Some traditional rulers behind ritual killings in their domains — Oluwo Of Iwo
On May 7, 2019, at exactly 7.45 a.m., Palace Watch got an SMS from HRM Oba Adewale Abdul-Rasheed Akanbi Telu 1, the Oluwo of Iwo, and the message was “Africans, nay Nigerians are no devils. Yoruba as a people are blessed and our culture and tradition is the best. But what is required now is for all men of goodwill to advocate upgrading of all sectors of our cultural practices to make them more appealing. As a King, I will not stop until I help to make our cultural heritage and traditional values, the envy of the world.”Palace Watch then reached out to Oluwo of Iwo, who shared his thoughts on various national issues.
What brought about the message you sent?
The message arose from the pains I currently suffer over the damming issues of ritual killings, kidnapping and other worrisome crimes, which have continued to unsettle most Nigerians and foreigners alike. For how long will all these crimes be allowed to fester unattended to in our society?
This is not the type of society we inherited, and there is no way I will continue to keep quiet like most monarchs across the country over these very worrisome matters. I have resolved to continue with my advocacy over these issues. I know most traditional rulers, who are involved in all manner of rituals will not be happy with me and will not find my advocacy funny. I am, however, determined to ensure our children no longer die unnecessarily over ritual related matters, due to age-long ignorance of ritual killings by kings and their friends or allies.
The act is not only barbaric, but it is also wicked and unacceptable in any civilized setting. We must, therefore, do all within our powers as traditional rulers to make sure African gods or deities that require only human blood are no longer appeased.Just a little over 100 years ago, it was a great woman called Mary Slessor that fought so hard to stop killings of twins in some Nigerian societies because we ignorantly believed then that twins were devils. All twins in Nigeria should eulogise and celebrate Mary Slessor.
Nigerians are dying in thousands daily because of ritual killings. The case of Badoo in Lagos is one singular example of this evil. It is a very good example of money rituals, which have become the common practice in our society. Mind you, the practice is all about shedding of innocent blood. The situation has gotten so bad that children can no longer trust their parents and neighbours, due to societal craze and desperation for quick money.
As if this is not painful enough, most parents, guardians and other relatives are now in the habit of selling their wards and relatives into slavery to places like Italy, Libya, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. Some of these children are made sex slaves and in the process killed and unaccounted for.
Other high level crimes are daily committed, due to desperation of seeking greener pastures abroad, which is a mirage. Enough of this. Government must now begin to act and speak up against this type of crime. If not for President Muhammadu Buhari’s quick intervention, innocent blood would have been shed by Saudi Arabian government in the case of little Zainab Aliyu and the 81-year-old man, who were implicated by a desperate drug cartel at Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano. Their lives would have been wasted just like that.
With this type of crime, what precedent are we showing our children, especially the youths? All traditional rulers of good conscience should henceforth rise up and do all within their powers to rid the society of these elements, especially those residing in their domains. They should deliberately continue to do all within their powers to assist law enforcement agents to arrest these elements, no matter how wealthy they are. They are not good examples to any society.
It might not be palatable to most traditional rulers across Africa,especially Nigeria and Yoruba land. But we must henceforth learn to do away with traditional and cultural practices that encourage these types of inhuman practices. We as traditional rulers need to show love and compassion at any given time.
We need to change what we met our forefathers ignorantly doing to harm our society. Such acts are not culture or tradition; they are simply evil that we must do away with. And once we do this, Africa will no longer be regarded as backward and evil by others, especially European countries.
My prayer, therefore, is that any traditional ruler, especially my fellow Obas, who find it difficult supporting this type of noble act of preserving innocent lives, his family members should also experience the pains family members of victims of ritual killings, kidnappings and other violent crimes currently ravaging our society suffer.
The principal reason for placing this curse is simple. There is a common adage in Yoruba land, which says, “The elderly can’t be around and watch helplessly as children go astray or die recklessly in their presence.” Traditional rulers by our customs and traditions, no matter their age, are the elderly in any society. They, therefore, have a role to play to help stem this ugly trend that is not helping our society in any way or form.
We are kings, so we must see everyone in our society as our children, especially the very young and vulnerable. Sadly, as we speak, no traditional ruler, as far as I know in Nigeria, is speaking against ritual killing, which is gradually becoming a norm in our present day society. If I may ask again, why are all these things going on and no king is talking about them? Are some of our kings part of these ugly game? Some kings justify so many ugly things pertaining to ritual killings in the name of customs and traditions. What culture and tradition are they talking about?
I honestly expect my fellow Yoruba Obas to have learnt a lesson or two from the Efon Alaye king, who was hanged sometime in the 60s or early 70s for his complicity in the killing of a young child in the name of rituals.Ritualism is not culture or tradition, as far as I am concerned. That particular incident showed clearly that some of our Yoruba Obas are part of this nonsense. The Efon Alaye Oba was caught, but what about other kings, who are still doing these things and have not been caught? Is it right and proper? We are all sitting down looking in the name of culture, while they are busy killing our children.
