Lagos monarch in court over legitimacy claims

Two princes have asked a court to nullify his appointment 14 years after his coronation.

Rilwan Akiolu, Oba of Lagos

Two princes have asked a court to nullify the appointment of the Oba (king) of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, 14 years after his coronation as the paramount ruler of Nigeria's biggest city.

Princes Adedoyin Adebiyi and Rasheed Modile said in their submission to the high court in Lagos on Monday that the king was not a direct descendant of the first oba of Lagos.

The embattled Akiolu, 73, last month came under fire for snubbing the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, at a public event in Lagos.

The Ooni of Ife is the most powerful and influential monarch among the Yoruba people of southwest Nigeria, the country's second biggest ethnic group after the Hausa-Fulani.

Historically, the Ooni or any king in Yorubaland was revered and considered "the sovereign, second in rank to the gods."

Akiolu denied disrespecting the 42-year-old Ooni and also rejected the latest claims about his legitimacy, saying he was a member of the royal family whose installation was in line with tradition.

"By native law and customs and by law, I am the bona fide Oba of Lagos," he was quoted as telling the court by local media.

The princes' case, which predates the ooni controversy, underlines the continued prominence of traditional rulers in Nigeria as key figures in society, despite their lack of formal powers.

Akiolu said his appointment was approved by the Lagos state government based on the recommendation of kingmakers.

The case was adjourned until June 19.

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