In Yoruba, especially the Oyo tradition, kings are regarded as divine, second-in-command to the gods. They are attributed with wisdom, power, and courage in peace and at war. They facilitate socio-economic development; they are bonds of unity and icons of their peoples’ hopes and aspirations. They are also human and answer to the calls of higher forces and sometimes, they fall victims of political and economic forces. In these traditional settings, kingship is rotated between the families eligible to produce the kings of the land. While it takes death to replace the ruling king, some stringent measures can also be taken, one being deposing the king. The crisis which occurred in Oyo town in which police commissioner Joseph Mbu was caught, involved the ruling king, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III and the Asipa of Oyo, Alhaji Ganiyu Ajiboye, who was installed as the Asipa of Oyo by the then outgoing administration of Governor Lam Adesina, in contradiction of the stipulated rules of the land which stated that it was only the Alaafin who could do that.
As part of the Alaafin’s unassailable rights, he installs the Asipa of Oyo town, which falls directly under his domain. But, according to sources within the government, that right was taken away from him by successive Oyo State administrations, in attempts to check the Alaafin’s supposed excesses. According to Oyo State government sources, the former governor Lam Adesina’s administration viewed as incorrect, Oyin Koleosho’s position that the Alaafin was asserting a divine and unquestionable right to be the permanent chairman of the Oyo State Council of Traditional Rulers and that his suzerainty includes a consenting authority over all chieftaincy titles in the state. The fall out of this, it was said, was the installation of Asipa by the then state government without the consent of the Alaafin. This it was said, infuriated the king to no little measure.
In 2012, there was an alleged move by the state governor to install one Alhaji Ganiyi Ajiboye as the Asipa of Oyo but was deterred by a court order by Justice F.I Oyelaran that the status quo be maintained, in which the state government had stated that it was neither interested in imposing an Asipa on the people of the town, nor did it have an intension to do such. But in 2013, the rumored installation resurfaced, prompting the Alaafin to write a petition to then state commissioner of police, Mr. Kevin, on an allegation that the state government was going to install one Alhaji Ganiyu Ajiboye as the new Asipa through the state commissioner for local government and chieftaincy matters, Alhaji Raji Rasaki in Oyo town, which he said was tantamount to a violation of a court order by a Justice F.I. Oyelaran.
The petition read in part: “I have been informed by impeccable sources that contrary to the state government’s open declaration in the court of law and in utter violation of the injunctive order of the court of law, the Oyo State Government has concluded arrangements to send the commissioner for local government and chieftaincy matters, Alhaji Raji Rasak to Oyo town (today) to install someone as Asipa of Oyo in defiance of the court order.” While the traditional tussle between the Alafin of Oyo and the traditional ruler appointed by the former governor was ongoing, the police commissioner Joseph Mbu came into town.
To further protest the affront, the Alaafin went to court to protest the installation of Ajiboye as the Asipa of Oyo. The court ruling favored him and Ajiboye was ordered to stop parading himself as the Asipa of Oyo town. According to sources Ajiboye ignored the court order and this was alleged to have annoyed the Alaafin who allegedly swore to deal with Ajiboye. No one ever pinpointed exactly where the order to invade the palace came from. Several media reports had it that the state police commissioner, Joseph Mbu, leading a gang of 250 policemen, accompanied by two armoured personnel carriers (APC) stormed the Isale Oyo area of the town and sealed off the Asipa’s palace. Although nobody was arrested during the invasion, which witnesses said lasted for several hours, some market women, children and owners of shops adjoining the palace were chased away by the security men while the personal vehicle of the head of Asipa family and Alago of Ago-Oja, Chief Ganiyu Busari Ajiboye was taken away by the invading policemen. Many people afterwards spoke out against the traumatic experience they were made to go through in the hands of Joseph Mbu’s policemen.
Some of the people spoken with said they had feared for their lives upon seeing the police; some of them were forced to close their shops for several days for fear of being shot or arrested by the police who were still sighted loitering around the premises several days after the invasion. The state government had vehemently denied ordering the action while the Alaafin’s camp denied asking the commissioner to fight its battles. Where did the order to invade come from, given the fact that there was no record of a court order empowering the commissioner of police to invade and seal off the palace? A source within the Oyo State command expressed the view that it was only the CP that could answer that question. Apparently, the CP’s action greatly put the command and the men under severe pressure as many officers involved in the operation did not know for days what their fate would be.
The source also claimed that the IGP was “very embarrassed by the CP’s action and was very furious. Nobody knew he would not be removed from the force. In fact, I think his posting to the Rivers State was a second chance for him and a way to redeem his image. Sadly, this has not happened.” In his reaction, the embattled head of Asipa family, Alhaji Ganiyu Ajiboye had slammed a N1 billion suit on the IGP for illegal and unwarranted invasion and subsequent occupation of Ashipa palace, where he and his family lived. Joined in the suit were Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Dasuki Galadanci; Oyo State Commissioner of Police; Executive Governor of Oyo State and Attorney-General of Oyo State. In the motion on notice, Ajiboye urged the court to order the defendants to pay the “sum of N500,000,000 as general damages against the respondents severally for psychological trauma and personal inconveniences including loss of the use of his vehicle and arbitrary and illegal deprivation of his personal effects arising from the infringement of the applicant’s rights.” Ajiboye also demanded a public apology for the embarrassment caused him and his family as well as immediate action to unseal the palace.
In the police reaction, the allegedly thoroughly embarrassed and furious Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar, had ordered the removal of the Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Joseph Mbu. That was only the beginning of Mbu’s journey into notoriety and impunity. On the 5th of February 2014, he was again unceremoniously removed from Rivers and deployed to Abuja. A majority of Rivers people were relieved to be rid of him. The full story appears in Andy Briggs Report, April Edition.