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How Oluwo of Iwo was jailed in the US By Tunde Odesola

Nestling aboard an incoming Delta Airline flight from Atlanta, Georgia on May 10, 2024, the window-seat view of the landscape and skyscape of Ikeja cityscape was gloomy. The giant American bird called Boeing glided through the clouds before swooping down intently like a hawk in hunt. There were no trees, no greenery in sight from my skyview as Lagos spread out like a ghetto cast in concrete, iron, rubble and filth.
“Where are all the trees the Babatunde Fashola administration planted,” I asked myself. I answered myself, “Felled by the Godfather and his mafia who were happy to throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Like the Champions League is to Real Madrid, Lagos has become a political trophy belonging to the MD – Master Dribbler – who has dribbled his way to the Centre, and Nigeria now lies unconsciously at his feet.

The plane touched down around 10 a.m. Welcome to Nigeria! After about eight years, it felt good to be back home. A national anthem war would soon rage between ‘nationalists’ and ‘colonialists’, amid chants of ‘Arise, O Compatriots’ and shouts of ‘Nigeria, we hail thee’. The national anthem war was avoidable if leadership had a meaning in Nigeria. But leisurely, Captain Bourdillon draws hard on his cigar, steering the wheel of the sinking Nigerian ship back into slavery waters. The controversial descriptions of Nigeria as Fatherland and Motherland in the two national anthems show that Nigeria urgently needs a DNA test to confirm its legitimacy.

As passengers disgorged from the belly of the bird, I caught a whiff of the perennial Nigerian virus when a dirty-looking lady in mufti, whose wrinkled skin betrays bleaching cream overuse, held a ‘gentleman’ in suit by the hand, and led him from the back of the queue towards the front. Ironically, the queue was fast-moving.

I raised my voice in protest. “Una no even allow the plane land before una begin una madness! You, yeye man, you fit jump queue for US? You, (pointing at the ‘immigration’ woman), take that man back to the end of the queue from where you took him!”

I heard the yeye man tell the clutchy lady, ‘I told you it’s wrong, I don’t like causing a scene’ but the woman held his hand and led him on, all the same, prompting me to raise my voice louder, cussing and embarrassing them both.

An old man at my back in the queue said, “Young man, when last did you come to Nigeria?” I told him I didn’t understand his question. He continued, “Nigeria is not America. That’s the way we are here o.” I told him, “Every society needs eternal vigilance to oil the wheels of justice and fairness.” He shrugged, “Well, I agree.”

In no time, I was done with immigration and I landed at the carousel for my luggage. My luggage didn’t arrive on the plane: come tomorrow. Ok. No wahala. Tomorrow is a stone’s throw.

I hopped into a taxi. Portable omo Olalomi hopped in with me. The car stereo blared: “Ara adugbo (Zeh) /Tuntun ti de o (Zeh) /Zazoo (Zeh) /O po leti (Zeh) /O ye ke ti ma gbo (Zeh)... /Baddo sneh (Zeh) /Pepper sneh (Zeh) /Many many were wa n le (Zeh) /Ahh, repete (Zeh) /Unruly (Zeh) /Baddo Lee (Zeh) /Hacker (Zeh) /Ika (Zeh) /Te s’oju e (Zeh)... /Eje loju bi t’Abacha (Zeh) /Run’ju pa (Zeh) /Le’ju pa (Zeh) /Ma rerin (Zeh) /Kala (Zeh) /Daju (Zeh) /Hu wa ika (Zeh)... If you don’t understand these Yoruba lyrics, just imagine Adolf Hiler, ogres, members of Nigeria’s political class, together with Satan and his angels in a dark hall – you'll understand the level of mercilessness Portable portrays in Zazoo.

‘Zazoo’ is the story of Nigeria’s degeneration. Though it has a multiplicity of meanings, a central theme of the song includes the glorification of internet fraud expressed in ‘Hacker’, ‘Kolu to n bo kaadi o’. It also praises extreme wickedness in the referenced stanza. Most of the song is street nonsense.

I smiled wryly. The taxi driver didn’t know why. He asked, “You too like Portable, sir?” I kept the plastic smile on and fetched my phone from my pocket. WhatsApp was my first port of call. I scrolled. A senior colleague had sent me news links. They were about the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi. 

