reported to have congratulated Hon. Taiwo Oluyemi and his 17 colleagues for the successful operation conducted with military alacrity and political precision.

That was the end of Round Two: Adedibu Legislators 2: Ladoja Parliamentarians 0!

Ladoja knew that he was up against a formidable opponent. Okuta meji ni baba ekuro [Two stones are the bane of palm kernel]. Lamidi Adedibu was the kingmaker and the king remover. He had installed and removed Ladoja as the Governor. But Ladoja was not about to go down without a fight.

I hope you recall that the case just decided was between the two factions of the parliament of Oyo State. Ladoja was not a party to this case before Hon. Justice Ige as Onigegewura told you earlier.

Naturally, Honourable Abraham Adeleke and his team were not happy with the decision of the court. Ladoja was also not pleased either. Adeleke and his deputy, Titilayo Ademola Dauda, who were the plaintiffs before Justice Ige decided to appeal the decision. It was at the Court of Appeal that Ladoja was joined as ‘party interested’.

At the Court of Appeal, a glittering galaxy of brilliant advocates represented the parties. The Ladoja Parliamentarians were represented by a formidable team led by 5 Senior Advocates. Chief Wole Olanipekun who had become a legal institution led the team. He was assisted by an erudite Professor of Law, Taiwo Osipitan; the senior Advocate who would later become a Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu was also in the team; Kola Awodein, a counsel noted for his forensic skill as a litigator and the cerebral Adeniyi Akintola were amongst the other Senior lawyers in the team.
Wole Olanipekun SAN

Mallam Yusuf Alli led another crop of seasoned courtroom war veterans which include F. Fashanu, a Senior Advocate, T. Okusokan and K. K. Eleja. They appeared for the impeached Governor Ladoja who had been joined as the party interested. After all, a kii fari lehin olori [You don’t shave someone’s hairs in his absence].

The victorious party at the trial court, the Adedibu Legislators, were represented by the Oyo State Leader of the Bar, Michael Lana, who was the Attorney General. He was ably assisted by two Senior Advocates whose mastery of advocacy was never in doubt, Messrs Ayanlaja and Lateef Fagbemi.

The counsel for the parties demonstrated why they were all conferred with the prestigious title of Senior Advocate. Each team represented its client to the best of its ability. Wole Olanipekun was reeling out legal authorities with the ease of a professional magician. Yusuf Alli was mentioning one case after another as if he was reciting from the Quran. Mr. Ayanlaja matched his silk brothers authority for authority.

The Court of Appeal listened carefully to the submissions of all the counsel. In its judgment, the Court of Appeal disagreed with the High Court of Oyo State that it had no jurisdiction. The Court held that the High Court indeed had jurisdiction and that the trial court should have gone ahead to hear the case of the pro-Ladoja Parliamentarians.

Now, the Court of Appeal did something. What? Wait for it. I hope you remember that Onigegewura had told you that pro-Adedibu legislators  filed only a notice of preliminary objection without filing a counter-affidavit [statement of facts to oppose what is contained in an affidavit].

So what did the Court of Appeal do? Instead of returning the case to the High Court to be retried, the appellate court decided to try the case in order to save time. Yes, the Court of Appeal has this power. Every lawyer knows about section 16 of the Court of Appeal Act. Since the Adedibu Legislators had no counter-affidavit, the Court held that the facts filed by Ladoja Parliamentarians were uncontested and were therefore admitted by the Adedibu Legislators.

According to the Court: “No factional meeting of any members of a State House of Assembly can amount to a constitutional meeting of the whole House of Assembly as envisaged and provided for by the Constitution. There was no counter affidavit before the lower Court to prove that any member of the House of Assembly of Oyo State was suspended or that the plaintiffs/appellants were removed as Speaker and Deputy Speaker…It follows therefore that all the steps taken by the faction of the defendants/respondents purporting to initiate impeachment of Senator Ladoja as the Governor of Oyo State were not actions of the Oyo State House of Assembly.”

In a nutshell, the Court held that Ladoja was never removed as the Governor!

That was the end of Round 3! Ladoja had won!

