A bill that will allow traditional rulers to be installed or buried after death according to their faiths which has gone through the second reading in the Ogun State House of Assembly has received the backing of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
The bill which is known as HB No 36/OG/2020- A Bill for a law to provide for the Preservation, Protection and Exercise by the traditional rulers of their fundamental Rights to be installed and buried according to their Religions or Beliefs and for other related matters is being sponsored by Hon Akeem Balogun, representing Ogun Waterside State Constituency.
In a press statement issued by MURIC on Tuesday, 7th July, 2020 and signed by its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, the human rights group described the bill as long overdue, consistent with the spirit of democracy and a sine qua non for freedom of religion.
The statement reads: “We hail Hon. Akeem Balogun for sponsoring the bill that will allow traditional rulers to be installed or buried after death according to their faith. We equally commend those lawmakers who supported it. This bill is long overdue, consistent with the spirit of democracy and a sine qua non for freedom of religion.
“The imposition of only one religion (i.e. traditional religion) during installation and burial on all Yoruba Obas is an infringement of their Allah-given fundamental human rights. It is like life imprisonment for them. Yoruba kings have the right to choose the manner of their installation and no one has the right to cut a king off his brethren in faith.
“Besides, the world is changing and Yorubaland cannot afford to maintain an archaic and anachronistic system particularly when such erodes the liberty to enter into covenant with one’s Lord regarding how he will rule his people and how he will meet his Lord in the Hereafter. These are fundamental issues which no homo sapien should be deprived of.
“In this regard, we commend traditional rulers who have expressed their opposition to the outdated system. For instance, the Awujale of Ijebu-Ode, Oba Sikiru Adetona, has rejected the old system and declared his desire to be buried according to his religion (Islam) whenever he dies. Oba Adedapo Tejuosho, the Osile of Oke-Ona Egba, has also been installing the Oluwo and other chiefs with anointing oil as a born again Christian.
“The proposed bill will emancipate such rulers from the Yoruba traditional system which is replete with monopoly and intolerance. It should be noted that many qualified candidates to the throne have avoided contesting for it because of their fear that it would make them do certain things which are inconsistent with their faith.
“We posit that if all the citizens in a city are subjects of the Oba; if the citizens belong to different faiths; if the Oba is to rule over all his subjects; then traditionalists have no right to impose their own faith alone on every Oba. These qualities of intolerance and imposition are self-evident in the way traditionalists declare curfews and forcefully recruit adherents to their faith.
“Whereas Chapter 4 Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) says inter alia, ‘Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom’, traditionalists are in the habit of ignoring this constitutional provision and imposing curfew arbitrarily.
“In law, only the state government on the advice of the state commissioner of police can impose curfew on a town. Even then, such imposition must be based on adverse security report. But traditionalists will not listen. They force everyone to stay indoor and disorganize social and economic activities at will. The lives of women in labour during such unlawful curfews are endangered while students who have examinations stand the risk of failure. The forceful conversion of children of their deceased members to the traditional faith is another ugly dimension which reveals their dictatorial propensity.
“MURIC therefore welcomes the new bill with open arms. It will clip the wings of traditionalists particularly their gymnastic religiousity. However, we charge law enforment agents to ensure that the bill operates successfully when it becomes law. It is one thing to enact a law but it is another thing to ensure that it is obeyed. Experience has shown that security agents have not summoned the courage to challenge traditionalists when the latter take the law into their hands. This is where the state government needs to watch. We also call on other states in the region to emulate the bold step taken by Ogun State.
“As we draw the curtain, we reiterate our positive position on the proposed bill to allow traditional rulers to be installed or buried according to their faiths. It is a major milestone in the democratization of rulership in Yoruba communities. Henceforth, law enforcement agents must deal with traditionists who impose illegal curfews. State assemblies in Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti should also introduce the same bill and pass it into law. Apart from being anachronistic, traditional system is characterised with tyranny, intolerance and dictatorship. It is time to liberate the kings and the citizenry in Yorubaland.”