Ogboni King In Police Can

A Yoruba traditional worshipper, who identified himself as an “Ogboni King”, has become the butt of jokes — no thanks to a trending video, showing he may have lied over his role, and that of his group, in the Yoruba nation rally of July 3, in Lagos.

The rally and the Lagos Police Command’s bid to foil it, citing grim security reports and decreeing it wouldn’t allow any protest on account of those reports, are too fresh to bear recounting.  Long and short: the rally held, though not in the grand form it was conceived; and the Ogboni King took part in it — and got nabbed.

The man, who later introduced himself as “Kabiyesi Tajudeen Olanrewaju Bakare, of renowned Ogboni Abalaye, known and called all over the world as ‘Ajamajebi‘ ” — Yoruba for who fights but is without blame, for he is always on his right — negated the very ethos he claimed.

A video showed “Kabiyesi Bakare”, in snow-white Ogboni regalia with matching black crown, bragging that whatever they did they would get away with.  If MKO Abiola, he recalled, could shed his blood for Nigeria and Jesus the Christ could die for humanity to be saved, nothing stopped him, and his gathered conclave, from dying for Nigeria.

But he quickly walked that back — quoting a famous Biblical phrase and its Koranic equivalent in Arabic — and pronounced no one would die.  Nevertheless, they would get their Oduduwa Republic — and that was final! Even at that, it all sounded so quaint, and so near-admirable, getting his message across, in the most benign of brags.

But the crunch came, after the police arrest.  A spiritual king had become a mere detainee.  His sacred costumes, the Ogboni crown, gown and maybe assorted charms, had become near-profane exhibits!  Even then, it’s unclear what the police would charge him for — bearing charms appears no known crime, before our laws.

Yet, the man cracked and recanted.  At the police parade — which not a few continue to insist is illegal and Femi Falana, SAN, has said is class abuse, since the rich and the well-heeled are never paraded like that — the Ogboni King denied being part of the protest — a clear lie, juxtaposed with the video of his benign rally boast.

Why did he take part in the rally, despite the police warning, if he couldn’t summon enough courage to back his conviction?  His fundamental right to peaceful protest, which even the police cannot abridge?  Fine.

But why a brazen lie, with the sanctity of his faith?  In traditional society, that would have been a high crime, for the gods frowned at such.  Lucky for the Ogboni King, though: he could get off lightly, for he appeared not caught with any weapon.  But not so, with his faith, which he had ridiculed by his lie.

That would be a stiff price to pay, for at best a controversial cause — the comic making of a tragic fall guy!  So long for “Ajamejebi“!

The Nation