In spite of opposition by leading traditional rulers in Ekiti State, the governor, Kayode Fayemi, on Thursday inaugurated the Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Adebanji Alabi, as the Chairman of the state’s Council of Traditional Rulers.
Mr Alabi’s appointment is being challenged by 17 prominent traditional rulers known as ‘Alademerindinlogun’, who claimed that Mr Fayemi contravened the Ekiti State Chieftaincy Law in his appointment.
The law provides that the chairman can only be appointed among traditional rulers in the ranks of Alademerindinlogun/Pelupelu.
The chiefs, led by Ajero of Ijero, Joseph Adewole, had gone to court to challenge Mr Fayemi’s elevation of the Alawe to the status of Pelupelu in his bid to appoint him as chairman of the council.
The Alawe was appointed on August 1, following the expiration of the tenure of Oloye of Ote Oye Ekiti, Oluwole Ademolaju, on July 31.
The monarchs, in the suit with registration number HAD/76/2019, filed before an Ado Ekiti High Court, are seeking nullification of the appointment, saying the governor’s action of picking someone outside the 17 Obas as chairman was “a violation of the Ekiti State Chieftaincy Law.”
They claimed that the promotion of Alawe to Pelupelu status was political, which could not grant him the power to become the Chairman of the traditional council.
They also refused to attend Thursday’s inauguration of the new council leadership, even though it was attended by many other traditional rulers in the state.
Mr Fayemi, while speaking at the ceremony in Ado Ekiti, said time had come for the traditional rulers to bring their powers to bear on resolving the vicious insecurity across the nation.
He charged the traditional rulers to maintain security and peaceful co-existence in their domains, saying that their cooperation will help in curbing anti-social activities.
The governor was silent on the ongoing litigation during the ceremony.
“I want to charge you to cooperate with this government and be at the forefront of the fight against anti-social behaviour because what we need to promote development is peace,” said Mr Fayemi.
“I want you to be protectors of your people as custodians of culture and tradition in your domains. Despite modernity, you remain the rallying point and you will ever remain relevant.
“I want to appreciate the immediate past council for putting in their best in piloting the affairs of the council. I have no doubt that the new council will collaborate with government for more development in our state.
“You must ensure that you unite the traditional institution and eschew baseless rivalry. Don’t be used by fifth columnists that don’t understand that elections are over in Ekiti. Don’t also allow unnecessary communal clashes that could destabilise the state.
“Ekiti has been lucky since its creation and in this period of its history when I was appointed the Chairman of Governor’s forum despite that Ekiti is not the oldest state in Nigeria. Whatever we must have achieved or got in life, is an act of God, who knows the end from the beginning.”
Mr Alabi in his remarks promised to be fair to all council members, regardless of status.
He said members of the council should refrain from criticizing the government but could offer advice since the council was not a labour union.
“We can’t afford any form of antagonism and bickering as we are not in competition with the governor,” he said. “We are an advisory body in line with the law that established this council. We assure Mr Governor of our unalloyed loyalty to be able to move Ekiti forward.”