The decision of the Court of Appeal on November 1, 2006 – 9 months after Ladoja was impeached – threw the palace and the camp of Alaafin Molete into turmoil. I hope you know that Ladoja’s erstwhile Deputy, Christopher Alao-Akala, had been sworn in as the Governor of Oyo State. Baba Adedibu’s Personal Assistant, Hazeem Gbolarumi, had been appointed as the new Deputy Governor. 
Christopher Alao-Akala

With the new development, Alao-Akala became one of the few people in the world who would hold office as a substantive Deputy Governor, Governor, and back to Deputy Governor, all in the course of a single year!

Afowo fonna kii duro ro ejó [someone holding burning ember doesn’t wait to chat]. Adedibu Legislators didn’t have the luxury of time. The game had changed, courtesy of the Judiciary. They flew to Abuja to file an appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division.
Supreme Court

At the apex court, a total of 22 counsel, inclusive of 1 Attorney General, 4 Senior Advocates, 1 Professor of Law, appeared for Adedibu Legislators. 20 counsel, including 5 senior Advocates, 1 professor of Law, two gentlemen who soon became senior advocates, and a gentleman who is a serving Minister in the Buhari Administration, represented Ladoja Parliamentarians. For the Governor himself, His Excellency was led by 16 senior counsel of whom 3 were Senior Advocates [one of them became Attorney General of the Federation later]. The Oyo State House of Assembly was also represented. Four counsel appeared for the parliament. It was indeed a landmark case!

The first thing the Supreme Court discovered was as shocking as it was elementary. If I ask you what took the parties to the court, what would your answer be? Impeachment of Ladoja? Yes, I knew that’s what you were going to say. The final Court in Nigeria read through section 188 of the Constitution and discovered that there was no mention of the word ‘impeachment’ in the section! You have learnt something new, abi?

Let’s move on [Don’t worry, I am getting to the end of the story]…

Justice Niki Tobi read the judgment of the Court. His Lordship found that the pro-Adedibu lawmakers, in their haste to remove Ladoja from office, contravened the provisions of section 188 on at least six different occasions. These include: holding of the meeting of parliament in D’Rovans Hotel; absence and non-service of constitutional notice of allegation against the governor; failure to obtain two-thirds majority; and non-involvement of the Speaker.

The Court held that a House of Assembly must be a physical building provided for that purpose. I hope you remember the case of Akintola v. Adegbenro as narrated by Onigegewura in the story of Two Premiers and a Governor. The Supreme Court cited the case on this point.

The Court agreed with the Court of Appeal that to return the case to the High Court to enable Adedibu Group to file their counter-affidavit would amount to a waste of time. The Court found that the group was so “miserly in the way they approached the court in this matter… All their strategy was to delay the proceedings till May 29, 2007 to make the judgment of this court barren or useless… what type of cleverness is that? What type of smartness is that? What type of trick is that?”

The Supreme Court therefore held that Senator Rashidi Ladoja was illegally removed by the Adedibu Legislators. According to the apex court: “Senator Ladoja remains the legally, constitutionally and democratically elected Governor of Oyo State.”
Rashidi Ladoja

For the second and final time, Ladoja had won! It was a decisive victory! It was a victory for democracy and rule of law.

What happened when Ladoja got back to the Government House in Ibadan? What was Baba Adedibu’s reaction to the Supreme Court judgment? What happened to the State Attorney General who argued against Ladoja? What happened to Ladoja’s Deputy who became the Governor?

Ha! That’s another story….

I thank you very warmly for reading the story to the end.

 -Olanrewaju Onigegewura©
History Does Not Forget

The right of Olanrewaju Onigegewura© to be identified as the author of stories published on this blog has been asserted by him in accordance with the copyright laws.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

For You who keep our Memories Awake


I wish I had a praise singer's tongue
I would have rocked and blown your name till your head is incensed by my praise 

I wish I had a praise chanter's voice- 

I would have thrown you up with the melody of my lines till your heartbeats  create an album of sonorous verse

I wish I had an artist's brush
I wish I had a rapper's rhymes 

you turn history's mystery into a movie
you report case laws as though you were an artiste 
tell me, how do you conjure the ghost of memory?
tell me, how do you abracadabra these legends and epic 

Onigegewura is library, trending
Onigegewura is Facebook, teaching

One session in your auditorium 
Stare decisis lose all their conundrum. 

