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May 23, 2024
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We’ve tendered enough evidence to FG to prove our ownership of Irokun in Ilaje —Ondo govt

….Tasks National Boundary Commission to release its Report on boundary dispute.

The Ondo State Government has declared that it has tendered enough evidence to the Federal Government through the National Boundary Commission, NBC, to prove beyond reasonable doubt that disputed communities including Irokun, Obinehin, Idigbengben and Araromi seaside belong to Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State.

The Ondo State government therefore debunked a recent claim by the Ogun state government that the area belong to it, describing the alleged attack on the citizens of Irokun by the people of Ilaje local government area as unfounded.

During a press conference in Akure, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mrs Bamidele Ademola-Olateju flanked by the Commissioner for Local government and chieftaincy affairs, Alhaji Amidu Takuro, pointed out that there were many archival documents available to establish that the listed communities belong to Ondo State and not Ogun state.

Olateju also emphasized that her state from time immemorial has been installing the traditional ruler of the communities without any challenge of any sort.

She, therefore, urged National Boundary Commission(NBC)  to make good its promise to release its findings on the matter to rest the dispute once and for all.

“This allegation is patently false and has become a pattern of alarming propaganda by the Ogun State Government as a strategy to reinforce their false territorial claim on Irokun, Obinehin, Idigbengben and Araromi seaside.

“The Ondo State Government is ever conscious of and irrevocably committed to the fundamental duty of protecting the lives and properties of its citizens. The admonition of the Deputy Governor of Ogun State urging the Ondo State Government to call her citizens to order on allegations that they were attacking their counterparts from Ogun State and linking same to the administrative actions of the Ondo State Government is deceptive.

“The appointment of Obas in these communities have been done by Ondo state in accordance with the customary law, and the extent Chiefs Law of the State. In particular, the recent appointment of Princess Adeyinka Abejoye-Ogunyemi as the Regent of Olurokun of Irokun following the demise of her father, the immediate past Oba Olowoniyi Abejoye, the 16th Olurokun of Irokun was approved by the Ondo State Government.

“Thus, the declaration of the legitimate exercise of power by the Ondo State Government over this area which was conferred on it by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as illegal by the Deputy Governor of Ogun State is not only untenable but an open invitation to lawlessness by miscreants who might be inclined to enforce the wish of the Ogun State Government in defence of this baseless and unfounded declaration.

“The Irokun people themselves in their Press statement reiterated that:
“On the claim of Olurokun being a member of the Ijebu Traditional Council, records in both Ondo and Ogun States show that as far back as 1920, the District Officer Ijebu-Ode in his letter N0.71/1920 of 9th July 1920, to his Ondo Division counterpart had confirmed that “neither Irokun nor the village of Obi was in Ijebu country.

“After the enactment of the Native Authorities Ordinance of 1924 and the groupings of traditional rulers, Olurokun of Irokun Oba Joga Adejipe in his letter through the Maporure of Ihapen Agerige dated 8th October 1937 to the District Officer on Tour Mahin traced his ancestry to Ilaje requesting that his kingdom remained part of the Mahin (Ilaje) District.

“This archival document is available with the National Boundary Commission, both states and our palaces. The National Boundary Commission, perhaps exasperated by contradictory claims held a meeting with the deputy governors and officials of both Ondo and Ogun States in Abeokuta on February 21st, 2016 wherein it was agreed, among others, “that the Commission shall carry out an elaborate ethnographic study of the boundary” to determine the dispute which was done for over two years resulting in the outright rejection of the obvious expansionist claims of Ogun State.

Corroborating Mrs. Ademola-Olateju, the state Commissioner for Local Government And Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Amidu Takuro, revealed that the only public primary school in the community was built by Ilaje Local Government authority of Ondo State.

He said: “There are empirical and documented evidence that the communities in question belong to Ondo State. The only public primary school in the community was built by our local government, Ilaje Local Government.

“We also installed the traditional ruler in the community without any dispute. For Ogun State to be wooing some natives to come and be a parallel traditional ruler in the community is an aberration.

“It’s ironical that those they approached for this clandenstine move were people from our state,” Takuro said.

Below is the full text of the Press Conference as read by the Ondo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation;

RE: ALLEGED ATTACK OF OGUN STATE CITIZENS AT IROKUN, ILAJE LGA BY THE GOVERNMENT OF ONDO STATE

On November 3rd, 2023, the Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Her Excellency, Mrs Noimot SalekoAyodele alleged that the Government of Ondo State attacked Ogun state citizens in Irokun. This allegation is patently false and has become a pattern of alarming propaganda by the Ogun State Government as a strategy to reinforce their false territorial claim on Irokun, Obinehin, Idigbengben and Araromi seaside.

