The intense battle over who is the authentic Babaloja General of Oyo State has taken a new dimension. Last week, the President General of Ibadan Joint Traders Association (IJTA), Alhaji Dauda Abiodun Oladepo allegedly escaped an assassination attempt on his life. Oladepo was said to have been attacked by some hoodlums at IJTA secretariat, situated at Mapo area of Ibadan, During which he sustained some injuries.
While recalling his ordeal to newsmen after leaving the hospital, Alhaji Oladepo stated that it was the grace of God that his health was quickly restored back after being macheted on the head by the assailants allegedly sent after him from the Olubadan’s palace.
“We were holding our quarterly meeting at our secretariat which normally comes up fortnightly when the secretary of the association, Kamilu Ariyo rose up and started accusing everyone, putting allegation against some members, and he pointed at me that I was the one who sued Olubadan of Ibadanland.
“I never sued Olubadan, He’s our father and Kabiyesi is very good to me, the person we sued was the person that is calling himself Babaloja of Oyo State (Alh YK Abass). We marketers know our leader, the man is not a marketer so there’s no way he can be our Babaloja.
Let him tell the world where his market is. Is he a food vendor? Grand-pepper millers cannot be the ones to install Babaloja for us, we have an association and we know ourselves, and the right to choose babaloja belongs to those who are trading in the markets and the title belongs to us. And that was the reason we went to court”.
“Kamilu Ariyo was the one that signaled to the hoodlums and he pointed me to them as they entered into the premises where we were having a meeting. They said I should be brought to the palace of Olubadan, and the thugs who were armed with guns and cutlasses descended on me with a machete. I was mercilessly beaten blue-black and they tore all my clothes. It took the intervention of some of my members before I could be rescued from them and was taken to hospital.
“The thugs took the key forcefully from one of our members and drove the bus given to the association to the palace of Olubadan, which shows that they were sent to come and kill me from the palace. I don’t know my offense to warrant being killed, and there was no Police to reported the matter to. I only brief my lawyer for appropriate actions.
“Our Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde is so dear to us, because he had been helping us in the market ever before he became the governor, by giving our children scholarships and supporting our businesses with grants, and that was why we mobilized for him and voted for him during the election. And we thank God that our prayers were answered, and he emerged as Governor, I’m sure he’s not pleased with this situation and we’re going to formally brief him.
“And on the part of Kabiyesi, he has made it so clear to us in the past that he does not have interest in anyone among traders becoming Babaloja. That was stated in a letter he wrote to me which I filled. So we know they’re trying to use Baba’s name to oppress us.
“One of Ibadan High Chief in the person of Chief Amidu Ajibade was once inciting some of my people to go to the media to say that they have removed me. Moreover, we have our guarding principle and constitution in the association. Our association was duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and no one can push us around. I have great regards and respect for Kabiyesi, Olubadan of Ibadan and we will not do anything to tarnish his name or belittle his throne.”
Reacting to Oladapo’s claims that the hoodlums who attacked him were sent from the palace, however, Assistant Director, Media and Public Affairs to Olubadan, Mr. Yanju Adegboyega said it was a big lie. He wondered why should Olubadan should be dragged into an internal affairs of an association.
Adegboyega, in a telephone chat with this reporter, stated that the attack or whatever happened at IJTA secretariat has nothing to do with the Olubadan or the palace.
“Let me state it clearly that Olubadan is not a trader; he doesn’t sell pepper neither does he have a shop in Ibadan. So why would anyone be calling his name in this kind of issue? Whatever must have happened within traders’ associations or their leadership should not involve Olubadan. Olubadan can only mediate as a traditional ruler. So it is rather unfortunate, mischievous for Alhaji Oladepo to be making such claims when Oladepo himself should be held responsible for the crisis rocking the association. In fact, some traders rushed to the palace Wednesday morning to report the president of IJTA, Alhaji Dauda Oladepo, who they alleged led some thugs to their shops and ordered attacks on them.”
It would be recalled that the popular textile merchant Alhaji Yekinni Abass, popularly known as Y.K Abass, was on Friday 28 August, 2020, installed as the new Babaloja of Oyo State by the Olubadan of Ibadanland at his Popoyemoja Palace. The decision has since being ratified by the state government.
But despite the Governor Seyi Makinde’s confirmation, the decision didn’t go down well with some leadership of traders in the state. They see Olubadan’s action as an act of imposition, as there are laid down process to how a Babaloja should emerge.
Since then the traders’ associations in the state have been devided. While some agreed to the emergence of Y.K Abass, others are with Alhaji Ismaila Adeyemi Jimoh who is also parading himself as the authentic Babaloja General of Oyo State.