Otunba Francis Meshioye, an astute administrator, chartered accountant and current Olori Oluwo (Supreme Leader) of the Reformed Ogboni Fraternity (ROF) has described the group as one of the most powerful institutions made up of influential minds in the country.
Ogboni (also known as Osugbo in Ijèbú) is a fraternal institution which at first was indigenous to the Yoruba language-speaking polities of Nigeria, Republic of Bénin and Togo, as well as among the Edo people, but later refined as Reformed Ogboni Fraternity and opened to people of influence and means across Nigeria.
Speaking at a press conference marking the 102nd anniversary of the controversial society, which many have labeled a cult group due to their ritualistic practices, Otunba Meshioye who attained the highest rank in 2010 said it members transcend boundaries and are leaders in the political, religious, industrial, entertainment, and military arenas.
In-fact, he noted that the founder of the fraternity was a religious leader, “It is in history books that Archdeacon T.A J. Ogunbiyi started the fraternity on December 18, 1914 and named it Ogboni Onigbagbo (meaning Fraternity of Believers). Our past leaders include Sir Adeyemo Alakija, who was the first Olori Oluwo and he was followed by Sir Adetokunbo Ademola. We have had members including Chief Oladeinde Lawson, the late Archbishop Vining, Reverend David Mellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Sardauna, Ahmadu Bello, and Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola amongst others.”
Adding he said. “These are big names in the society. Sir Alakija was a great politician and lawyer who served in several keep positions before independence. It is the same for Sir Ademola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, (SAN) and one time Chief Justice of Nigeria. Not to talk of the first President of Nigeria Nnamdi Azikwe and Ahmadu Bello, the first Prime Minister of Nigeria. We are talking about a society of great men who by association see themselves at brothers.”
Our Members are Influential People
Aside from the names mentioned by Otunba Meshioye, there is no doubt that many influential Nigerians secretly belong to the sects to gain influence and wealth in the society. Also it is no longer a Yoruba thing but now people of influence and wealth in all ethnic and religious groups now belong to it. While two-time president of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo may have come out in the open to declare his membership, ROF, it is still in rumour domain that late governor of Lagos state Sir Michael Otedola was a staunch member and indeed his billionaire son, Femi Otedola, succeeded him. Most members are people of influence in the society and seemingly above the law.
It is also correct to say that sons of late and living members of Ogboni Fraternity also belong to the sect because one of the known Ogboni ritual in which the first-born male child automatically becomes a member is still in operation up till today.
There is however no way to vouch that they do not employ traditional rites and rituals during their meetings as it is not done or open to the public but in private and only with members.
The tie to Yoruba traditional rites and rituals is strong evidence ROF is involved in human sacrifices popularly called ‘ritual killings’ in local parlance.
For one, initiation of new members is associated with human sacrifice as a way to bind the member to the group for life and secondly, remains of late members are taken away by the ROF to unknown destinations. This has created issues with family members of late Ogboni members but the groups usually had its way.
Historically, rituals for gaining power, influence and wealth have been associated with human sacrifices using disabled children, hunchbacks and albinos in Yoruba tradition and so, ROF maybe seriously involved. It is the reason why ROF guides its practices and rituals jealously and only members who may have sworn to secrecy know what goes on inside.
Otunba Meshioye, however, added that ROF is fashioned after the Mason and Lodge Societies and operates for the betterment of their members and the country at large.