Not many people know Oba Bashiru Oloruntoyin Saliu, Oba of Oworonshoki Town, Lagos. We can confirm to you that Kabiyesi is a peace loving man. He is also fashionable, jovial and kind to those who get closer to him. Many people don’t know that Oworonshoki used to be a community under Shomolu.
Lately, there have been rumours flying around Lagos that, Kabiyesi, who is the paramount ruler of Oworonshoki land asked all the land owing residents to pay the sum of 1 million naira for the land they acquired many years back.
Two weeks ago, City People’s Senior Reporter, ISAAC ABIMBADE and Photo Journalist, BABALOLA LEKAN, visited the Oba in his beautiful Palace and he opens up on the issue. Enjoy the piece!
There is a rumor around the town that you asked your customary tenants to pay for the land they acquired long time ago, how true is this Kabiesi?
Thank you very much. When I ascended the throne of my forefathers in Oworonshoki, we had a lot of visitors who came to our family land here in Oworonshoki, calling themselves ‘Omo-Onile’. They were selling land to themselves. We challenged them in the year 2000 and they said they would come to settle with Oba and his royal family, up till tomorrow they never came. What they did in year 2010 and 2011 was to gang up and group themselves into 4 families. They took my family to court, High Court of Lagos state, challenging me that they are the owners of the whole land in Oworonshoki and that, they are no longer tenants, for they have been there for 30 to 40 years. They took me to High Court, challenging my documents and when we filed our own case to the High Court, they had no way to go again. After many adjournments filling counter upon counter, the Judge with what was on his table as proof found out that we are the original settlers of Oworonshoki.
Then, he awarded judgement in our favour. That is the suit no. ID679M-2010, before Honourable Justice T. Ochukwu in 20th of March, 2011. We defeated them clearly. Their case was dismissed.
Later, Government called us for verification and fact findings, that was when all our shrines, ascestors, burial grounds and all other places of interest that have been in existence before Lagos Island came to an existence. Justice Adagun gave the judgement in our favour. He confirmed that, we Saliu royal family are the original settlers and founder of Oworonshoki. We want to confirm all these documents i have shown you. These people were alive then when we won them. After the High Court Judgement, they regrouped again and challenged me.
I can give you all the 8 court cases. If you read all cases we have won, you will see that the court asked them to pay me entitlements. So, they grouped themselves again and instituted actions against me. This case was before Honourable Justice S.A Onigbanjo, in the suit no. ID1235 -2012. In the year 2013, I also beat them. The judgement was in my favour. We kept the judgement in the archive in my palace, expecting and looking forward for them to pay homages and also pay ratification of their properties but they never turned up. Instead of turning up, they came to have meeting with me about 2 times.
They went to Court Of Appeal again with this judgement I got and I still defeated them. It was a unanimous victory. We have Judgement in my favour, that we are the original owners of Oworonshoki land and none of them should institute any sanction against me, that there mustn’t be a multiplicity of action on same subject matter. I won all of them! That is the judgement of Court Of Appeal. I appreciate the Judges in Lagos state, they are not bribe takers. They are for the poor masses and anyone that has genuine document before them will be favoured. They don’t want to see your face. They work with documents/papers before them. The 3 Judges gave me pass marks. The people I won at the court are the ones complaining now, that I asked them to pay money as if I am a beggar or I’m not comfortable on my own. I’m not hungry and i’m not suffering. We don’t have much money but we have enough food. Our fathers were hunters, just that everywhere now has been turned to farm.So, We have won all these cases and they have not paid what they (court) asked them to pay us. They were here for meetings twice, I told them I will allow them as my Customary tenants because I can’t live in the community alone. We need many people to live with us, to develop the community but you must know we are your landlord. We are your landlord by all titles, by court judgement, and by documents. We have a Judgement as far back as 1830. Herbert Macaulay was the Surveyor of my forefathers at that time. We have all the judgements at home. We have about 8 judgements. They are the same people who have come together calling themselves Akerele, Cooker and there is one called Chevron. He said, he controls all our land at Ogudu boundary. They (the supposed Omo onile) have come here for meetings and we asked them how much they got their land, one of them said he only has land in Ikorodu. I asked him how much was a plot of land there? He said 4 million naira and another man said 5 million naira. I now said if you can buy land in Ikorodu for 4 to 5 million naira and Oworonshoki is between Lagos Island and Mainland, how much would you pay us? One of them ‘formulated’ that they would pay 1 million naira for a plot and I said I agreed with them. I have the recording of that meeting with me. It was a peaceful meeting.
Are you saying they will be paying this money every year?
No, just once in their life time. Its just to compensate us and to officially be a bonafide residents, that they just did the proper thing. I’m a peace loving man. If your community is peaceful that is when Oba and his family can have good rest. When I was told that City People was asking after me, I was eating at that time.
What is your plan to let your customary tenants in Oworonshoki understand all these?
I am trying to call a general meeting that will take place soon at Oworonshoki Police Station. There most of them will know me. Those who are making noise are the same people we defeated in the court. They have no documents on our fathers land. I want to remind them that the person they sent to represent them at the meeting says whatever I tell you is the final, that he is the head. The man’s name is çalled Chevron and this man went to Police station, saying Oba is a killer! And he is one of the people who promised me they were coming back when we held meeting with them. When the Ministry of Justice saw all our documents, they went to confirm it. They went to Survey. Ministry of Justice asked them to meet with me. That they should go and make peace with Kabiyesi and ask him what he wants to collect, so that everything can be settled amicably.
These people have been enjoying what does not belong to them all these while. Even when government come to Oworonshoki to work they are the ones who collect compensation. My family members are looking at me as if I collected money from these people or I collected money from them at their back. My family members need to eat what belong to them. These so called Omo onile don’t want to come for meeting again, all they now do is carry placards, that Oba wants to kill them, I want them to leave their houses.
They are the ones who decided that they would pay this amount of money and I accepted. Even if they didn’t satisfy me with the last meeting, i would have still gone back to my family to feed them the out come. If it were to be another family it would have generated to another issue but we obey rules and regulations.
Can you share your real estate experience with us, sir?
When I was young in my mother’s town, Ijora and in some other areas that we have family, in Ajao Estate for example, my family chose me as the power of Attorney, representing the family. They have vast areas of land. There I got a bit of experience. When I sold our property at that time for 5 thousand, I was in a position to buy 10 to 15 of these properties from the family and I would resell it. Money I got there was used to build bungalow for people to live. Even before that, I have been a technician. I worked with Shell Oil. I worked at pipe and fitting section. I was a pipe fitter. And they were paying us well, my allowance alone was enough for the month. The money I got there I invested it in my company. The name of the company is B. Saliu Technical Works Nigeria Limited.