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Burial rites: Abiodun signs new chiefs’ law

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The Ogun State Governor, Chief Dapo Abiodun, on Monday, signed into law a Bill that provides for how traditional rulers and chiefs are to be selected, appointed, recognised and buried.

The Bill was signed into law in the presence of the promoter of the Bill, the Awujale and Paramount Ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona; the Olu of Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle; the Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Ajayi while the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo was conspicuously absent.

Abiodun said it was imperative to review the existing law as the State could not have laws that are antiquated and contravene the fundamental rights of individual traditional rulers and what the state stands for.

Titled “A Bill for a Law to provide for an approved method for the selection, appointment and recognition of Obas and Chiefs in Ogun State and for Other Related Matters”, the law seeks to redefine the traditional institution to reflect the current realities.

Among other things, the law provides for the preservation, protection and exercise by Traditional Rulers of their fundamental rights to be installed and buried according to their religions or beliefs and for other related matters.

Traditionalists had opposed the law and declared that it was an attempt to push the cultural practice into extinction, but the Christian and the Muslim communities described the bill as “a welcome development.”

He said: “I believe that one of the unique things about this Law besides the fact that it is set out to improve the method for the selection of Obas and Chiefs, is the clarity that this law provides as it relate to the passage of our kabiyesis.

“This law seeks to improve on the previous existing Western Nigeria laws on where there had been ambiguity as it relate to how our kabiyesis will be buried. It states emphatically that the families of the respective Obas should have a say on how they are buried henceforth. It now allows the families to determine how our Obas will be interred and, of course, without prejudice to the traditional rites that are meant to be performed by the customary laws. Going forward, the families now have a say on how our royal fathers should be buried.”

Abiodun who described traditional institution headed by traditional rulers as the closest and oldest form of administration at the grassroots, noted that they had existed before the coming of the missionaries, assured that government would collaborate with them to deepen development in the grassroots, as they are reliable and dependable.

He appreciated the Awujale for his doggedness and persistent in seeing to the review of the law in line with the provision of the Constitution of Nigeria, as well as members of the House of Assembly for ensuring that the Bill went through rigorous exercise as it was subjected to public hearing because of interest people have on how Obas and Chiefs are appointed.

While noting that the law was another step towards building the future, the state helmsman said the State would continue to blaze the trail on laws that are in tandem with modern times and the socio-economic development, stressing laws that are antique and contravene what the State stand for would be reviewed.

In his remarks, Speaker of the Assembly, Rt. Hon. Kunle Oluomo said the bill passed through the toughest proceedings in the history of the House as it generated a lot of issues from members of the public, adding however the Lawmakers have done their bit to ensure that the Bill is in consonant with the nation’s constitution.

The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Oluwasina Ogungbade, said the law which is the first in the South-West of the country, was put in place to further make the traditional rulers contribute more to the development of the State, expressing the hope that it would be a template for other states to copy.

Oba Adetona, who was the Chairman of, Ogun State Council of Obas when the bill was initiated, said it was a great achievements for people as the Bill attracted a lot of attention from both Christians and Muslims. He commended the Governor and the Speaker for making it happen, appreciating the Almighty for keeping him alive to witness the development.

Olu of Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, said a lot has gone into the bill as things that were wrong as been put right, while the Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Ajayi, who is the current Chairman, Ogun State Council of Obas, said the bill goes beyond burial rites of Obas, as it has put many issues bordering on the traditional institution in the right perspective, expressing the hope that containing matters would be amicably resolved with the new law.

Other dignitaries at the event included the Deputy Speaker, Hon Akeem Balogun, Secretary to the State Government, Mr Tokunbo Talabi, Chief of Staff to the Governor, Alhaji Afolabi Salisu, Chief Economic Adviser to the Governor, Mr Dapo Okubadejo, and other cabinet members.

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