By Abubakar Imam
“No society exists without one form of iniquity or the other”
—Sheikh Muhammad Al-Amin El-Kanemi(1776-1837)
Today, I like to share a strange, or do I say a pathetic story I heard from the author of the most influential book on the history of Ilorin Emirate,the highly-respected Alhaji L. A. K. Jimoh(b.1940). The story simply explains that it cannot be always shining for any geographical entity. There would always be the good,the bad and the ugly as absolute sanity or insanity among the inhabitants of either an heterogeneous entity or an homogeneous polity is an illusion.
It,therefore, beholds on those who know to transmit the information to others for all to reflect in order to pursue the course of action that would not only benefit them but also the rest of the society.
I was not the only one the renowned technocrat,politician and community leader shared the inelegant story with. He narrated the allegorical story at a meeting attended by many of the previous National Presidents of the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union(IEDPU).The meeting was called to find solutions to some challenges rocking the Union, then. I was among the few younger elements not only invited to attend but to also make one presentation or the other.
I cannot recollect the exact date of the parley. But it was in February, 2018 at the Chambers of a distinguished elder-statesman,Alhaji Aliyu Alarape Salman, (SAN); who presided-over the meeting.
Nevertheless, and as a “certificated Aloraka”,I have imposed the obligation of disseminating the “tori”for all to learn from about the complexity of the world we live in.
The story was about a certain social misfit who terrorised Ilorin for several years.The man was simply known as Pamonlekun, which literally means someone who makes babies to cry.
The object of this story was said to be a notorious armed robber. He was,no doubt,an Ilorin man.He was, however, unlike other compatriots.He was neither known with erudition nor patriotism.His notoriety reached infamous crescendo or apogee during the reign of the fourth Emir of Ilorin, Shaykh Aliyu ibn Shitta,who reigned between 1868 and 1891.
Pamonlekun was an unrepentant robber.He was jailed several times for his crimes. Each time he completed his jail term, he and his gang would go round the town singing and dancing in celebration of his release from gaol.
At every corner of the town, he and his comrades-in-crime would sing”Pamonlekun ti ewon de Oju ti Baba eniti oloo. Ti ewon de”( meaning -Pamonlekun is back from prison. To hell with cowards).
As he sang round the town with chorus from his fellow criminals; people would “troop out enmasse” to hail him. They did that not because they loved him, neither was it also to encourage his escapades. Rather, they were afraid of the repercussions of not coming out to do so!! This was because Pamonlekun was so terrific a terror that any household he passed by without his party being hailed would be thrown into repeated and mindless loss of property subsequently!!!
Pamonlekun did that for several years. He caused panic and socio-economic dislocations for many families across the town until the fifth Emir, Shaykh Abdulsalam ibn Zubair (Oba Momo), assumed the leadership of the Emirate in 1891.That was when he met his Waterloo!
Oba Mama(1836-1896) was said to be a no-nonsense Emir and a leader who would not condone any form of criminality.The Emir, while relaxing one fateful day, heard Pamonlekun and his gang singing and dancing around the palace as a mark of completing ,yet another jail term.
The Emir enquired from the palace courtiers what was happening. When he was told that it was an arrogant and perilous misfit and his gang that were celebrating the release of the robbery kingpin from prison, he felt that a measure must be swiftly taken to curb such a calculated affront on the peace,progress and stability of Ilorin.
The Emir sent for Pamonlekun. He ordered him and his gang to sing the song he had earlier heard them singing. The infamous criminal had no choice but to “mis-entertain” the Emir who did not find the act and the “actors” amusing.
Oba Mama became more enraged.He was disturbed that a criminal who should rot in jail was celebrating his criminal exploits in an “ilu ti oni Oba ti oni Ijoye”. Relying on no other evidence, the Emir instantly gave a damning judgement.He ordered that the criminal should be immediately manacled and dealt with in a way that he would not live to tell the story.That inglorious episode ended the life and times of that unusual criminal whose family,according to the distinguished historian, remains untraceable till date.
The lessons of this story are many.They are relevant at all times.The teachings are, however,particularly more compelling now,more than ever before,when the sing-song every where and on every lip is the security of life and property.
One of the lessons is that the more expanded a polity is, the growing the level of criminality obtainable therein.This is for no other reason but because of the possibility of “anko eran mero”. The second lesson is that no matter how powerful you think you are, never celebrate your iniquity.
One other lesson of the career of that infamous professional ancestor of “alo ki Olohun ke igbe” is that though we would all die one day, our deeds and most especially misdeeds would remain in the sand of time and could be a painful lesson to generations yet unborn.Such unacceptable dispositions may lead to a situation where the perpetrator would be rejected,denied or outrightly disowned by the closest of his relations.Though they always say “koni buru titi ko mon ku enikan mon ni” but in reality “ajorin dun, sugbon bi ti ogba ewon ko”.
Also derivable from the story is that leaders must always be responsive and assertive at all times and on all issues,most especially on matters that have to do with the welfare of their people. If Oba Mama had not risen to the occasion, the perpetuation of such terrible criminality by Pamonlekun and his gang would have lasted beyond the tenure of that Emir, who until the era of the 10th Emir, Mallam Aliyu Abdulkadir,who lived between 1918 and 1995 and reigned from 1992 and 1995, was the shortest reigning sovereign in the history of Ilorin Emirate.
I am quite positive that the contemporary Ilorin Emirate does not have contemptuous law-breakers like Pamonlekun.We are members of a community,which is far from hell and share affinity with the garden of felicity. May our beloved community and society have more of enviable compatriots who will not only be proud of themselves but always excite their brothers and sisters to the level that those who would never meet them would happily describe them as “omo wa ni”.
Abubakar Imam is the
National Publicity Secretary of
Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union.