• Tony Igele

Obanikoro Counters Ex-Minister Okunnu, say his Family not from Benin

A former Nigerian Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, has refuted claims that his progenitor, Obanikoro of Lagos, was from Benin Kingdom, Edo State.

The former minister, who made this claim on Thursday, argued that the legendary Obanikoro was an Awori from Idiluwo-Ile in Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos state.

Mr. Obanikoro was reacting to claims by a former Federal Commissioner for Works and Housing, Femi Okunnu, who said Obanikoro was from Benin.

Mr. Okunnu, while tracing the history of the Oba of Lagos in a recent interview with The Nation newspaper, had said that Obanikoro was a medicine-man from Benin.

“Iga Idunganran itself was a gift to Oba Ado by Oloye Aromire, a white cap chief,” Mr. Okunnu had said in the interview.

“He owned the land that the palace occupies till today. 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.”

But Mr. Obanikoro, a former gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Lagos, said the account was false.

He said while he personally had a link with Benin City through his paternal great grand mother, who was from Eletu-Odibo family, the first Obanikoro was not from Benin.

The former Nigerian ambassador to Ghana noted that the descendants of Chief Obanikoro, including Ajayi-Bembe, Ogunlana Arewa, Abisawo Otun, Osadeko, Aregbe and Oyerokun, were conscious of their Awori root.

“Chief Okunnu said Obanikoro was from Benin, we are not from Benin,” he said.

“We are from Aworiland. We are from Idiluwo-Ile in Ojo local government. Personally, I have Bini blood. My paternal great grand mother was from Eletu-Odibo family. Eletu-Odibo came with the Oba of Benin to Lagos.

“She was the daughter of Ogabi Eletu-Odibo. But, Obanikoro was not a Bini man. He was an Awori,” Mr. Obanikoro added.

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