The Ogun State Traditional Rulers (Installation and Burial Rites) Bill 2020 has scaled the second reading at the State House of Assembly.
The bill seeks respect for human dignity and promotion of modernity in the installation and burial of traditional rulers.
The proposed legal framework, if finally passed into law, is expected to curb idolatry practices in the process of installing and burying traditional rulers.
This means there would be room for any deceased monarch in the state to be installed or buried in accordance with his or her religion or belief.
The lawmakers, on Tuesday, spoke in unison, while contributing to the second reading of the Ogun State Traditional Rulers (Installation and Burial Rites), Law 2020, during a plenary presided over by the Speaker, Olakunle Oluomo.
This came shortly after the motion for its second reading was moved by Akeem Balogun, seconded by Yusuf Amosun and unanimously supported by the entire House through a voice vote.
The sponsor of the bill, Mr Balogun, opened debate on the bill titled, “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.”
He said the bill became imperative because there is a need to avoid archaic practices and embrace modern realities with a view to respecting the religious obligations of the traditional rulers during their installation and burial.
In their separate remarks, Oludaisi Elemide, Solomon Osho and Damilola Soneye who threw their weight behind the bill, said its passage would further redefine the state’s traditional system by putting a stop to act of cannibalism- a culture inherited from the dark ages.
Other members, including Kemi Oduwole, Atinuke Bello and Abayomi Fasuwa, also cited Sections 34(1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) as the basis for upholding human dignity.
The lawmakers said that it was high time the traditional stools were made more attractive to the positive-minded citizenry of high pedigree, whose wealth of expertise could improve and bring development to their communities.
The Speaker, in his response, stated that no person, especially a traditional ruler, should be subjected to any form of inhuman and degrading acts.
He thereafter referred the bill to the Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs for further legislative actions.
An age-long secret practice
In 2017, the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, set up a committee on Ijebu Obas’ burial rites.
The move was a response to a tradition in Ijebuland, where corpses of traditional rulers are hijacked by traditional worshippers, otherwise called ‘Osugbos’.
The monarch, who said the actions of the traditional worshippers are an abomination, described members of Osugbo cult as bailiffs. He condemned their actions in strong terms.
The monarch said a resolution was agreed upon in December 28, 2016 to ensure that any king that joined his ancestors is given a befitting burial according to the faith such monarch practiced while alive.
“The funeral rites of Ogun State Traditional Monarchs (all Obas) remain a secret, a taboo subject,” wrote Alderman Erelu Lola Ayonrinde, in a 2014.
She also added that the sensitive and controversial issue requires a law to give all Monarchs the right to opt-out of customary rituals during installation and funeral rites.
According to the writer, it would also curtail the powers of the “ritualists – Afobajes, Odis, slaves, and Abobakus, who once upon a time would have buried whole with my late Kabiyesi.”