Owu, Otaland and Chieftaincy dispute: Olowu and Olota seek peace in Ado-Odo/Ota Corridor

The prevalent inter-clan disputes between Otta and Egba indigenes over land and chieftaincy matters in the corridor of Ado-Odo/Otta Local Government would soon become a thing of the past if the present interlocutory mediation initiated by Oba Professor Saka Adelola Matemilola, Olowu of Owu, Abeokuta and Olota of Otta, Oba Professor Adeyemi Obalanlege, to resolve the issues succeed.
Towards finding a lasting solution to the age -long endemic crisis, both traditional rulers had engaged in series of interactions overtime to create a pathfinder for sustainable peaceful solutions .
Penultimate weekend, the two traditional rulers, accompanied by their surrogate Obas and Chiefs held a Village square meeting in Iju township, with Oba Iju, nonagenarian Olufemi Sodeinde on seat, to find a lasting solution to the constant breaches of peace in the domain over land and chieftaincy titles.

Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo,Egba Paramount Ruler

One of the crucial areas of conflict resolved round the persistent controversy on whether Iju Town should be called Iju Gbaalefa or Iju Otta.
This issue has remained a recurring decimal, turning the interlining city between Otta and Owode on Idiroko Road into a red flag zone.
Anecdotal narratives constantly recall that Iju Town was a war camp of the Owu militia in the Egba Allied Forces that routed the marauding Dahomey soldiers incursion into Abeokuta and environs in the 15th century.
Iju, according to the archival narratives, is a Yoruba name for “uninhabited thick forest” where Akindele Gbaalefa, the leader of the Owu militia, representing the Egba Allied Forces, settled to strategize for the prosecution of the war against the interlopers.
But in response to an SOS call by Ado-Odo to the British Authority to save the domain from Egba routing Forces , the British Evengelist in Abeokuta, Henry Townsend, was reportedly dispatched to mediate and secure peace in the corridor. Townsend’s intervention, as recorded, resulted in the delineation of Iju and several other villages outside Otta, spreading to Oke Ore, and consequently named it Gbaalefa Peninsula and ceded it to Egba as ‘spoil of war’ which has remained so since the 15th century.

Oba Prof Saka Matemilola, Olowu of Owu Kingdom and historical founder of Gbaalefa

To confirm the status and Egba ownership of the area, the current Oba of Iju is a direct great grandson of Akindele Gbaalefa.

The Otta people, however, remain in constant protest and denial of this archival records and insist Iju and all villages so named Gbaalefa Peninsula remain Otta land.
This contention has often polarised the Egba and Awori inhabitants of the zone with land speculators and politicians fuelling series of conflicts, resulting in the loss of property and life, creating tension and strife in several villages in the zone.

Olota of Ota, Prof Adeyemi Obalanlege claimant to Ota territory

Several stakeholders from both camps identified ‘greed and avarice’ as the cause of the constant breaches of peace in the corridor particularly by land speculators, money bags and politicians who engage in ‘divide and rule’ principle to dig the gold.

They argued that the inhabitants of the area since the 15th century until this contemporary period, were one people from different clans and they lived together in peace without acrimony of any type. “Why is it now when all those, who in spite of their diversity, lived together, in love and unity without discrimination and covetousness are no more, that these generation of contentious offsprings mutilating identity and history to grab other peoples’ property by force”?, they asked.

Oba (Dr.) Olufemi Ogunleye,Towulade of Akinale, Abeokuta -Certified Conflict Resolution Expert

Both Olowu and Olota pleaded with the audience which comprised of Baales from several villages, traders and their chiefs and members of Community Development Associations (CDAs) in the corridor, to remain patient and give peace a chance.
They explained that some key people in the community of both Egba and Awori, have been called into a committee to deliberate on all contending issues with a view to proffering solutions .

Olowu and Olota further assured the people that the current intervention is with the concurrent approval of Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo.