In what looked like the deposition of Mrs. Labake Lawal as the Iyaloja of Ibadanland, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji has installed Alhaja Iswat Abiola Amerigun as the new helmsman.
Lawal had been removed by the Ibadan Joint Traders Association after unanimously voting for her removal, at their congress which held at Olupoyi Compound, Ibadan.
The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, had reported how the president of the association, Alhaji Dauda Oladepo said that the removal of Lawal was based on gross misconduct and financial impropriety, “which she admitted to at a meeting of the association.’’
Oladepo said the removal of Lawal was confirmed by the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji on Nov. 28.
He alleged that Lawal levied N2,000 on each beneficiary of the N50,000 interest-free loan of the Oyo State Government given to the traders and deposited the proceeds in her personal account.
Oladepo said the proceeds, including other association funds totalling N2million, were diverted into Lawal’s personal account
“The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Women Affairs, gave our association 1,000 slots in a poverty alleviation programme but Lawal shared 200 among members diverting the remaining 800”, he said.
He said Lawal had not remitted the N7million realised from the 20th Anniversary/N100 million launching organised by the association in 2015.
The president also alleged that Lawal converted the bus given to the association and five others by the state government to her personal property.
Oladepo stated that Lawal had at a meeting of the association admitted the allegations of financial embezzlement and promised to refund the money.
He said Lawal had been contacted to submit all association’s property in her custody, including the bus but replied through her lawyer that the bus was given to her.
Oladepo said that Chief Obaranti Oyedele, the Financial Secretary was also involved in the financial impropriety.
He said that the state government had been contacted on the matter of the bus and they are still awaiting their response.
Alhaji Rauf Abdulsalam, the Baale Onisowo of Ibadanland, Alhaja Hisiwat Ameringun, the Iyaloja of Ibadan South-West Local Government and Alhaji Mufutau Aboke confirmed the removal of Lawal as Iyaloja of Ibadan.
They said the association was bigger than any member.
The traders have threatened to involve the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and other concerned authorities if Lawal failed to refund the money and the bus in her custody.
But Lawal told newsmen that she remained the Iyaloja of Ibadanland, adding that the allegations against her were mischievous and malicious.
Lawal said the only authority that could relieve her of the position was the Olubadan of Ibadanland “and I still enjoy his support.’’
She said that the monarch never assented to such claims and that she remained the Iyaloja of Ibadanland.
“There was no time I ever admitted to allegations of financial recklessness as claimed.’’
Lawal told NAN that she had been solely responsible for the finances of the association and brought it to enviable heights.
“Anytime I spend my personal money to uplift the association, they tell me it was noted and will be refunded. I solely handled the 20th anniversary programmes and expended heavily to make it a reality.
“Those of them who never contributed, helped or knew how it became a reality are now calling for the funds realised”, she said.
She said that the money collected was used to acquire land and shops for traders, when the state government chased traders from the road sides.
Lawal said that the bus in her custody was given to her and not the association, adding that she had contacted her lawyer to “sue whoever takes any useless or mischievous action against me.’’
At an elaborate ceremony which took place on Monday 8th May, 2017, at the Popoyemoja residence of the monarch, Oba Adetunji said that contrary to insinuation, there is no parallel Iyaloja in Ibadan, adding that the former occupant has ceased to be the market leader, following the installation.
He warned that “if any other person parades herself as the Iyaloja, such person would be running the risk of impersonation, which is an offence punishable under the laws of the land.”
Reacting to claim by the dethroned Iyaloja that she was still in charge, the monarch clarified that he is the prescribed and appointing authority on different categories of chiefs in Ibadanland, including Iyaloja and Babaloja.
He said that “The only person who has been conferred with the chieftaincy title of Iyaloja of Ibadan is Chief Iswat, following the recommendation of the Market Advisory Council, and she has accordingly been issued a certificate to that effect.
“This new certificate has invalidated any previous certificate issued to anyone.”
The Olubadan further refuted claim by the deposed Iyaloja that she was wrongly removed by a High Chief in Ibadanland, explaining that it was not true that one High Chief removed the old Iyaloja as she claimed in the interview. He added that no High Chief is vested with the power to remove or install and the installation rites of the new Iyaloja was done at the Olubadan-in-Council meeting.