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How military regimes caused insecurity, others, by monarchs

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Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar


• Demand constitutional recognition

Traditional rulers have linked the incessant insecurity and other vices in the country to regimes of Generals Aguiyi Ironsi, Yakubu Gowon and Olusegun Obasanjo which stripped monarchs of some powers and did not give them any constitutional role.

Chairman of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, said the Ironsi’s 1966 Unitary Government Decree and Gowon’s and Obasanjo’s 1967 and 1976 Local Government Reforms Decrees, stripped traditional rulers of their powers and gave the same to local government authorities.

“The society was, at that time, progressive, peaceful, decent and full of beautiful traditions and cultures. Life and property were safe, accountability and honesty were the hallmarks of the traditional institution.

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“The stripping of traditional rulers of their powers and vesting it in the local government gave birth to the present day outrageous social vices, insecurity of life and property and corruption.

“However, prior to these decrees, the colonial masters needed the institution because of their indirect rule, politicians needed the institution to stabilise their domains. The traditional rulers were always at hand to douse any conflict and the military needed the institution to gain credibility.

“The decrees resulted in insecurity and corruption currently facing the country,” Sultan said in Abuja at a meeting with the steering committee of the Senate on constitution review.

Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, who represented Sultan, said: “Constitutionally and protocol wise, traditional rulers have been relegated to the background. All the respective levels of government needed them to maintain peace and security as traditional rulers were always at hand to douse conflict that the police, military and government officials could not contain.

“Currently, traditional rulers do not have constitutional or other legal backings to perform effectively as they are not even mentioned in the 1999 Constitution. This is a great departure from all earlier constitutions that recognised them, and even gave them some functions to perform.

“Indeed, all the earlier constitutions gave the chairmen of the states, councils of chiefs seats in the National Council of State, alongside former presidents and chief justices.”

The monarchs, therefore, demanded that the constitution be amended to give the traditional institution a unique constitutional recognition, noting that no community or nation would thrive successfully without due consideration of its historical evolution, customs, values and beliefs.

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