Babajide Michael Literati Olusegun with love
Founder, The Parliament of Poets, Unilag

Onigegewura's Note: Segun, Onigegewura is very grateful for this. I expect nothing less from a fellow Great Akokite! Onigegewura is extremely grateful for this poetic effort. 

Friday, 20 October 2017

Holiday in Hell – Travails of Frederick Fasheun and Gani Adams in Detention

From her perch on the wall of the Abuja High Court, the statute of the blindfolded Lady of Justice silently watched over the usual traffic of humanity that daily passed underneath her scale and sword to seek, negotiate, and dispense justice in this hallowed compound.

This bright morning of March appeared to be no different from any other. But unknown to anyone, a drama would soon begin to play that would shatter the day’s routine.

All heads turned as the Black Maria roared into the court compound, screeching to a halt just after the gate. Men in prison warders uniform alighted from the front passenger side and swiftly moved to the back of the vehicle. Metal clanged against metal as they worked on the heavy locks of the iron door that soon swung open to allow the Black Maria spill its contents into the morning sun.
One by one, from the vehicle’s dark recesses, they appeared at the vehicle’s door-mouth and jumped down from the tailboard. Five men tied together by a common travail. As soon as their feet touched the ground, they all turned to face the vehicle and two of them stretched forth their hands. A smallish figure, bowed almost double, emerged, took hold of the outstretched hands and slid to the ground.

Any observant person could easily see the pain and fatigue etched on his elderly countenance. Supported by his two younger companions, the man trundled, half stooping and half dragging himself, into the courtroom.

He was apparently well known. For many of the policemen and lawyers hanging around exchanged quick questioning glances and whispers – gestures that spoke volumes. Their whispers and glances no doubt questioned the transition in this eminent man who had looked urbane the first time that he showed up in the court some weeks before. On that occasion, the grey in his beard and in his full mat of hair had glistened with reverence and dignity. Gone was that man. He was now replaced by a visibly ageing, sickly and weak caricature.
The group from the Black Maria, hedged by lawyers, spectators, journalists and security details, sauntered into the courtroom, from where the entourage fanned out into separate seats.

The lady Judge could not but notice the sharp metamorphosis in the condition of the leading figure in this nationally acclaimed case. With his discomfiture plainly visible, the man sat before her with sweat profusely oozing from his body; making his cloths to stick to his body as if with glue. Even a blind man would know this was a sick man who had no stamina for the rigours of a prolonged inquisition.

“This case is adjourned!” She abruptly announced, racking the gavel against the wooden block.
This time, the six men, sandwiched by security details, turned towards the exit.

When they got outside, the elderly figure broke away from his five co-accused and headed towards a bench where sat a lady with wide-rimmed glasses on her motherly face. His wife. Smiling up at him, she made space for him on the long low bench.

As he drew close to her, he apparently said something and the smile vanished from the woman’s face, quickly giving way to an alarmed look. He only took two more steps before he pitched forward, collapsing squarely on her laps. She let out an ear-piercing scream.

Everybody scampered in the duo’s direction. Black Maria co-passengers. Police. Warders. Photographers. Journalists. Lawyers. Well-wishers. The Prosecutor. Court officials. A medley of sympathy and curiosity. Instantly, a frenzied rescue effort began, employing water in different containers, newspapers, fans of all shades and sizes; everything went into the First-Aid attempt. Anxious moments went by.

But vanity upon vanity, nothing would resuscitate the distressed man. Finally a vehicle drove up and eager hands quickly stretchered the dying man into it.

As the vehicle fled the court premises with screaming sirens, the sympathisers stood transfixed for some uncomfortable moment, unaware that they stood under the silent Statute of Justice with its scale and sword.

One question played on everybody’s lips – will this detainee survive his ordeal; or had he become yet another casualty of Nigeria’s detention system that had seized him hale and hearty six months earlier when he heeded an innocuous invitation from the police?

That is where this story begins…

Onigegewura’s Note: What you have just read is the prologue to Dr. Frederick Fasheun’s Holiday in Hell – My Journey Through Detention. It is a chronicle of his experience when he was detained alongside the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Otunba Gani Adams, and four other members of the Oodua People’s Congress in 2005.

