Soun Wades into Disputed Baptist Seminary, Bowen Teaching Hospital Land

The Soun of Ogbomosoland, Oba Ghandi Afolabi Olaoye, has waded into the disputed Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary and the Bowen University Teaching Hospital (BUTH) in Ogbomosoland with the assurance that the matter will be resolved out of court.

The ancestors of the Osupa Chieftaincy family, who originally owned the land, had released it to the Baptist Convention on leasehold for 100 years.

Descendants of the family have, however, instituted a court case on the matter.

But Oba Olaoye while receiving the President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC), Rev’d Dr. Israel Adelani Akanji on a courtesy visit, assured that the matter would soon be resolved.

It would be recalled that the Ogbomoso Baptist Conference led by its president, Rev’d Dr Thomas Niyi-Ojo, had last week paid a similar visit to the monarch during which an appeal was made for his intervention in the legal tussle between the Baptist mission and the Osupa chieftaincy family, who lays claim to the land.

The Soun had at the parley assured that he would sustain the stance of his immediate predecessor, Oba Jimoh Olandunni Ajagungbade Oyewumi, III, on the matter.

The late Oba Oyewumi had converted the leasehold under which the land was given to the Baptist missionaries for 100 years to freehold ownership, during his reign, a development which did not go down well with the Osupa chieftaincy family.

The stance of Oba Olaoye to abide by his predecessor’s decision on the matter was, however, hailed widely by Baptist members, eliciting the thank-you visit by the denomination’s leadership in Nigeria.

Rev Akanji, during the visit praised late Oba Oyewumi and the people of Ogbomoso generally for the gesture over the aforementioned land as well as other lands other Baptist institutions are sited, and for their contribution and “pioneering” effort in taking the gospel of Jesus Christ across the world.

He acknowledged the mutual relationship that borders on development between the two and expressed the wish that this would continue, consequently soliciting Soun to initiate an out-of-court resolution of the matter.

“Kabiyesi, we have seen you hit the ground running since your ascensionto the throne and one of your recent actions that gladdens our hearts is your declaration that you will stand by the decision of your predecessor, late Oba Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III in transferring absolute ownership of the land presently occupied by the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary (NBTS) and the Bowen University Teaching Hospital (BUTH) to the Nigerian Baptist Convention. Your declaration was in response to the ownership claim of the land housing these two institutions by the Osupa Chieftaincy Family.

“We would like to state for the records that the parcels of land transferred absolutely to the Nigerian Baptist Convention by the late Soun and the entire people of Ogbomosoland was not limited to the two mentioned above but also included the properties housing the Nigerian Baptist Convention Health Services Centre (also known as Lepers’ Colony), the Ruth Kersey Children Home/George Green Baptist College and the Ogbomoso Baptist Conference Centre (a.k.a. Beulah).

“The benevolent act of the late Soun and of the good people of Ogbomosoland, after the expiration of the initial 99 years leasehold on the aforementioned properties, was done in recognition of the over 100 years mutual and beneficial relationship between the people of Ogbomosoland and the Baptist denomination which had brought great developments to Ogbomosoland and the entire nation as a result of the various missionary efforts of the Baptists. One evidence of this is how all of West Africa has been evangelized by Ogbomoso people and other Baptist communities, which were greatly influenced by Ogbomoso Baptists, resulting in the presence of the Baptist denomination in every country. The benefit of the relationship between Ogbomosoland and the Nigerian Baptist Convention has reached the ends of the world, and Sir, this is the truth.

“It is our desire to continue the long-standing good relationship the denomination has had with the wonderful people of Ogbomosoland and to continue to contribute to the spiritual, physical, social and economic benefits and advancement of Ogbomosoland through our various mission efforts and collaborations

“To this end, we would like to humbly appeal to the Kabiyesi, as the father of all, to go a step further by intervening and mediating in the current legal/court contention of the land where the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary (NBTS) and the Bowen University Teaching Hospital (BUTH) are located with the Nigerian Baptist Convention by the Osupa Chieftaincy Family.”

The Soun, while responding, reiterated his readiness to stand by his predecessor’s position, adding he would work to ensure it’s settled out of court.

He acknowledged and accorded recognition of the contributions of both the Baptist mission and the Osupa chieftaincy family in the development of Ogbomoso in the health, education, and economic sectors especially.

The monarch also expressed gratitude to the NBC for allowing him to use its Baptist Beulah Center facilities for his coronation Thanksgiving without taking a dime, assuring that he would continue to support the denomination.

He noted that the ancestors of the Osupa ruling house enacted a legacy that is eternal, opining that if the ancestors of the family had taken money for the large expanses of land the money would have long been spent off.

The Oba asserted that their foresight is commendable, worthy of emulation, and something their descendants should be proud of.

Informing he had had a discussion with the head of the Osupa chieftaincy family on the issue, Oba Olaoye assured it would be resolved amicably with the whole family.

“I thank you for allowing us to use the Baptist facilities during the coronation basically free of charge.

“But let me tell you, the Soun throne is continuous, and like I said, nothing changes my words, I am still standing on the decision of the previous Soun, Oba Jimoh Oladunni. I have met with the family head, and we shall find a way to settle the case out of court.

“The progenitors of the Osupa ruling house would have been happy wherever they are now for the decision they took that time to give out the land to the Baptist and how the decision has contributed immensely to the economy of Ogbomoso land.

“If their forefathers had sold the land, they would have exhausted the money since, but they decided to lease it to the Baptist and when the last Soun gave it out finally to the Baptist, it means he had seen the impact of the Baptists and as the new Soun, I will do everything to support you. The Baptists have helped Ogbomoso so much in terms of education and health, to mention but few. You can count on me. You have 100 percent of my support”, he said.