The Olugbon of Orile-Igbon, who is the Vice Chairman of the Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs, Oba Francis Alao, has called for caution on the proposed amendment of the Chiefs Law of Oyo State.
The monarch made the call in a memorandum he submitted to the public hearing by the Oyo State House of Assembly on the proposed amendment.
Described as his official position on the proposed amendment, the paramount ruler of Orile-Igbon noted that the amendment may be a recipe for unnecessary communal clashes and border disputes, pointing out that the proposal does not take the customs and traditions of the people into consideration
The amendment seeks to empower the governor of Oyo State to elevate some chiefs traditional rulers to bead-wearing obas if the council of obas and chiefs does not meet to consider their elevation. Hitherto, only the council is empowered to deliberate and do the promotion but it is subject to the approval of the governor.
However, the inability of the council to meet due to litigations over the issue of permanent chairmanship has been delaying several promotions to higher class and approval of beaded crowns for some thrones.
But Oba Alao cautioned against giving the governor an unrestricted power to elevate traditional rulers and chiefs without a recourse to the council of obas.
To avoid such a situation, which he posited is capable of causing communal clashes and border disputes, the monarch recommended that “in order to preserve our cultural heritage, a provision/clause be inserted into the amendment to provide that “elevation under this law shall only be applicable during any period where the Council of Obas is unable to hold deliberations for any reason whatsoever.
“A further provision/clause should be inserted to read that ‘persons who are elevated to beaded-crown and coronet-wearing status after the passage of this law shall continue to pay customary obeisance to their prescribed/consenting authority.”
The monarch added: “In order to preserve the many years of harmonious and peaceful coexistence in the various communities in the state, another provision be added to read that Baales/Minor Chiefs who are initially customary tenants and are promoted under this law shall not lay claim to ownership of ancestral lands held in trust for their sovereign”
The review of chieftaincy laws has become a sensitive issue in the state.
The late governor Abiola Ajimobi ran into troubled waters when he elevated Ibadan high chiefs to obas in 2017.