The book is a gripping account of what the six members of OPC went through from Kirikiri to Garki Area 10 to Suleja before berthing at Kuje Prison. Published by Inspired Communication Limited, it is available in bookstores across the country.

Happy Reading!

Monday, 16 October 2017

Past Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland

The 13th Aare Ona Kakanfo Ladoke Akintola dancing with his wife, Faderera, on his 55th Birthday
Ladoke Akintola in Aare Ona Kakanfo Warrior Dress

1. Kokoro Gangan [Iwoye]
2. Oyapote [Iwoye]
3. Oyabi [Ajase]

4. Adeta [Jabata]

5. Oku [Jabata]

6. Afonja Laya Loko [Ilorin]

7. Toyeje [Ogbomosho 1797]
Kashimawo Abiola on being installed as Aare Ona Kakanfo in 1988

8. Edun [Gbogun]

9. Amepo [Abemo]

10. Kurumi [Ijaye 1850]

11. Ojo Aburumaku Adio [Ogbomosho 1860]

12. Obadoke Latoosa [Ibadan 1871]

13. Lakode Akintola [Ogbomosho 1965]

14. Bashorun Kashimawo Abiola [Abeokuta 1988]

15. Otunba Ganiyu Adams [?]

Friday, 6 October 2017

Death of a Musical Partnership: The Story of Haruna Ishola and Nurudeen Alowonle by Onigegewura

Alhaji Haruna Ishola Bello Adebayo

I first came across Haruna Ishola in the shop of Uncle Lasco, the tailor. Lasco was our neighbourhood tailor. He was Lagos trained, and in those days, that was like having a Royal Charter. Lasco was also a good man. He allowed us to use his charcoal iron to press our khaki school uniforms. His shop was thus a sort of mecca for all of us.

You are wondering what Haruna Ishola was doing with Lasco, the tailor? No, Baba Gani Agba was not Lasco’s customer. I’m not even sure they ever met. Or may be they met when Lasco was being trained in Lagos. Onigegewura didn’t know and he didn’t ask.

Lasco had a poster of Haruna Ishola in his shop. It was a big poster. It featured the legendary musician with his trademark gap-toothed smile. Alhadji Haruna Ishola, MON was the caption. I asked Lasco what MON stood for. He scratched his head for some seconds before telling me it was an abbreviation for Monday. I wondered what Haruna Ishola  had to do with Monday.

Later that day, I asked Anti Wura, Buroda Alani’s third wife, the meaning of MON. If you are a regular reader of Onigegewura, you would know that Anti Wura had answer to every question. Anti Wura told me that it was not an abbreviation for Monday. According to her, it was a chieftaincy title that was given to the doyen of Apala Music by the government after he won a court case against his former business partner, Nurudeen Alowonle.

Of course you know Anti Wura was my social media. She went on to regale me with the story of the epic battle between the business partners. As usual, and as she did in the case of King Sunny Ade and the story of Ayinla Omowura, Anti Wura added spices and other condiments to the story.

Today, Onigegewura brings you the true story of the epic battle between Haruna Ishola Bello Adebayo and Nurudeen Omotayo Alowonle. It is a story of friendship and partnership. And it  is the story of the death of a musical cum business partnership.

Let me start from the beginning and tell you how and why a flourishing business partnership ended up in the court of law.

Haruna Ishola was the undisputable king of Apala Music. Notwithstanding the stiff competition from his archrival, Kasumu Adio, Baba Gani Agba enjoyed a position of pre-eminence in Yoruba social circle. His influence and popularity was however not limited to the southwest Nigeria.  He straddled the west coast of Africa like a colossus.

In the neighbouring Republic of Benin, the trio of Suradjou Alabi, Yusouf Oloyede and Anafi Alao dominated Apala music. Haruna was however the toast of our French-speaking brethren. His hit track Egbe Majority Cotonou was a praise song dedicated to his fans in the country formerly called Dahomey until 1975.You remember the track? Ti mo ba se faaji titi, ma ranti Egbe Majority ni Kutonu...Ni Porto Novo mo n ranti yin, Alhaji Shefu Arikose...

Haruna Ishola was also one of the pioneer musicians to tour Europe. Before his epic journey, apala music used to be derided as a local music. I am certain that you have heard that ko si aye apala ni ilu oyinbo [Apala music has no place in the white man’s country]. Well, that was before Haruna Ishola. He succeeded in taking Apala music to London. He went to Germany. He visited Sweden. He returned to Nigeria via Rome.

