Traditionalists in Ogun State have vowed to take the state’s chieftaincy law, which governs monarchy’s installation and burial rites, to court.
On Monday, Governor Dapo Abiodun signed the bill into law. Oba Sikiru Adetona, the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, started it in 2020.
The bill, titled “Obas, Chiefs, Council of Obas and Traditional Council law of Ogun State, Bill 2021,” aims to “respect human dignity and promote modernity” in traditional rulers’ installation and burial.
When a monarch dies, the law gives his or her family the power to choose the mode of burial.
While the bill was hailed as a “welcome development” by the Muslim community, traditionalists in the state opposed it, calling it a move to erode Yoruba cultures.
High Chief Ifasola Opeodu, the Oluwo of Iperu and Vice Chairman of Osugbo Remo Parapo, threatened to challenge the law in a competent court in Abeokuta yesterday.
“A dead man has no right under the law,” he argued.
Opeodu also stated that becoming a king is not by force, and that no Christian or Muslim should ever bury an Oba.
“A dead man has no legal rights,” he said. Any person who has died has lost all of his rights.
“The Obas’ right that they claim we are infringing on is invalid because a dead man has no right under the law.”
“Secondly, what we’re saying is that the Obaship institution is optional; we’re not forcing people to go, and we’re not saying they shouldn’t bury Obas; but, if you follow our argument, how can they now say Christians and Muslims should come and bury traditional heads?”
“If there is anything they do not want during their burials, they should say so, but traditionalists, not Christians, must bury Obas.”
“Why don’t they say that the monarchs should be installed by Christians or Muslims?” They aren’t saying anything about it. Without prejudice to traditionalists’ rights under customary law, the governor said.
“They’re all there,” says the narrator. We are not saying that Obas should not be buried, but they should not be buried by Christians or Muslims.”