The senior colleague wrote, “See what you caused.” I skimmed through the texts and thought he was talking about the Oluwo’s aso òkè, which was similar to the one I wore during my father’s burial on Friday, May 17, 2024, in Lagos. I replied, “I’m not royal, I’m a hunter,” asking if he was talking about the aso òkè. My relentless senior highlighted to me the links to a story on the Oluwo done by two British tabloids, The Sun, and The Mail on Sunday.

Both British newspapers called the Oluwo a thief, a misfit, 419 king, Yahoo kingpin, 'Kolu to n bo kaadi' and jailbird.

Metaphorically, the reports of the newspapers intone that lacking royalty, honesty, loyalty, pedigree and bíbí ire – a Yoruba word for honour – the life of Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi and his emergence as the Oluwo of Iwo was a plot in the drama of the absurd, where a felon grabbed a crown to desecrate a town.

Specifically, on its May 19, 2024 cover, The Mail on Sunday splashed the picture of Akanbi in a close-up handshake with the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry. The handshake, however, went beyond the elbow when the newspaper befouled the picture with the headline, “Royal Exclusive: Harry and conman Nigerian king twice deported from US.”

The description of the Oluwo as a criminal is the view and product of investigation of the British media, not mine. In a three-part series, ‘Oluwo and the glorification of ignorance’, Tunde the son of Odesola, expressed his views about Oluwo Akanbi in 2022 when he described the conman as a con-king transmuting into a king-kong.

In its publication on May 19, 2024, THE SUN was extensively brutal. The headline of the paper's story reads, “Dodgy Royal: Nigerian King who Harry called his ‘in-law’ is ‘CONMAN jailed and deported after trying to cash stolen £247k cheque’, with the rider, ‘The ‘Funky King’ (Oluwo) was jailed 15 months in 1998”.

Reporting the three-day visit of the 39-year-old Harry and his 42-year-old wife, Meghan, to Nigeria, THE SUN reveals Akanbi had been deported twice from the US and banned twice for life from entering the US.

THE SUN story reads, “But the Nigerian royal (Oluwo) is a convicted fraudster who was twice kicked out of America. He was allegedly first arrested in Boston in 1998 after he tried to cash a stolen cheque for £247,000 from aviation company Boeing.

“Akanbi posed as a successful businessman called Joseph Pigott but cops were alerted by a suspicious bank teller at BankBoston. The conman (Oluwo) was also charged for forging a cheque for £59,000 using the name Thomas Eyring. He was also reportedly jailed for 15 months and deported to Nigeria in April 1999.

“His £1,500 fine was waived ‘because of an inability to pay’. Despite being banned from re-entering the US, he was then said to have been caught attempting to cross the border in March 2011. Akanbi was with his then-wife Rakiya Saidu and young son and claimed they were going to New York to shop. 

“Facing the prospect of a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a £197,000 fine, Akanbi pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to time served, deported and banned from the US for life a second time.”

If Akanbi had been jailed for 20 years, Iwo would never have witnessed these years of the locust nor would this big calabash of shame hang on the community’s neck. Iwo would’ve remained famous for the honour earned by former Oluwos, including Oba Parin, Oba Lamuye, Oba Samuel Abimbola, and Oba Olatunbosun Tadase among others. The sacred name of Iwo wouldn’t have been stained with dishonour.

If you’re close to Iwo, you could’ve heard their sons and daughters eulogise the impregnable security of the land, saying “Iwo ti o ni ilekun, ti o ni kokoro; eru wewe ni iran baba won fi n de ile.”

O ye descendants of Iwo, is it a mistake that your forebears left the city gateless and keyless? O ye children of Iwo, is it not too late now that a virus has crept onto the throne? Where were the ‘eru wewe’ small slaves sentineled at the gate when Akanbi crept into town? Sé wón gbà’bòdè ni? Did they sabotage?

Then-Governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, stood up for integrity when he kicked out the Deji of Akure, Oba Oluwadare Adepoju, from the palace in 2010, for beating his wife, Olori Bolanle.

From Ife to Oyo, Lagos, Ijebu, Abeokuta, Ede, Owo, Benin, Warri, Sokoto, Kano, Bauchi, Gwandu etc, monarchs had been dethroned. Sadly, none of the deposed kings in Nigeria’s history parades the kind of criminal credentials as the Oluwo. Governor Adeleke, ICPC, EFCC, National Council of Traditional Rulers, Yoruba  Council of Obas, Iwo kingmakers, Iwo people, over to you. Oluwo must go!

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com
Facebook: @Tunde Odesola
X: @Tunde_Odesola

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