By Ndubuisi Michaels
A civil rights organisation, under the aegis of Coalition of Public Interest Lawyers and Advocates (COPA), has faulted the suspension of the Oluwo of Iwo Land, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi by the Osun State Council of Traditional Rulers (OSCTR), describing it as “weightless and unknown to any law in Nigeria.”
The coalition likened the scenario to the suspension of a governor by the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) “which has the implication of staying his rights and privileges as it relates to the NGF and not as it relates to his power, rights and duties as governor of his state.”
The organisation said that since the ground for the suspension was on his alleged conflict with the Ooni of Ife, Alaafin of Oyo, Alake of Egba Land, amongst others, “this goes to show that the said decision is borne out of class struggle.”
“Therefore Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi, the Oluwo of Iwo remains the King while the announced suspension in our humble opinion is a mere media advocacy against the monarch. I expect the Oluwo of Iwo to endeavour to build bridges with his colleagues now”, COPA stressed.
The convener of COPA, Pelumi Olajengbesi, in a statement issued in Abuja on Saturday said OSCTR “cannot lawfully exercise a power it does not have.”
He however explained that the position was not in anyway an endorsement of the probity or otherwise of the allegations levelled against the Royal father.
According to him, while it could be set down for argument that the OSCTR could, in their rights, suspend a King from participating in their council meetings or activities, that must not be construed to import that the traditional authority over a King’s subjects could be eroded by such council as publicly reported in the media.
“This is in view of the fact that the procedure for ascension and removal from the throne is governed by the rule of law which does not empower the council to enthrone, dethrone or suspend any traditional ruler”, Olajengbesi stated.
He said, “Since it is not within the exclusive or implied powers or discretion of the traditional rulers in council to appoint a traditional ruler, it can therefore not be within their powers to suspend any traditional ruler.
“It is my considered opinion that the suspension of a monarch by any traditional council is weightless and unknown to any law in Nigeria…
It is a given that issues of royal institutions must be handled with utmost decorum and decency. In every town or land, more particularly in Yoruba Land, a monarch can only be appointed and removed in line with the strict laws of the respective States.
“The Oluwo of Iwo is first, a paramount ruler of the Iwo Land, and hence cannot be suspended from the throne by any group of traditional rulers acting in concert or by any other community save by the State government acting in compliance with the laid down procedure for his removal as enshrined in the State Law.
“It must be well noted that the membership of the Oba Oluwo of Iwo in the Osun State traditional council did not emanate from the council purporting to suspend him but stems from the fact of his being the Oluwo of Iwo Land and as such the Council cannot divest or put in abeyance membership of a Council they did not confer on him.
“Any traditional ruler can disagree with another traditional ruler no matter how well placed such a ruler is when it comes to issues of protecting their heritage, stools, history and values of their land, and it behoves the government to intervene and help resolve such differences.
“Some of these traditional rulers have dispute deeply rooted in their history and even when they live together peacefully with the coming of civilisation, the history cannot be taken away.”
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