Of course you remember On my way to London ko s’ewu rara! That was the album he released on his return from his London tour. It was a momentous occasion. Haruna Ishola had broken the jinx. There was a place for Apala in the white man’s country, after all. Committee of Gentlemen of Ijebu Igbo hosted a lavish party to welcome him back from Europe.

Haruna had certainly come a long way from the young musician who released his first album in 1948 to mark the coronation of  Orimolusi Adeboye, the Oba of Ijebu-Igbo. The album was however not a commercial success. It was his second album in 1955 that catapulted him into limelight. Strangely, the second album was also in honour of Orimolusi who had just joined his ancestors.

Apala first appeared around 1940 under the names ‘Area’ and ‘Oshugbo’. According to some documented accounts which Onigegewura came across, Haruna Ishola was the one who changed the name of the music from Oshugbo to Apala when he formed his band in 1947 at the age of 28.

He was not only a musician. He had become a reference point as a social commentator and a recorder of historical events. If Haruna didn’t sing about an occurrence, it was not a landmark event.

He sang when Ooni Adesoji Aderemi became the first African Governor [Ijoba Westan Naijiriya won n pon oba le, Ooni je gomina]. He released an album when Oba Sikiru Adetona Ogbagba II ascended the throne of his fathers [Ogbagba a gbo ote wo le, lagbade fun..]. He waxed an album when Chief Obafemi Awolowo buried his mother, Mary Awolowo, in Ikenne in 1971 [Won ti n sin oku eyi ti mo ti n ri, t'oku Mama Obafemi, akoko lo je]. His album Oroki Social Club reportedly sold more than five million copies. 

Onigegewura had told you in the story of King Sunny Ade that the remunerations of Nigerian musicians of 1960s and 1970s were not commensurate with their productivity and creativity. Label owners, record dealers and music producers dictated the terms. It must have been as a result of this reason that Baba Gani Agba decided to become a label owner.

Nurudeen Alowonle
In 1964, Haruna Ishola invited a popular businessman to become his partner. Nurudeen Omotayo Alowonle was an astute investor and a known name in the music industry. He was so popular that his name, Alowonle, became the nickname of any child named Nurudeen. The next time you hear your cousin Nurudeen being referred to as Alowonle, you now know the reason. They also invited F. S Balogun and another gentleman to be part of the business.

Haruna Ishola was not a legal practitioner but he knew that for the partnership to be legal, the terms of engagement must be documented. On May 28, 1964, they all entered into an agreement to become partners. The name they chose for the partnership was Express Record Dealers Association. According to the agreement, Express Record Dealers Association was formed for the purpose of producing records with the distinguishing label mark Alowonle Sounds Studio. Nurudeen Alowonle was appointed the Managing Director of the firm. They all signed the agreements. Everybody was happy.

Haruna Ishola was indeed very happy. The son of herbalist and part-time musician had graduated from being a musician to becoming a label owner and a record dealer. He had joined the league of legendary record owners like Emmanuel Badejo Okusanya of Ijebu Imodi and Yakubu Bolarinwa Abioro of Ipokia. 

It was as if the business partners had the Midas touch. Express Record Dealers Association with its trade name Alowonle Sounds Studio became an overnight success. There was no doubt that the partnership was going to become a success story.

Then people started hearing some strange things about the partnership. It was being rumoured that the partners were quarrelling. Anti Wura told me that  the partners began to talk to their lawyers about how the partnership agreement could be terminated. There was no Instagram at the time. There was no Twitter. Yet, Anti Wura always managed to get information about what was happening in far away Lagos. Anti Wura definitely came before her time. She would have given our contemporary bloggers a run for their money.

It was however not a rumour. By 1966, cracks had begun to appear on the walls of the partnership. Owo lo n ba oju ore je is one of Iya Agba’s favourite sayings. Money is the bane of friendship. It was said that Express Records Dealers Association was selling records and making money, but it did not appear as if the partnership was making money.

Haruna Ishola and other partners called an extraordinary emergency meeting of the partnership. The meeting had only one item as its agenda. The partners requested the Managing Director to give an account of the recordings of music made by or on behalf of the partnership. The Managing Director was given two weeks to produce the account.

