- Femi Okunnu, the 84-year-old elder statesman, said the Binis were some of the last settlers in Lagos, but forcefully took over its rulership
- Okunnu said apart from the Oba of Lagos who has strong ties with the Binis, Obanikoro also hails from the south-south kingdom
- The former federal commissioner also revealed that previously, all late Oba of Lagos were taken to Benin for burial
Former federal commissioner for Works and Housing, Femi Okunnu, an elder statesman, has given his own version of the controversial story behind relationship between Benin and Lagos.
NAIJ.com reports that Oba Rilwan Akiolu, the monarch in charge of Lagos, recently stirred controversy with his claim that Lagos is an extension of Benin.
While this statement from the revered oba has generated varied reactions, 84-year-old Okunnu said Akiolu was truly from Benin.
He also mentioned Musiliu Obanikoro, a former minister of State for Defence under former President Goodluck Jonathan as having an ancestral link with Benin.
In an interview with The Nation, Okunnu denied insinuations that Lagos is ‘no man’s land’ as being claimed in some areas.
He said: “In the case of Lagos, it’s a misnomer to say it is a no-man’s land. It’s rubbish. Absolute rubbish!
“Lagos was peopled by the Aworis and Awori land spread from Badagry through to Ota. They settled mostly in Ikeja, a division of Lagos.
“The Idejo chiefs, the white cap chiefs, who are the land owning chiefs, are basically Aworis and some of them are now Obas.
“I’m talking about the Oniru, the Olumegbon, Aromire, Oluwa, Ojora, Oloto and a couple others. After them, waves of immigrants, from today’s Niger state, started trooping in.
“I’m talking of the Tapas, the Nupes. I have Nupe blood. My father’s mother was a daughter of a Nupe man, Umoru from Idunsagbe in Lagos Island.
“Mind you, I’m talking of my great, great, grand-father; so you can imagine how long we’re talking about and how far our history dates back in Lagos. The Oshodi family of Lagos were originally Tapa.
“Later we had another batch of immigrants over a period of time – those who had been taken into slavery in the North and South America and the West Indies but who had been freed following the abolition of slave trade about 170 years ago.
“Some of them also came in from Freetown, Sierra Leone. That’s where we have the Saro, Eko connection. They settled in the Olowogbowo area.
“Then we had the Binis from Benin (present Edo state).
“They invaded Lagos and settled in the best part of what we now call Isale-Eko.
“Oba Ado and all successive kings of Lagos are of Benin. You won’t say they are not Lagosians because we are talking of hundreds of years ago.
“So you can see that it is the latter day immigrants, who are full of the nonsense that Lagos is a no-man’s land.”
Okunnu explained that the Binis forcefully took over the traditional stool from the original inhabitants adding: “Iga Idunganran itself was a gift to Oba Ado by Oloye Aromire, a white cap chief. He owned the land that the palace occupies till today.
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“That is why till today, we have sections of Isale-Eko with Bini connections. When you hear of Idumota, Idunsagbe, Idunmaigbo, Idun-tafa; the word idun had bini origin. And then we had some chiefs who came with King Ado. That is another wide area.
“But suffice to say that Obanikoro, was a medicine chief who came with King Ado; so is Ashogbon.
“In Bini, it is Asogbon. There is also Bajulaye, who originally was Bazuaye. So the Bini connection is very deep. As a matter of fact, the corpses of all the obas, from King Ado through to Oba Adele I, who died at about 1834, were all taken to Benin for burial.”
Musiliu Obanikoro had replied Okunnu saying his family is not from Benin but Lagos state.
NAIJ.com reports Obanikoro as saying though he personally had a link with Benin City through his paternal great grandmother, who was from Eletu-Odibo family, the first Obanikoro was not from Benin.
Obanikoro said the descendants of Chief Obanikoro, including Ajayi-Bembe, Ogunlana Arewa, Abisawo Otun, Osadeko, Aregbe and Oyerokun, were conscious of their Awori root.
He said: “Chief Okunnu said Obanikoro was from Benin, we are not from Benin. We are from Aworiland.
"We are from Idiluwo-Ile in Ojo local government. Personally, I have Bini blood. My paternal great grandmother was from Eletu-Odibo family. Eletu-Odibo came with the Oba of Benin to Lagos."
Watch as the Ooni of Ife speaks in this video: