The Politics of Gbaalefa Peninsula

HRM. Ọba Olufemi Sodeinde, Olú of Iju Gbalefa Land.

What you must know about Gbaalefa…

Gbaalefa peninsula is an amalgamation of a vast forest land captured by Egba forces, led by Akindele Gbaalefa of Owu, from the Ilobis and Ado Odos. It was so named after the Owu War General, AKINDELE GBAALEFA who secured the territory.
Gbaalefa was never Awori.

Gbaalefa used the war slaves to plant orogbo (bitter Kola) in all the forest in the Peninsula. Igbó Gbàálẹ́fà is the name they called the place. The warriors under Gbaalefa Peninsula made Iju their headquarters. Baale Iju appoints Baales all over the peninsula .

Note : Baale Iju has now been upgraded to the status of an Oba. He is the Olú of Iju Gbalefa Land

The peninsula is distinct from Ota.

Historical records show that the Owu/Egba conquered the contested areas during the Ilobi, Ado-Odo and Dahomey wars of 1836 to 1853.
It was documented that Henry Townsend, a British missionary, was present at the ceremonial takeover of the territory by Akindele Gbalefa, the Owu Warrior and head of the Egba allied forces.
The Southern part of Gbalefa forest, as it was then called, formerly belonged to the Ados, while the Northern part belonged to the Ilobis. The forest was uninhabited at the time it was conquered.

Historical records also show that it was the Owu/Egba community who allocated farming lands to Ota natives. The Owu/Egba argued that the contested area originally belonged to Ado and Ilobi, and not to Ota, before the conquest.

In 1937, the colonial government merged Ota and Gbalefa Peninsula under the Egba Native Administration in present day Ogun State, Nigeria.

To underline that Gbelefa Peninsula does not belong to the Aworis/Ottas, a meeting was held on Wednesday, 10 April 1935 at the Olota’s Palace between the District Officer from Abeokuta (Representing the resident of Abeokuta Province) and the indigenes of Otta as represented by the Olota of Ota, his chiefs, and the representatives of Ota Bales.

The meeting had been called as a result of a publication in the Akede Eko March 30, 1935, on page 7 Col.2, claiming that Gbelefa Peninsula belonged to the Aworis. The meeting was called by the Resident of Abeokuta Province to ascertain the veracity of the claim from the Aworis living in Otta.

Ota was annexed to Egba division in 1842, while Gbaalefa peninsula was merged with Egba division in 1853, after the Ado war. Egba flag was hoisted in Ota in 1842, while that of Gbaalefa was hoisted in 1855. It was placed in Ota district because of its proximity to Ota and more because both were within Egba Authority. It was the Ọlọ́tà Isiyemi who pleaded with the Egba authority to treat Otas as Egbas in the allocation of forest lands in the peninsula.

In 1913, the area was merged with Egbado division . This enraged the Egbas especially those in the peninsula, led by the off springs of the warriors in Iju. Due to their vehement protests, it was re merged with Egba division, (Gazette no 34 of 12th June 1919).

Please note that Egba, as mentioned in these texts refers to Egba and Owu people.

Since the early 1980s, there has been contention about the ownership of Ilobi and Ado-Odo area. While the Egba claim that Ota people were tenants accommodated by their forebears, having successfully displaced the Ilobi and Ado-Odo during the Egba/Dahomey war, the Otta/Awori communities see themselves as original settlers in the area. This ownership disagreement has led to litigants to present their cases before High Court judges in Nigeria.

Statue of Akindele Gbalefa, the Owu warlord who annexed the Gbalefa Penninsula

When in March 2006, The Olowu of Owu, Oba Dr. Olusanya Adegboyega Dosunmu II started the appointment of 16 coronets within Owu Kingdom. The appointment/installation of the coronets was met with strong opposition from the Olota of Ota, Oba Alani Osanyintola Oyede who claimed that Oba Olowu of Owu illegally encroached on his territory with some of those appointments. The following are some of the coronet Obas, and their domains:

Oba Rasheed Adeosun – The Alaga of Aga Olowo

Oba L.K. Ogunseye – The Onijoko of Ijoko

Oba Olatunji Oluyomi – The Alatan of Atan-Gbalefa Land

Oba Oluwagboun Adebayo – The Onisango of Sango

So, as Ota is demanding its own traditional Council, it should be noted that Gbaalefa peninsula is NOT a part of it. The fair and reasonable options available should be, either Gbaalefa gets her own Traditional Council or goes with the Owu Traditional Council.
Of course, the peninsula is larger than Remo and far bigger than Awori in Ogun State. Moreover, Sánngó is Igbo Olowu. It can not become part of Awori traditional Council, “abi Awori ní Olowu ni”?