Land crisis: Why our dispute with Eda Oniyo persists, by Obbo-Aiyegunle community

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The people of Obbo-Aiyegunle in Ekiti Local Government Area of Kwara State have attributed their persistent land dispute with their neighbouring community, Eda Oniyo, to the aggressive and provocative attitude of the latter’s monarch.

They said the Eleda of Eda, Oba Julius Awolola, whose community is located in Ilejemeje Local Government Area of Ekiti State, had been “the iniatiator of the crisis as always and formenting near mob action between the youths of both communities.”

Obbo-Aiyegunle community were reacting in a statement issued to refute Eda monarch’s recent allegations and claims on the disputed land.

Oba Awolola had recently alleged that youths from Obbo-Aiyegunle had vandalized their local government secretariat and attacked some of his people on their farms.

He had alleged: “People from Obbo-Aiyegunle, a Kwara community, have been farming on our land but the government of Ekiti State wants to use the land for youth empowerment and deploy equipment there preparatory to beginning work. That was what provoked them to attack us.

“They came on bikes. I was even on my farm at that time, they went to vandalize our local government secretariat and then attacked some of our people who were already on their farms. The cars parked by the roadside were vandalized; three motorbikes were set ablaze. One of the farmers was beaten and has been hospitalized.”

But a statement issued on behalf of Obbo-Aiyegunle community by the National President of Obbo-Aiyegunle Descendants Union (OADU), Arch. Enoch Ade Ogun, described the allegations and claims as untrue, saying the monarch had been the one formenting trouble between the two communities.

The OADU president said: “Obbo-Aiyegunle is full of elite and should not be portrayed as hoodlums or agitators. His Royal Majesty, Owal’obbo of Obbo-Aiyegunle, Dr Samuel Oluleye Adelodun, is a refined and retired federal Director-General. Despite the provocations from Eda Oniyo people, the Owal’obbo and his high chiefs appealed and have continued to appeal to Obbo youths not to retaliate.”

He added: “The distance between Obbo-Aiyegunle and Eda Oniyo is seven kilometers. Severally, the Eleda of Eda Oniyo will leave his domain and come to start a project at the edge of Obbo-Aiyegunle, thereby creating tension among Obbo people.

“He usually does this with the intention of grabbing the land in between the two communities, which does not belong to Eda. Anytime such projects are disallowed, he will cause his people to invade and destroy Obbo-Aiyegunle’s farmlands.”

He said it was unfortunate that Eda Oniyo people whom Obbo-Aiyegunle accommodated on their land in 1957 have turned round to lay claim to their hosts’ land.

Ogun said Kwara and Ekiti State governments had several times intervened to restore peace and later made the two communities to sign a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) to live in peace and harmony on their farms.

Narrating the genesis of the latest crisis, the OADU president said: “Obbo had resumed living in peace with Eda people after the MoU until the 9th/10th April, 2024 when a bulldozer was noticed in front of Eleda’s palace and information got to Owal’obbo that the bulldozer was meant to start clearing from Obbo’s end, which is seven kilometers away from Eda Oniyo.

“Owal’obbo sent emissaries to the kings of Ishan, Iludun and Iye communities, all in Ekiti State, to help warn the Eleda not to come near Obbo’s land. The Onishan called Eleda many times in the presence of the emissaries without Eleda answering the calls.

“On Thursday, 11th April, 2024, the bulldozer was transported by a low-bed vehicle, accompanied by two lorry loads of well armed uniformed personnel. The bulldozer started to bulldoze the cashew trees at the edge of Obbo town. This annoyed Obbo youths and the scene would have turned into a mob reaction if not for the intervention of Owal’obbo and some Obbo leaders.

“Following the same pattern as in the past during the reign of the Eleda, Eda youths invaded Obbo’s farmlands and destroyed hundreds of hectares of cashew trees, all executed at nights and on Sundays. At the time of writing this report, they are still cutting down cashew trees, destroying cassava and yam farms unabated.

“The Owal’obbo and and his high chiefs appealed and have continued to appeal to Obbo youths not to retaliate. Obbo youths have been restless because of the problem of kidnappers in one section of their land and in another part, a series of attacks on our farmlands by our brothers whom we accommodated in 1957.”