Two weeks, three weeks, four weeks later, no account was produced. Another extraordinary emergency meeting of the business partners was called. Again, only one item featured prominently. Account of the recordings. It was apparent that Express Records was going to die expressly. On February 7, 1967, the partnership was dissolved.

But that was not the end of the story…

Following the dissolution of the partnership, the former partners had assumed that that was the end of the Express Record Dealers Association and Alowonle Sounds Studio. Haruna Ishola was therefore surprised one day when he came across some new albums recently produced in the name of Alowonle Sounds Studio. He bought some copies and began to make discrete investigation. He wondered who could be so courageous to be using the trade name of the defunct partnership to market the records.

Before nightfall he had found the answer he was seeking. It was Nurudeen Alowonle, the former Managing Director of Express Records. Haruna Ishola called his lawyer. He had only one question for the legal luminary. Whether a former partner of a dissolved partnership had a legal right to continue to use the trade name of the partnership. The lawyer consulted his law books on Intellectual Properties, Partnership, Trade Marks and Industrial Properties. He answered the question with a NO!

Haruna Ishola was happy. He already knew that the answer was going to be a NO. He asked his lawyer to proceed to court. He told the lawyer of the issue of account that had not been resolved. He decided to use one stone to kill two birds.

Nurudeen Alowonle received the court processes without fear. He looked at the reliefs being claimed by his former business partners. They were asking the court to compel him to give an account of all the profits that had accrued to Express Records between 1964 and 1967. They also wanted him to pay to them their own shares of the profits. That was not all. They wanted the court to compel him to also pay them their share of profits made after 1967 with the name of the partnership.

It was however their last prayer that made Alowonle to jump up. Haruna Ishola and co. asked the court for an order of injunction to restrain him from trading under the name and style of Express Record Dealers Association and from producing records under the distinguishing label of Alowonle Sounds Studio. He called his lawyer. He also had one question: Whether he could be restrained from trading using his own name, Alowonle Sounds Studio? His lawyer consulted his law books from all the Commonwealth jurisdictions. He answered the question with a NO!

Nurudeen Alowonle was happy. He already knew that the answer was going to be a NO. He asked his lawyer to join issues with the plaintiffs. When you join issues in the court of law, it means that you are disputing the claims of the other parties. It is similar to what Iya Agba meant whenever she said that she was going to wear the same pair of trousers with someone. So, Haruna Ishola and Nurudeen Alowonle joined issues.

Let’s go to court.

The case was assigned to Honourable Justice Sowemimo. By now, you must have become familiar with Justice Sowemimo and other revered Justices of the First Republic. If you don’t know His Lordship, please raise up your hand. Hint? Treasonable felony trial. Ha! You remember?
Hon. Justice Sowemimo

Justice Sowemimo listened to the parties as they called evidence in support of their cases. Haruna Ishola and his friends were shocked when Nurudeen Alowonle told the court that he was the sole registered owner of the Alowonle business name. Alowonle was not just saying it by words of mouth. He called a witness. It was not an ordinary witness. The witness he called was an official in the office of the Registrar of Business Names.

To the shock of Haruna Ishola who went to London, Germany and Sweden and who came back to Nigeria via Rome, the official produced documents in support of the claims of Alowonle. According to the representative of the Registrar, Alowonle Sound Studio was registered on June 28, 1967 and ceased to function on November 7, 1967. It was registered by Nurudeen Alowonle.

That was not all. On November 22, 1967, the name was registered by Nurudeen Alowonle, Zaid Olatunji Alowonle and Saola Abiodun Yesufu. There was no mention of Haruna Ishola Bello anywhere in the register.

The plaintiffs, Haruna Ishola and his friends called for the documents of registration. They checked the documents. They turned over the documents; perhaps their names were on the back. They could not find their names. Dejected, they returned the documents to the court registrar. There was no need for any objection. The court admitted the documents as Exhibits.

In a reserved judgment, His Lordship Sowemimo agreed with Haruna Ishola that his case was meritorious. The court ordered Nurudeen Alowonle to file a full statement of account of all his transactions when he was solely managing the partnership.

