‘Eleko of Eko’ or ‘ the Oba of Lagos’

It is not uncommon nowadays to find people refer to the stool of Oba of Lagos, as the Eleko of Eko, a title that delimits the expansive domain to a shrink of its original space and magnitude. This is particularly disheartening because there is no such official title as Eleko of Eko in the entire history of Lagos and its kingdom.

Unfortunately, this falsehood seems to be entrenched in the fabric of the Lagos society to the extent that even people in the “ EseIga “ (that is those in the immediate outer recess of the palace” are victims of this historical felicity.

While one may not really know the intention of proponents of this title, it is obvious that the marketers of this idea have been able to sell it in quantum to the numerous subjects of the Royal Father. Permitting this misinformation to thrive and survive has far-reaching consequences to the historical facts of Lagos in particular and Lagos State in general.

More-so, that distortions, misrepresentation, and falsehood have gained prominence in the archival records of Lagos. Except for the recent intervention of the monarch, Oba Akiolu, who is a lawyer and a man with a sense of history, it is amazing that the palace has remained unimpressively taciturn in the face of these faulty remodeling of our history. Of course, if you fail to write your history, other people will write it for you and the content, whatever it is would survive the test of time. After all, when lies are repeated, they become the truth.

The suspicion is that those who refer to the title of Oba of Lagos as Elekoof Eko must have borrowed their leaves from the title of Oba Eshugbayi of the Docemo’s ascendancy whose alias was Eleko of Eko. Esugbayi was the Oba of Lagos from 1901 to 1925 and 1931 to 1932. He was deposed and deported to Oyo by the British Colonial Government in 1925 due to issues pertaining to Eleko’s staff of office, (a story for another day), the Oluwa land case and for his refusal to distance himself from Hebert Macaulay’s statement about the colonial administration in Lagos, in which Macaulay posited that despite the fact that Eleko was in control of a landmass that was three times the size of Great Britain, his remuneration as an Oba was less than that of the lowest-paid gardener in Britain. He was reinstated to the throne in 1931 and died in 1932. While it lasted, Esugbayi took the Colonial Administration through long, windy and rigorous legal tussle that culminated in his victory and once and for all settled the lacuna between indigenous rights and colonial rule in Nigeria.

As reported in the Lagos Daily News of Thursday April 9, 1931, in the appeal case between Esugbayi Eleko, and the Officer Administering the Government of Nigeria and the District Officer of Oyo in the Privy Council at the Council Chamber, Whitehall, SW on Friday, February 9, 1931 where Lord Blanesburgh, Lord Atkin and Sir Lancelot Sanderson were in attendance, Esugbayiswore to two affidavits. In Affidavit Number 1 of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, in the Divisional Court Number 2 before His Honour Justice M.L.Tew, Esugbayi said and I quote “………….4. That my name is Eleko and that there is no such office as the office of Eleko.

And in Affidavit Number 2 before the same Judge and in the same court, Eshugbayi said and I quote “…..5. That there is no such office as that of Eleko. The King of Lagos has always been called by their private names. The word Eleko is no title. When I was a boy, the son of one Orogiri, a fisherman wanted to fight me whereupon Orogiri asked his son if he knew who I was. Orogiri informed his son that I would one day be the owner of Lagos using the word Eleko and from that time I have become known as Eleko. At that time my father was on the throne as the King of Lagos. The Yoruba word Eko means Lag It is worthy of note that no Lagos Oba was ever addressed as Eleko of Eko prior to the advent of Eshugbayi and that the title assumed its own full life after his expiration.

Ojikutu wrote from Faculty of Management Sciences, University of Lagos.

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