Hell was let loose at the Ikorodu Abattoir, popularly known as ‘Odo Eran’, on Thursday, December 2, 2021, as angry mob shutdown the facility due to a serious leadership crisis within the lkorodu chapter of the Lagos State Butchers Association, over the choice of candidate for the vacant Chairmanship position of the association.
The vacuum in the leadership of the abattoir was created by the demise of the former Chairman of the association, Alhaji Taliat Lawal, popularly called ‘Baba Nosimot’, who died on Saturday, October 23, 2021.
According to report gathered, the current leadership crisis, which has been described as a battle between the indigene and non-indigene members of the butchers association, is said to be the first in the over 50 years of the existence of the abattoir as there is a rotational succession arrangement for the Chairmanship position among the major groups in the abattoir which has been peacefully adhered to over the years.
The major groups are the Iwo group, Ibadan group, Abeokuta group, Kwara group and Ikorodu group.
While the lkorodu group is said to have produced the first Chairman of the association, the Abeokuta group produced his successor (Baba Nosimot).
It was also gathered that after the death of the former Chairman, the butcher association had appointed a new leader, Alhaji Sulaimon Obalowu from the Kwara group whose emergence was claimed to have enjoyed massive support and acceptance of the butchers and others doing business in the abattoir.
However, things took a dramatic turn on Thursday, December 2, when a crowd of angry young butchers loyal to the non-indigene group stormed the abattoir in the early hours of the that day and locked up the facility while also barricading the main entrance with stones and bonfire to prevent entry.
The tensed situation completely paralyzed business activities in the abattoir throughout the day as both butchers and customers were locked out of the facility which was unusually deserted when Oriwu Sun team visited later in the day.
The action of the aggrieved young butchers was said to have been provoked by an alleged imposition of a new Chairman for the abattoir by the Ayangbure of lkorodu.
It was gathered that the lkorodu group had influenced Oba Kabiru Shotobi to appoint a young man and an Ikorodu indigene, Mr. Dosunmu Aleja, as leader of the butchers association, against popular wishes.
The monarch was said to have also called the executives of the association to a meeting in his palace on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, and told them emphatically that he wants Aleja who is the son of the first Chairman of the association, to become the next Chairman of the abattoir and the six executive members of the association at the meeting were reported to have signed an agreement in acceptance of the monarch’s request.
The executives, according to report, later went back on their words after leaving the palace as they mobilised their members to lock the abattoir in the evening of that day and prevented business from taking place in protest of Oba Shotobi’s demand for an lkorodu indigene to occupy the Chairmanship position.
Speaking with Oriwu Sun at the Ayangbure palace, Mr Dosunmu Aleja confirmed the said meeting of the executives of the butchers association with Oba Shotobi and also said the six of them voluntary signed a pact acceding to his choice for the Chairmanship position on the request of the monarch.
He, however, wondered why the officers are opposed to his emergence after leaving the palace.
“After we had all met the Kabiyesi and signed an agreement that l should become the next Chairman of the association, we all embraced ourselves and left. But to my surprise, when l went to the abattoir later in the evening to thank them for their support, I saw that the place had been locked while some guys where throwing bones and stones in my direction.
I immediately sensed danger and quickly left with my team for the palace to inform the Kabiyesi about the situation”.
Reacting to the allegation that he’s not entitled to the Chairmanship position because he’s not a major cow killers in the abattoir and that he’s an apprentice who doesn’t owns a counter in the abattoir, Aleja said that he has been working in the slaughter slab with his father when he was 12 year old and that he has a counter where he operates.
He added that he has the required experience to lead the association and that he intends to further develop the abattoir and admit more lkorodu indigenes whom he said are currently being denied space to operate by the current leadership.
Aleja also accused Chief Sulaimon Ogidi, the Ajiroba of Ikorodu and operator of the mechanised section of the abattoir, of taking side with the non-indigene butchers, stating that he once called him and asked him to drop his ambition and take up the vice chairmanship position if he does not wish to die.
Also, the General Secretary of the butchers association and the only lkorodu indigene in the current executive, Alfa Amuda Taofeek, also said that some members of the other group who have sympathy for the Aleja group, informed them about how Chief Sulaimon Ogidi has been working against the interest of the lkorodu indigenes over the Chairmanship position.
He said that the executives of the association did not carry lkorodu indigenes along in the succession process and that he could not raise any objection when he found out because they are in the majority while he is all alone in their midst.
Alfa Taofeek said that Aleja has the experience and professional expertise to occupy the Chairmanship position being the son of the first Chairman of the association, while he also described the claim that he does not have a counter in the abattoir as a lie.
He explained that the non-indigene group must accept Oba Shotobi’s directive that Aleja should become the next Chairman of the abattoir because he is the owner of the land and his command is final.
