Market cleaner slumps during attack, fingers Osun monarch

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  • I only asked her to stop cleaning market, I didn’t assault her – Oba Omirin

BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO

Uba Group

Tension has been brewing in Kajola-Ijesa community of Atakunmosa West Local Government Area of Osun State, following the incessant disagreements and exchange of allegations between the traditional ruler of the community, Oba Aderibigbe Omirin and one of his subjects who cleans the community market, Rukayat Azeez.

The traditional ruler is not also in good terms with the Iyaloja of the community, Iyabo Adegboku, who accused Omirin of conniving with the Babaloja of the community, Tunde Adeniran of assaulting her in public and also injuring her.
Azeez, on Wednesday, January 4, 2023 had slumped during an attack allegedly sponsored by the monarch, because she resisted alleged extortion from the monarch.

It was gathered that Omirin had ordered Azeez to desist from sweeping the market and had accused her of causing a crisis within the market.

She was said to have been rushed to the Osun State University Teaching Hospital in Osogbo for medical attention.

Adegboku and Azeez had alleged that they were brutalized by Adeniran on the orders of the traditional ruler. It was gathered that the monarch also facilitated unlawful arrest and detention of the cleaner, who was later arraigned and remanded in a correctional facility.

According to Azeez, problems started in the market when the traditional ruler insisted that she should pay the sum of N70, 000 as charges for operating in the community market.

The cleaner, who claimed that she borrowed some money from a cooperative group to pay her dues to the monarch sometime in July, 2022, expressed shock that Omirin insisted that she should pay the annual dues for the second time last year.

She said that she resisted the pressure by the Babaloja to pay the annual dues for the second time as demanded by the king because it would amount to cheating for her.

As a result of this, she said that the Babaloja beat her up and tore her clothes at the market place.

Azeez said, “I have been working as a cleaner at the Kajola-Ijesha market for about 10 years now without any problem. But since the ascension of Omirin in our community, we have not had peace at the market. I clean the market with the support of other cleaners. Traders do give me between N10 and N20 just to encourage me. I have never forced anyone to pay me. The Omirin asked me to pay the sum of N70, 000 every year.

“This has been my headache because I don’t have it. How much am I realizing? But in order to avoid trouble, I got a loan to pay the money and God has been assisting me. I paid him (Omirin) the sum of N70, 000 for this year with the loan that I collected from the Akunamatata lending group.

“I paid the money on July 20, 2022, but late last year, he sent two Chiefs, Baba Bidemi and Baba Titi, to get money from me. I told them I didn’t have money and that I had to get a loan to pay him for this year. I said that I couldn’t pay the money twice a year. I learnt that the monarch is trying to erect the fence of his palace that collapsed and this is why he has been disturbing me for money.

“On October 18, 2022, Tunde Adeniran came to where I was sweeping and dragged the broom with me. He beat me and tore my clothes. It was Baba Ilori and some other men that rescued me. Before I got to the Kajola Police Station with my torn clothes, he was already there. I later went to the hospital to treat myself because I hit my chest on the ground.

“While I was receiving treatment at the hospital, the police came to arrest me from the Ayeso Police Station, Ilesa. They put me in their custody and released me two days after due to the intervention of human rights activist, Citizen Lola Wey.

“This is not the first time that the Omirin would be extorting me. Five years ago, he collected N700, 000 daily contributions from one Iya Gbojunola, wife of the secretary at the palace. Out of N700, 000, mine is N150, 000.”

Narrating her own ordeal, Adegboku accused Babaloja of assaulting her around 8am on October 20, 2022 right in front of the public.

She said that she sustained injuries on her hand in the process leading to her being hospitalized at the Kajola-Ijesa Health Centre.

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Adegboku stated that, “Omirin subjected me to suffering. We have not been selling well at the market because of the incessant police arrest and court cases. He appointed a new Iyaloja and I kicked against it so he got me arrested by the police.

“Last year, some yams were stolen in the market and it was reported to me. While I was trying to sort the matter, the Babaloja came and started accusing me of disrespecting the Omirin. He slapped me and held onto my clothes. I have not been feeling fine since then after being treated at the health centre. We need peace in Kajola-Ijesa and we want the stakeholders to intervene.”

Meanwhile, the Omirin was said to have petitioned the police, accusing the market cleaner of threatening him. The monarch claimed that Azeez had sworn that he (Omirin) would not live to see the month of November, 2022.

The Point learnt that it was in response to the petition that a team of security operatives from the Ayeso Police Station stormed the hospital where Rukayat was receiving treatment and arrested her. She was later released to her daughter after the intervention by Wey.

When contacted on the telephone for reaction, the traditional ruler denied all the allegations by the two women, insisting that Azeez must desist from cleaning the market.

Oba Omirin said he didn’t send anybody to attack Azeez while she was cleaning the market, explaining that the woman got into a fight with one of his traditional chiefs on the day she reportedly slumped.

He described the duo as liars who had been fomenting troubles in the land. He accused Azeez of being in the habit of stealing people’s goat and fowl, citing it as one of the reasons why he ordered her to stop cleaning the market.

When asked to react to the alleged attacks on Azeez and why he asked her to stop sanitizing the market, Omirin said, “I didn’t send anybody to beat anybody. I stopped her from cleaning the market because she (Azeez) committed a lot of offences with records. One day, she stole somebody’s goat, tied the goat in the market with the hope of selling it. The owner of the goat saw it in the market, removed it and brought it to Babaloja’s house. They sent for the woman, she came and she was asked if she owns the goat, she said yes. They asked her for the name of the goat and she didn’t know. They said if they release the goat, would it follow her, she said yes. Then, the goat was released and it didn’t follow her but followed the owner. I can’t remember the year it happened.

“Another time again, the woman and one Gabriel Niyi, stole a fowl. One time again, she used my name to buy palm oil at the market.”

On alleged extortion, he denied demanding the sum of N70, 000, saying, “How much is she making from the market that I would ask her to pay N70, 000? Is that logical? She claims to be collecting N20 from people after sweeping, so, how much would that be for her to be paying N70, 000.”

Commenting further on the recent attack where Azeez lost consciousness, the monarch said, “There was a fight in the market with one of my chiefs. She would be sweeping in the midnight and disturbing people who are passing. She should stop cleaning the market because she is using it to cause a crisis. She is from Ede and there are about three markets there, she can go there and sweep.”

Speaking in the same vein during an interview with The Point, Babaloja denied the allegation that he assaulted the women, saying that they were notorious liars and troublemakers in the community.

Adeniran said, “I didn’t touch any of them. The day Rukayat abused me, I didn’t even touch her. She denied at the police station that she abused me and that it was another person that she was referring to. She used to curse me and the Omirin each time she saw our children.

“She told the police that I beat her up and tore her clothes. If you ask other residents, they will confirm to you that she is a troublemaker.

She misbehaved with the Kabiyesi (the Omirin). She bought palm oil at the marketplace using Kabiyesi’s name. That was why the Kabiyesi banned her from the palace.”

Rukayat, in an interview, denied the allegation of stealing people’s items, saying that she never used the king’s name to get palm oil; rather, Omirin would always send his son to collect palm oil from sellers in the market without paying.