OGBOMOSO: Seminary, Bowen land row takes fresh twist as sources reveal what Osupa chieftaincy family really wants

OGBOMOSO: Seminary, Bowen land row takes fresh twist as sources reveal what Osupa chieftaincy family really wants




The lingering row over the land the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary (NBTS) and the Bowen University Teaching Hospital (BUTH), both in Ogbomoso, Oyo state, may quickly dissipate if the authorities of the institutions or the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC) will take one crucial step, it has been revealed.


Recall the land hosting the over one hundred year institutions adjacent each other and belonging to the NBC (formerly to the Southern Baptist Convention USA), has become a subject of controversy with the Baale Osupa Chieftaincy Family claiming ownership of the about 156 acre land (combined) i.e. NBTS – 98 acres, BUTH – 58 acres.


In December 2023, the family took the matter to court and is now a subject of litigation.


The land according to reports was originally leased to host the theological seminary (which became the first degree awarding institution in Nigeria) and the hospital (formerly Baptist Medical Centre) for 100 years – 1917 – 2017. While the seminary was established by Rev’d Charles Edwin Smith in 1898, the hospital was founded by Dr George Green in 1907. Both pioneers were American Baptist missionaries.


This land lease arrangement obviously was undertaken with the involvement of the then Baale of Ogbomoso, HRH Bello Oyewumi Ajagungbade III, being the paramount traditional ruler in the town.


Now, naturally, the present generation of the family wants the agreement revisited.


A member of the family who however spoke under condition of anonymity (because he was not authorized to speak on the matter) informed ogbomosoinsightonline.com recently that the family instituted the lawsuit because the NBC ignored its request to renegotiate the agreement and so is seeking the revocation of the agreement and eviction of the “tenants.”


“What do we stand to gain in the controversy? Nothing!” The anonymous speaker submitted.


“But it is incontrovertible that the land belongs to our family, it was leased to the then Baptist Mission for hundred years in support of mission work. Our fathers did not sell the land, it was on leasehold.”


He informed the duration was 100 years, that is 1917 to 2017.


Continuing, the source said, “In 2014, we wrote a letter to remind the NBC of the impending lapse of the lease.


“We sent letters also in 2015, 2016, 2017 and repeated it in 2021. But we received no response. What we discovered meanwhile was that they started to route its resolution through the Soun of Ogbomoso when there is irrefutable evidence that the land belongs to us.”


“Is that the grouse of the family?’ He was asked.


“Not really,” the source said.


“Part of what we want is recognition. For the Baptist leadership to recognize the contributions of our fathers and the family in the expansion of gospel, economic, educational, social and all round development of Ogbomoso, Oyo state and Nigeria as a whole.


“If they could recognize Rev’d Jefferson Thomas Bowen who brought Baptist mission to Nigeria and to Ogbomoso (beginning on Osupa land) and named a university after him today; if they could recognize Dr George Green by honouring his memory with the name of a school, if C.E. Smith also has a monument and a secondary school named after him, is it too much if we that gave out the land and on whose land everything started is accorded due recognition? That is what we want – recognition of the contributions of our fathers, our family.”


The source maintained, “It is not actually about money, we are not after them vacating the land, there is nothing to gain from it. We are proud to have made such valuable contributions. But let them recognize our efforts. Do you know Kersey Children Home (Baby), the First Baptist Church in Ogbomosoland and which is second in Nigeria, the Baptist Nursing School, Baptist Mission Hospital (which became BUTH) all started on our land to the glory of God?


“So, what we want is recognition such as naming of a hall after our family, giving us job quota, granting health discount to elderly persons in our family, giving consideration to our children seeking admission into the seminary and giving them discount etc. I don’t think that is too much. We are not out to destroy any legacy, we are not after money but naming a monument or gravestone as a token of recognition of our contribution and other benefits.


“We appreciate the intervention of the Soun Oba Olaoye. It is hoped his majesty will bring amicable resolution.”


Another family source added, “We approached the court in December 2023 after our letters were ignored, the matter is in court now though Oba Soun had encouraged us to withdraw the suit. Let’s assume we go through the case and we win what happens! Baale Osupa chieftaincy family will thereby become owners of these institutions. But that is on a lighter mood. Let them accord us due recognition and it will be settled amicably.” L


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