And some people call such terrible barbaric acts culture and tradition? It was these types of acts that gave impetus to the money rituals that are almost becoming a norm in our present day society. When will they stop?All these happenings around African countries are contributing to our lack of progress. Mind you, any country that does all these things will never be at peace with itself. These are simply natural reactions that come without any curse. These ugly acts naturally recycle themselves and come with karma. People still have the erroneous belief that karma will never come. Then let’s wait and see, if they don’t stop henceforth, what will happen to them and their generations yet unborn.
I know these comments will unsettle many kings, still involved in all manner of ritual killings. They will hate me more, but I honestly don’t care about how they feel. If this nonsense is not stopped forthwith, what kind of future are we laying down for our children and generations coming after us?
Why do you think Law enforcement agencies, particularly the Police seem helpless?
How can the police uncover the crimes, if people are not willing to cooperate with them? Police need lots of information to work with, and the people are not forthcoming with such information, just because they have been hoodwinked in name of culture and tradition.
Just recently, an Oba in the Southwest was to be buried, women were particularly warned not to stray into the town during late hours, otherwise they would be killed. Assuming an illiterate lady that can’t read and write get stranded in that town, what is the guarantee that the innocent lady who is just going about her business would not be killed, to justify one nonsense culture and tradition? Which culture or tradition says that a king or his people should illegally take the life of another person they did not help to create?
With this position, most traditional rulers across the country, especially your fellow Obas from the Southwest, will see you as a rebel. Does this not bother you?
I don’t care what they think of me, I am only after the truth. Will I say because of what other Obas, who are mere mortals like me think or say about me, I should not speak against the barbaric acts they are involved in, and which are not helping society? If we choose to keep quiet, what are kings for? What are leaders for? What are the roles of traditional rulers in helping to make society a better place?
My friend, people are free to use their mouths anyhow they like. I am for the truth and will never leave that path, which is pleasing to the Almighty Allah. Nigeria is just like the personal domain of every king. Once traditional rulers begin to genuinely speak against these evils, people involved in these acts will no longer have the liver to continue with their acts. And with this position, the entire country will become safer for all of us.
What is the way forward and how do we stop all these acts?
Our message goes out daily to the Obas and kings involved in these ugly acts, but they are not ready to change. The few of us that believe in the truth and the betterment of society will force them to quit the acts that do no one any good. Their alibi is that they inherited these customs from their forefathers, but they fail to realise that their forefathers were not living in a civilized and enlightened society, such as the one we have today.
Most of these secret cults that require human sacrifice, which some of our kings and their people cued into, were never founded by kings. The association founded by kings as a group, is the Assembly of traditional rulers, which is called Council of Traditional rulers in states and local government and the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria at the national level.
Indeed, these groups are voluntary associations of kings across the country, where the welfare and well-being of kings are discussed alongside other issues of national importance. These groups or bodies do not demand any form of sacrifice nor human blood or that of an animal.
So, I am henceforth advocating that we now have bodies that should be known and called for example, the “Yoruba Council of Oba,” an assemblage where all Yoruba speaking Obas should sit down once in a long while and discuss matters concerning the Yoruba nation generally. Similarly, we should have Ijaw Council of Obas, Igbo Council of Obis or Eze, and the Hausa Fulani Council of Emirs.
These groups should be able to meet separately at different times, compare notes about things happening around their areas that are bothering them, and then bring such before the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria. Please, try to get the point I am pushing here. These Yoruba, Ijaw, Igbos and Hausa Fulani Councils of Kings do not in any way invalidate all other existing councils in the Local Government Areas and the states across the country, which meet more frequently than the one I am proposing, which will only meet in a very long while.
If government wants the security situation in the country to improve drastically, it must henceforth learn to empower traditional rulers and traditional institutions. No security system can impact on the ordinary people without the cooperation and collaboration of traditional rulers across the country.
Are you comfortable with the level of funding for traditional institutions by government?
Nice to know that efforts are now being made by the Federal Government to channel Local Government Areas’ allocation to them directly. But much as this move is applauded, it will not help the present security situation in the country. The Obas, Obis and Emirs are the Chief Security Officers (CSO) in their domains.
If this is true, then the kings need to be funded. The Federal Government should make provision for a special budgetary allocation for traditional rulers to deal with security needs. This is the way to go. Oftentimes, the kings that are not funded by government are the ones supporting and providing funds and other logistics for the police to fight crimes in their domains.
The Nigeria Police can hardly do anything meaningful without the kings’ cooperation. Honestly, the salaries of Obas, Obis and Emirs are nothing to write home about. If I tell you the monthly salary of a First Class Oba in the Southwest, especially in Osun State where I am, you will be ashamed and scandalised. Yet, so much is expected from these kings. The North is slightly better, but it is still not enough.
Once the government at the centre begins to offer reasonable resources to kings across the country, and they are legislatively empowered to take some actions and decisions, things will naturally improve security-wise across the country. Most criminals see kings as toothless bulldogs that can do little or nothing.
When a king wants to correct criminals in their domains, they go to court, saying the king does not have the power to do this or that to them. But if kings are given some legal backing, most criminals will run away from their domains or decide to behave themselves. Criminals are not ghosts, but there is little or nothing a king can do the way things are now.The government should, as a matter of urgency, formulate policies to criminalise some of these practices. Some kings are hiding behind ritual killings to commit all sorts of atrocities. These acts are nothing but cultural corruption.