While acknowledging that the non-indigenes have more butchers in the abattoir than the lkorodu group, he said their threat to relocate would not affect the abattoir, stating that the lkorodu indigenes have the numbers and professional expertise to manage it.
Also, Chief Kareem Ore, the Apena of lkorodu, in his reaction, also berated Chief Sulaimon Ogidi for supporting non-indigenes against lkorodu indigenes in the abattoir and warned those opposing the directive of Oba Shotobi over the Chairmanship crisis to desist from their actions or will face the wrath of the gods of lkorodu land.
Meanwhile, when Oriwu Sun visited the abattoir later in the day, an uneasy atmosphere still enveloped the atmosphere as traces of burnt tyres were seen at the entrance while over 50 young boys and men, including some women, who are either butchers, apprentice or traders working in the abattoir, were seen hanging around the vicinity.
Immediately the Oriwu Sun crew alighted from their vehicle and advanced towards their direction, they immediately came around and were ready to grant us audience after knowing our mission.
One of them, Ganiyu Siyanbola (aka King of Boys) volunteered to speak on behalf of the turbo-charged crowd who were all non-indigene workers in the abattoir and supporters of the new Chairman, Obalowu.
He confirmed to our reporters that the abattoir was locked by the leadership of the association to show their grievances against an attempt to impose an lkorodu indigene as the Chairman of the abattoir.
Siyanbola explained that since the over 50 years existence of the association, there has never been crisis over its leadership as the process has always been handled internally without interference from the government or any oba.
He said that there’s a laid down rotational arrangement for the Chairmanship position and that according to the arrangement, Kwara, Iwo and Ibadan groups are next in line to produce the Chairman of the association as both lkorodu and Abeokuta groups had produced the first two Chairmen.
Siyanbola warned the lkorodu group to desist from using force and influence to take over the leadership of the association and urged them to wait until it goes round all the major groups in the abattoir, stating that any attempt to do so could cause further crisis.
He said that the association has already elected one Alhaji Sulaimon Obalowu from Kwara State as the new Chairman and that he’s enjoying overwhelmed support of everyone in the abattoir.
On the allegation that the lkorodu group was not carried along in the selection process for the Chairmanship position, Siyanbola said it was all lies woven by the lkorodu butchers to discredit the new Chairman, stating that some of them were present alongside Chief Sulaimon Ogidi, when the new Chairman was presented to Oba Shotobi during the Ikorodu-Oga Day at his palace where they also gifted a cow to the oba.
On the allegation that six executive members of the association signed a pact to show their support for Aleja as the new Chairman of the association during their meeting with Oba Shotobi, he said that two of the executives (Obalowu and the youth leader) did not sign the pact and that the other four that signed did not do it out of their free will.
He said that lkorodu indigenes are in the minority in the association and has the least butchers that slaughter cows in the abattoir compare to other groups and therefore wondered why they are insisting on taking over the leadership of the association at the expense of those in the majority.
He also said that the Chairmanship of the association is meant for the elderly and experienced butchers who are major cow killers in the abattoir and not for someone like Aleja whom he described as a mere apprentice who survived on selling cows’ intestines and does not have a counter and also lacks the professional experience and expertise to lead the association.
He also said that Aleja is not popular in the market unlike Obalowu and that he’s only being supported by the few lkorodu butchers who are using him for their selfish interests.
On the directive of Oba Shotobi that an indigene of lkorodu must be made the Chairman of the association, he said that though, the monarch is the owner of lkorodu land but that he cannot impose an lkorodu indigene on them as Chairman since they’re in the majority and that if the oba insist, they would vacate the abattoir and go elsewhere to ply their trade.
He also disputed the allegation that Chief Sulaimon Ogidi was supporting the non-indigene against the lkorodu indigenes over the leadership tussle, stating that the Ajiroba of lkorodu is simply telling the truth based on the reality on ground in the abattoir.
Also, Chief Sulaimon Ogidi, while speaking Oriwu Sun on phone said that he was not informed about the meeting between Oba Shotobi and the warring parties of the butchers association.
He also said that he had met with Kabiyesi two days before the said meeting to share his candid opinion with him on the leadership crisis rocking the association.
In a brief telephone interview with Oriwu Sun, Oba Kabiru Shotobi said that he believes that it is time for the Ikorodu indigenes to take charge of the abbatoir since the non-indigenes have been in control of its leadership for years.
Chief Sulaimon stated that he told Oba Shotobi that Aleja should be advised to take the vice Chairmanship post to enable him understand the politics of the association and equipped himself with the required experience for the Chairmanship position.
He also said that he suggested that Aleja should be given financial assistance to first establish himself in the business and become one of the power brokers before aspiring to lead the association.
While denying the allegation that he’s working against lkorodu indigenes in the abattoir, he assured that the crisis would be peaceful resolved in the best interest of all parties involved.