The Ondo State Government is ever conscious of and irrevocably committed to the fundamental duty of protecting the lives and properties of its citizens. The admonition of the Deputy Governor of Ogun State urging the Ondo State Government to call her citizens to order on allegations that they were attacking their counterparts from Ogun State and linking same to the administrative actions of the Ondo State Government is deceptive.

While the government of Ondo State is irrevocably committed to securing the lives and properties of its residents, we also note with high sense of responsibility that Ondo and Ogun state are sister states of the same Yoruba ethnic stock. For the most part, we have been under common political structures since the creation of the Western Region.

What is now regarded as territorial disputes predated the creation of both states and have always been managed with the highest sense of responsibility by both states. Ondo and Ogun States share common boundaries in several parts but contrary to the allegations of the Ogun State Deputy Governor, the upsurge of conflicts in the coastal areas is traceable to the activities of officials of the Ogun State Government in areas which are under the undisputed administrative territories of Ondo State.

For the avoidance of doubt, communities such as Irokun, Obineyin, Araromi, etc which featured prominently in the Press Conference by the Deputy Governor are not in dispute between Ondo and Ogun States. These towns are legally and administratively within Ondo State territory and the towns have formidable presence of the state government which attest to the administrative control of the state over these areas.

The appointment of Obas in these communities have been done by Ondo state in accordance with the customary law, and the extent Chiefs Law of the State. In particular, the recent appointment of Princess Adeyinka Abejoye-Ogunyemi as the Regent of Olurokun of Irokun following the demise of her father, the immediate past Oba Olowoniyi Abejoye, the 16th Olurokun of Irokun was approved by the Ondo State Government.

Thus, the declaration of the legitimate exercise of power by the Ondo State Government over this area which was conferred on it by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as illegal by the Deputy Governor of Ogun State is not only untenable but an open invitation to lawlessness by miscreants who might be inclined to enforce the wish of the Ogun State Government in defence of this baseless and unfounded declaration.

The Irokun people themselves in their Press statement reiterated that:
“On the claim of Olurokun being a member of the Ijebu Traditional Council, records in both Ondo and Ogun States show that as far back as 1920, the District Officer Ijebu-Ode in his letter N0.71/1920 of 9th July 1920, to his Ondo Division counterpart had confirmed that “neither Irokun nor the village of Obi was in Ijebu country.

After the enactment of the Native Authorities Ordinance of 1924 and the groupings of traditional rulers, Olurokun of Irokun Oba Joga Adejipe in his letter through the Maporure of Ihapen Agerige dated 8th October 1937 to the District Officer on Tour Mahin traced his ancestry to Ilaje requesting that his kingdom remained part of the Mahin (Ilaje) District.

This archival document is available with the National Boundary Commission, both states and our palaces. The National Boundary Commission, perhaps exasperated by contradictory claims held a meeting with the deputy governors and officials of both Ondo and Ogun States in Abeokuta on February 21st, 2016 wherein it was agreed, among others, “that the Commission shall carry out an elaborate ethnographic study of the boundary” to determine the dispute which was done for over two years resulting in the outright rejection of the obvious expansionist claims of Ogun State.

The Irokun town declared that no matter the pressure from Ogun State, it would maintain” the status quo that Irokun kingdom is an integral part of Ilaje and Ondo State.”

We regard the declaration by the Deputy Governor of Ogun State that “on no account will Ogun State Government cede an inch of this land to Ondo State” as comedic. We are committed to the development of these areas, and we state categorically that Ondo State is contented with its territorial boundaries within the Nigerian Federation.

This includes its vast coastline, which is the longest among the littoral states, the boundary of which is historically shared with Lagos state in the west. The people of Ondo state know this and are at peace with the resolve of the state government to protect it. On no account will any part of it be ceded without justification.

Although, the government of Ondo State has received reports of some unilateral mappings by the Ogun State Government in areas some of which both states have agreed with the National Boundary Commission at a meeting in Abeokuta on the 21st of February 2016, “we will allow the Commission to carry out an elaborate ethnographic study of the boundaries” to determine the dispute and the real owner of the land.

While we await and urge the Commission to earnestly release the final report of the ethnographic survey, the Ondo State government wishes to assure all inhabitants of Ilaje Local Government and the state at large of its continued exercise of legitimate authority over its territory in accordance with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and in the interest of the security and well being of all persons in the disputed areas.

Signed:
Bamidele Ademola-Olateju,
Ondo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation.
10th November, 2023.

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