Four gunmen who operated in a black Toyota Sienna on Monday caused a commotion at the palace of the Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Saliu Adetunji, when they opened fire during the installation of four baales by the Olubadan at the palace.
The PUNCH correspondent in Ibadan, Olufemi Atoyebi; his ThisDay counterpart, Demola Babalola; a correspondent with Daily Trust, Jeremiah Oke; and a chieftain of the Labour Party, Sharafadeen Alli, who was a former Secretary to the Oyo State Government, were among the people who escaped death while the shooting
The four gunmen stormed the palace around 11.45am as the installation was going on in the inner chambers of the palace, with dozens of people outside the palace caught in the confusion caused by the gunmen.
The hoodlums stationed themselves strategically in the front of the palace, shot repeatedly and dared those inside the palace to come out and engage them.
The journalists, who were just arriving at the gate of the palace, were caught in the fire, but they escaped being shot as they ducked for cover in the drainage outlet in front of the palace.
Many other people also jumped into the drainage outlet to escape being shot.
The gunmen operated for about 10 minutes after which they sped off towards the Molete end of Popoyemoja area.
The journalists came out of the drainage drenched in the dirty, murky water of the outlet.
Alli, who is the Asaju Balogun Olubadan of Ibadan land, was in his Toyota jeep and was also arriving at the venue when a bullet hit his car’s windscreen, missing the chief’s head by a few inches.
The windscreeens of other cars parked in front of the palace were also shattered.
The shooting, however, did not stop the coronation inside the palace
A former governor of Oyo State and the Osi Olubadan of Ibadan land, Chief Rashidi Ladoja, was at the palace with the Olubadan alongside those being conferred with chieftaincy titles when the shooting happened.
Ladoja is the only member of the Olubadan-in-Council who did not accept the promotion to an Oba’s status after the state Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, elevated the high chiefs and some baales in Ibadan as recommended by a chieftaincy review commission set up by the governor.
Ladoja, who recently rejoined the Peoples Democratic Party after the caretaker chairman of the party, Ahmed Makarfi, visited him and others in Ibadan as part of the reconciliatory move to reshape the party, told journalists that it would be better for anyone who had misgivings about the installation of the new baales by the Olubadan to approach the court instead of resorting to violence.
He said, “Anyone who is aggrieved about what the Olubadan is doing at his palace should approach the court instead of using violence. Sending gunmen to the palace to scare people is not the right thing to do. They want to scare people away from the palace because they know that the people are on the side of the Olubadan. The Olubadan-in-Council is an advisory body to the king. He has the right to install mogajisand baales.”
Meanwhile, Ajimobi has condemned the attack, describing it as an act of brigandage.
The governor, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Yomi Layinka, said his attention had been drawn to the alleged act of brigandage during a ceremony at the palace of the Olubadan.
“The governor condemns the said act in its entirety and has directed security agencies to ensure that the masterminds are swiftly arrested, interrogated and brought to justice.
“The governor has vowed not to brook anyone or group of people desirous of bringing back the regime of violence and brigandage to the state.
“He wishes to reiterate his commitment to the security and protection of lives and property of all citizens of Oyo State, which he has laboured hard to restore and maintain in the last six years,” Ajimobi said.