On Monday, residents of Ifon village, which serves as the administrative center for Ondo State’s Ose Local Government Area, came to the streets to protest what they claimed was a state government plot to push a candidate on them to fill the empty monarch seat of the town. Following the assassination of Oba Israel Adeusi, who was shot and killed by some gunmen on the Benin-Owo Expressway in the Elegbeka region of the local government in November 2020, the throne of the Olufon of Ifon became vacant. Elderly protestors marched in the direction of the headquarters of the local government while chanting various songs of local unity to voice their displeasure with the purported plan of the government.
A community elder, Chief Akinbode Ajayi, spoke during the nonviolent protest and noted that there were seven reigning houses in the town, with the sixth house producing the last king, Oba Israel Adeusi. According to him, the state’s deputy governor, Mr. Lucky Ayedatiwa, said that the Erunogbe Ruling House, the seventh ruling house, would produce the future monarch during a meeting with important community stakeholders. He declared that with the help of the state administration, one prince from the Umougba Ruling House is already presenting himself as the new king. If this were to happen, it would be abhorrent and seriously harm the neighborhood.
Bidemi Abiodun, a community youth leader, claimed that young people in the area were very upset that a leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress and a supporter of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu had been posing as the government’s chosen candidate who would be forced upon the neighborhood as the next Olufon of Ifon.Abiodun urged the state administration “to respect the custom and tradition of Ifon town in the process leading to the selection of the next Olufon of Ifon.” In the same vein, a group operating under the aegis of Concerned Indigenes of Ifon pleaded with the state government not to meddle in the process of choosing a replacement for the vacant stool of the community.
The group’s head, Prof. Adetokunbo Adeola, declared that since the case involving the stool was still pending at the Ondo State High Court in Akure, the government needed to halt its plans until it knew the court’s ruling. He asked the administration to let the electorate select their representative. The choice and preference of the Umaugba ruling house by the Ondo State Government over the other ruling houses, who are supposed to be the next in line of succession according to the 1968 Olufon Chieftaincy declaration, is currently being contested in the Owo court of law, according to Prof. Adeola. On May 22, 2022, an interlocutory order prohibiting the Ifon Kingmakers from carrying out the state government’s instructions to choose the next Olufon of Ifon was ultimately granted.
One of the princes from the Umaugba Ruling House has been parading himself everywhere in the town as the anointed government’s candidate, being an APC loyalist, while the motion on notice was still waiting to be heard at the High Court in Owo.
Prof Adeola said that he also learned from the acclaimed government’s anointed candidate that all preparations had been made to lift the interlocutory injunction on Tuesday, 5th of July, 2022, even though certain Kingmakers had originally planned for him to be chosen as the Olufon on Thursday, 7th July, 2022, outside of Ifon town. He warned that politics should not be introduced to the process of filling the vacant stool of the Olufon of Ifon and made an appeal to the government not to interfere excessively in the customary procedure of choosing the next king of the town.