The Olukere of Ikere Ekiti, Ganiyu Obasoyin, has denied personally receiving the sum of N1 million from Governor Ayo Fayose to remove a sacred tree in the community along the Ado-Akure dualisation project within the town.
The monarch, who gave the explanation on Thursday, admitted that the N1 million was for the removal of four sacred trees in the town in respect of the road project, but said the sum did not include the Olosunta tree, which created the recent crisis.
Youth of the town had during the week prevented the contractor handling the project from pulling down the tree, known locally as Ereja, a deity claimed by its worshipers as the source of Ikere people.
They also claimed that the site now earmarked for demolition was the venue of the annual highly respected Olosunta festival.
At the height of the controversy, Mr. Fayose said he had paid N1million to the traditional ruler for the removal of the sacred trees to pave the way for the construction of the road.
The revelation also raised fresh allegations that the money was bribe from the governor to the Olukere.
However, the monarch said the money was not bribe but funds given by the state government to remove four of the five sacred trees in the area.
He said the allegation was a blackmail targeted at smearing his image in the town.
Oba Obasoyin said two of his chiefs, the Eselemo of Odo Oja, Adeyemi Fajilade and the Saya, Foluso Olowofela, collected the N1million from the Commissioner of Works, Funmilayo Ogun.
According to him, the funds were immediately deployed for the relocation of four deities with the exception of Olosunta tree.
He said the contractor handling the project had given assurances that the road could continue unimpeded without the tree being pulled down.
“Let me say categorically that I didn’t personally collect any cheque or cash from Governor Fayose, so this is a cheap blackmail,” he said.
“The agreement we had with the government was that, there were five deities that could obstruct the dualisation project and we agreed that four should be relocated.
“Ikere people didn’t want Ejibaosi relocated but I had to pacify them because we love development. I want to believe that it was the Ogoga that wanted to mislead the governor because he knew he has no role to play in the tradition of Ikere town, so he wanted these traditions obliterated.”
The monarch further explained when the appeasement and relocation of the other deities was done in January, 12 hours of curfew was declared and the governor was aware of it, noting that all the traditionalists from the three quarters performed the rituals and relocation.
“The actual amount released was N850, 000. I even added a sum of N350, 000 from my own pocket to complete the ritual,” he said.
“I am presently constructing an N18 million worth of road in the town while I have investments worth over N200 million in this town. So I can’t stand in the way of government to effect development.
“The people of Ikere Ekiti love Fayose and we are praying for his success and I want to believe that he is too intelligent to be misled by agents of destabilization in this town.”
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