A call has gone to lawmakers in the Houses of Assembly throughout Nigeria to repeal dethronement clauses in the laws of their respective states. According to the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) which made the call, this will make it impossible for governors to depose traditional rulers.
The call was made in a statement to the media signed by the group’s Executive Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Wednesday, 4th October, 2023.
The statement reads :
“Past and recent events command attention to the plight of traditional rulers in Nigeria. Some of them have been deposed. Others were harassed, intimidated and humiliated. All these happened because the traditional stool has been weakened by politicians.
“Among those dethroned were the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Adeyemi Adeniran. He was deposed in 1955 by Chief Obafemi Awolowo for hobnobbing with an opposition political party. The Olowo of Owo, Sir Olateru Olagbegi, was removed in 1969 by Governor Adeyinka Adebayo.
“The former Sultan of Sokoto, Ibrahim Dasuki was dethroned and banned from the sultanate on 20th April, 1996. Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was also deposed and banished from the city on 9th March 2020 by former Kano Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. The governor of Anambra State also recently deposed three traditional rulers. It is therefore not peculiar to any region.
“This obnoxious and tyrannical practice has been made possible by extant laws in the system. Examples of such draconian laws are Section 38 of the Obas and Chiefs Law of Lagos State, Section 6 Cap 26 of the Laws of Northern Nigeria and Section 13 of the Kano Emirates Council Law 2019. These draconian laws empower the governors to depose, suspend and banish Obas, Obis, Emirs, etc. These laws must be abrogated.
“Yet the laws can be traced to the colonial days. The colonial master used the kings as remote control buttons for the indigenous people of Nigeria. They knew that the kings were highly respected by the people and that they could control the people if they could wield influence on their kings.
“That was the raison d’etre for enacting ordinances that would give them the power to remove any king who refused to dance to their tune. That explains how King Jaja of Opobo, King Nana Olomu and Ovonramwen of Benin were unceremoniously removed during the colonial era. Other traditional rulers quickly took the cue. It is this pernicious policy that Nigerian politicians inherited and decided to pursue after independence in 1960.
“MURIC believes that true independence should mean freedom from all colonial traits. The continued subjection of traditional rulers to the colonial practice of disgracing traditional rulers is therefore a neo-imperialist practice that must be stopped by all true nationalists and genuine patriots.
“Islamic liberation theology teaches total freedom from all forms of oppression and persecution, whether they are political, social, economic, cultural or educational. This is entailed in the message of freedom brought by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who told mankind, ‘You are all equal like the teeth of a comb…’ Nigeria’s traditional rulers are among those whom the Glorious Qur’an commanded us to obey because their position is recognized by Allah (4:59; 3:26).
“Nigerians should realize the implications of the power of the governor to dethrone their kings. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo recently demonstrated the denigrating effect when he commanded Yoruba Obas to ‘Stand up, sit down’.
“Nigerian governors also have the tendency to brandish arbitrary power over the kings and their kingdoms with devastating effects on the subjects. Examples are the balkanization of the Kano emirate by the former governor, Ganduje. The same thing was done by Governors Isiaka Ajimobi and Seyi Makinde in Ibadan. They compartmentalized the kingdom into 21 serfdoms.
“Our traditional rulers who are the encapsulation of our tradition, our norms and values have been cowed to submission through the instrumentality of legislation. The colonialists used ordinances and sheer military power to coerce them to submission. But today’s politicians used laws enacted in the state houses of assembly to place the governors above them. Now the traditional rulers can no longer breath. The ‘Stand up, Sit down’ incident was just a wakeup call.
“MURIC charges Nigerian lawmakers in the state houses of Assembly to take a critical look at the laws which enable the governors to ridicule traditional rulers with a view to repealing them. The independence which we celebrate annually will remain meaningless if we fail to jettison colonial ordinances and neo-colonial laws which make a mockery of our traditional institution.
“This does not mean that overzealous and bad traditional rulers cannot be checkmated. Every kingdom in Nigeria has kingmakers with inbuilt traditional mechanisms to act as checks and balances over the monarchy when necessary. But politicians must be stopped from breathing down the necks of kings.
“The roll of the state governors will become merely ceremonial once the dethronement laws have been abrogated. The kingmakers will pick the king without any input from the governor, while the governor will only attend the installation ceremony as an official witness. This is the only way to emancipate the traditional rulers from the vicious grip of state governors and politicians”.