His Lordship restrained Nurudeen Alowonle from ‘placing orders as set out in Item 5 of the writ of summons.’ Effectively, Nurudeen Alowonle was prohibited from trading using his trade name.

Haruna Ishola jumped for joy. He mentally began to compose new songs to celebrate his court victory. It was likely going to start with something like this: ‘On my way to Lagos High Court…ko s’ewu rara.

Alowonle could not believe his ears. The court had agreed that the name was registered by him. He had brought a credible and formidable witness to court. On what ground did the court now restrain him from using his registered name? He asked his lawyer. His lawyer checked the law books again. They decided to go upstairs to appeal the judgment.
I hope you remember that Onigegewura had told you that only Western State had a Court of Appeal then. I hope you also remember that Onigegewura had told you that Lagos was not part of Western State. You remember? Good.

The contention of Nurudeen Alowonle when the case got to Supreme Court was that the High Court of Lagos State [Your lawyer will tell you that you can only appeal against the decision of the Court and not decision of the Judge] was wrong to restrain him from using the trade name.

At the Supreme Court, the strangest thing happened. The panel which heard the case was made up of My Lords GBA Coker [Coker Commission of Inquiry], Ian Lewis and Sir Udo Udoma [father of Senator Udo Udoma, Hon Minister of Budget and Planning]. Their Lordships read through the records of proceeding carefully. They paid particular attention to the evidence of the representative of the Registrar of Business Names. They read the partnership agreement. They then discovered something.

Could it have been a typographical error? Their Lordships wondered. They observed that there was evidence before the learned trial judge that the trade name was registered by Nurudeen Alowonle and his associates who were not the plaintiffs in 1967. My Lords then began to wonder. Since Nurudeen Alowonle could not have registered the name whilst it remained registered in favour of the partnership which was formed in 1964, was the name ever registered by the partnership? That was what My Lords discovered!

The Supreme Court asked Haruna Ishola. Was the name registered by the partnership in 1964? He shook his head. The apex Court asked Nurudeen Alowonle. He said No. The Learned Justices looked at the Learned Counsel for the parties.  The learned Counsel looked at their respective clients. I hope you understand what was happening in court. You do? Well, in case you don’t, let me explain it.

Haruna Ishola and his friends whilst trading under the name and style of Express Record Dealers Association and Alowonle Sounds Studio in 1964 did not register the name as trade names! You now understand! It was Nurudeen Alowonle who went ahead alone to first register the name in June 1967 after the partnership was dissolved in February 1967! You are shaking your head.

The Supreme Court then found that “the plaintiffs [i.e. Haruna Ishola and his friends] had registered no trade mark and as such possess no registered trade mark, the use of which by other persons they could prevent by an order of injunction…It is obvious therefore that the parties, prior to the dissolution of the 7th February, 1967 carried on the partnership illegally and could not…seek the assistance of the court, to enforce claims which had arisen by virtue of illegal exercise.”

In other words, between 1964 and 1967, Haruna Ishola, Nurudeen Alowonle, F. S. Balogun and the fourth partner had no registered trademark or trade name. Alowonle could therefore not be restrained from using a name that was not registered by the partners!

The Supreme Court therefore held that the action filed by Baba Gani Agba was incompetent. The Court set aside the judgment of the High Court of Lagos State and struck out Haruna Ishola’s case. However in the light of the relationship between Ishola and Alowonle as well as the history of the case, the Court did not award cost against any of them.

That’s however not the end of Baba Gani’s business venture. In 1969, he partnered with the legendary I. K. Dairo to set up STAR Records. It was one of Nigeria’s first indigenous record companies. Between 1979 and 1980, he established Phonodisc, a thirty-two track recording studio.

Oh! The MON? It was neither a chieftaincy title nor an abbreviation for Monday as I was informed by Lasco and Anti Wura. Of course, it was the Member of the Order of the Niger awarded to Haruna Ishola Bello in 1981 by Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Shagari, the then President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

I hope you and your partners have registered your business name. If you have not, please remember Nurudeen Alowonle and Haruna Ishola Bello. 

Onigegewura thanks you very warmly for your time. 

-Olanrewaju Onigegewura©
History Does Not Forget

The right of Olanrewaju Onigegewura© to be identified as the author of stories published on this blog has been asserted by him in accordance with the copyright laws.