Oyo Traders Declare Y. K. Abass Persona Non Grata, Warn Government To Steer Clear Crisis

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Traders in Oyo State trooped out in their hundreds on Thursday to resist what they portrayed as illegality and excesses of Alhaji Yekini Abass whom they declared him persona non grata just as they warned him to end his illegal activities.

The statement was made by Chief Olawoyin Theophilus, Babaloja of Olorunsogo Local Government, Igbeti while addressing journalists at the Magistrate Court, Iyaganku Ibadan, where they gathered to protest the arrest of Alhaji Sunmaila Aderemi Jimoh based on allegation levelled against him by Alhaji Abass.

Chief Theophilus in his reactions described the incident as unfortunate, misuse of government instrument and a setback for Nigerian nascent democracy.

He said, “what we are witnessing in Nigeria today is terrible and a serious setback for our nascent democracy. Imagine an illegal person using government instruments to intimidate and harass us in a democratic setting.

“Yekini Abass is an illegal person, occupying fake and imaginary office, who voted for him as Babaloja-General of Oyo State? Why is he so desperate to occupy that position? Has he ever been appointed or elected as Babaloja of any local government in Oyo State? Or as Yekini ever headed any of our market association clusters? Why is government backing illegality? Why are the political office holders in Oyo State so desperate to shamelessly force Yekini Abass on over three million traders in the state?”

Babaloja Olorunsogo added that traders had done the needful by following due process in their installation of Alhaji Sunmaila Aderemi Jimoh as the Babaloja-General of Oyo State in 2021 and nothing as changed since.

 

“Traders from the 33 Local Government councils in Oyo State, including leaders from the 5 zones came together to elect and install Alhaji Sunmaila Aderemi Jimoh as their Babaloja-General at the House of Chiefs, Parliament Building, Secretariat, Agodi Ibadan on 24 of August, 2020. We introduced him to the house of assembly and the ministry of Trade and investment, just for their information and to know who to relate with on traders issues.

“Unfortunately, conspiracy brought some individuals, a food canteen operator, and 2 bad eggs among traders together and they went with Yekini Abass to the palace of late Olubadan of Ibadanland Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso 1 to be installed by the royal father as Babaloja-General. There are enough documents, including newspapers and videos on both installations.”

He added that traders associations are entities, registered with CAC, and no government or politician can dictate to them on how to select or elect their leaders.

“Trade associations are entities registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), therefore traditional institutions, government, religious groups and social clubs do not have any right to interfere with our activities. If we have unresolved issue, the appropriate authority to approach is judiciary, that’s court of law. In case of civil disturbance, the right authority to handle that are the law enforcement agencies. We already have a case in court against Yekini, he is only using his political associates in governor Makinde’s government to cause problems and prolong his day of disgrace, after all, he suffered one in 2022 when a competent court in Ibadan stopped him from parading himself as Babaloja-General of Oyo State, a verdict that has not been vacated,” Babaloja added.

Meanwhile, Chief Theophilus has rubbished the involvement of Market Leaders Council in the latest leadership saga.

“Let me clarify this, Chief (Mrs.) Odunayo Danjuma was a member of the market leaders council, but not part of their illegality. You can go and confirm that, ask them to show the attendance and resolution, then check for her signature. She is educated and not stupid, she can’t be part of illegality, those people were brought together to help government on how to enjoy better relationship with traders in the state, not to vote on behalf of over 3 million traders, especially with the composition of members in the council.

“Coming out to declare that Market Leaders Council, an agency of the government, comprised of 5 traders representative and 7 others who belong to other associations, such as food canteen operators, artisans have elected Alhaji Yekini Abass as Babaloja-General is disgraceful, ignoble and unreasonable. How could 7 individuals who haven’t any business with traders’ associations decide for over 3 million traders.

“The power to elect and install Babaloja-General and Iyaloja-General belong to the Congress of Babalojas and Iyalojas from the 33 Local Government Councils and these are the heads and representatives of all markets in each of the 33 local government councils, all clusters of traders’associations are well represented. It is after they have elected their leaders (Babaloja-General and Iyaloja-General) that they will present them to the Governor, Royal Fathers in the state, corporate organizations and government agencies (federal and state) for recognition and blessing. This we have done since 2020 and equally forwarded it to the Chairman, House Committee on Trade.

“I want to advise is Excellency, Gov. Seyi Makinde to call to order all political office holders in Oyo State, they should stop using government instruments to intimidate, harass, humiliate and disgrace peace loving traders in the state. We know our Babaloja-General and Iyaloja-General, we have not stop anybody from relating with traders but nobody can force traders to relate or submit themselves under illegal person’s authority.

“We love the governor, we work for his victory at the polls twice and we are supporting his administration, therefore governor should reciprocate our good works and thoughts towards him by defending democracy and rule of law in the state. He should not allow enemies of his achievements and administration to humiliate and torture those going about their lawful businesses,” Babaloja stated.