Abibu Lagunju was a titled traditional Nigerian ruler who held the office of Timi of Ede. He was one of the earliest Yoruba Muslim political leaders. As Timi, he promoted Islam in the town of Ede, however, his reign was also one of controversy as he was deposed thrice and re-instated twice.
Lagunju was born prior to the establishment of the new town of Ede at a new side of the Oshun river. He was born to the Lagunju Oduniyi royal house of Ede the descendant of Lalemo dynasty. He was given the name Sangolami by his parents who were Sango devotees.
In his youth, he left Ede for Ilorin where he embraced Islam. When he returned to Ede, he drew opposition from some residents in Ede and he moved to a location far from the main center of the town. In the new location, he practiced Islam with a few other adherents. It is on record that despite his many travail, he remained the longest serving Timi, having reigned for 60 years before he died at a ripe age of 90 years.
The Timi Abibu Lagunju, was the first Muslim to rule in
Ede, Islam spread rapidly, for Lagunju gave his daughters
in marriage to important chiefs who would turn Muslim
and to others, he offered titles. Indeed, Abibu Lagunju
was most likely the first Muslim Oba in Yorubaland given
that fact that he was already on the throne for a few years
when, in November 1857, the Baptist Missionary, W.H.
Clarke visited Ede. Our position is further buttressed by
the fact that other Yoruba Muslim strongholds only
produced their Muslim Obas at much later dates:
Lamuye of Iwo in 1860, Momodu Latoosa of Ibadan in
1871, Iyanda Oloko of Epe in 1875, Iseyin in 1895,Alaafin
Lawani Agogoja of New Oyo in 1890 and Awujale
Adetona Fusigboye of Ijebu-ode in 1906. Lagunju was
certainly a force to reckon with in the history of Islam in
Ede. He contributed to its growth more than any other
person of his time.
- Siyan Oyeweso
“The second progress registered during Timi Lagunju era
was that the subject town which paid obeisance to Ede increased. It was during this time that Ilorin conquered
old Offa, and the reigning Olofa took refuge in Ede,
where he was given a site now called Ofatedo (i.e the
Offa people colonized this place). Timi Abibu Sangolami
gave the then Olofa two hundred hoes, two hundred
cutlasses, two hundred baskets, and two hundred of
every instrument or household utensils in order to make
his new home easy to easy to settle in.
Thirdly, Ede gained a great deal of respect during this
period. In fact from the new outburst of the enthusiasm,
one would have thought that that Ede was just being
founded. Fourthly this Timi effectively checked all forms
of stealing and burglary… a few men having been made examples, all potential thieves were effectively checked.
- Olunlade (Ede local Historian)
A venerable and renowned Timi of Ede, (Lagunju) so well known all over the country as a gifted and trusted
historian of the Yoruba country.
- Rev. Samuel Johnson