Events in the country relating to abduction and killing of monarchs have brought to the fore the need to curb the wave of insecurity sweeping across Nigeria. Recently, there was a news report of yet another kidnapping episode involving a monarch from Plateau State, His Royal, David Isa, who is the traditional ruler of Long Dorok Chiefdom in Shendam Local Government Area. Unfortunately, security agents are yet to ascertain the whereabouts of the abducted ruler and are now combing every nook and cranny of the state in an effort to rescue him.
The kidnapping of Agom Adara, Dr Maiwada Raphael Galadima, on Friday September 19, 2018 and his subsequent gruesome killing a week after by armed bandits in Kaduna State all reveal that traditional rulers are increasingly becoming endangered species. Before the killing of the Agom Adara, there was the killing of the Numana paramount ruler and the chairman of the Sanga Traditional Council, Dr Gambo Makama. Gunmen had on December 31, 2017 stormed his official residence in Gwantu and assassinated him, alongside his pregnant wife and two others. Despite assurances from agents of state to fish out his killers, the promise has remained only that. On January 2, 2018, the paramount ruler of the Bakulu Chiefdom and Agwom Akulu in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State, His Royal Highness Yohanna Sidi Kukah, was abducted by gunmen and taken to an unknown location. It took about 11 days of intense negotiations to free him from his captors.
The danger signals for monarchs did not start now; it has deep roots in the past where some monarchs were turned into pawns by various groups engaged in battle. The traditional ruler of Evwreni, Ovie Owin Kumani, was reportedly murdered by “irate youths” following a dispute over oil royalties in January 2000. The murdered monarch was the traditional ruler of an oil-producing community in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State. The community has about 14 oil wells, glow and compressor stations operated by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) which produce 15,000 barrels of crude daily from the area since 1996. In yet another murder of a monarch, a traditional ruler from Odo Oro Ekiti, Oba Gbadebo Ogunsakin, was killed on August 20, 2018 by someone described as mentally unstable. Though investigations are ongoing on the murder case, there is little hope that the self-confessed killer would offer useful insight into the circumstances of the killing.
Following incessant attacks on these monarchs, it is safe to state that there are forces plotting against these traditional rulers. As fathers of communities and symbols of traditions, attacks on them portend danger signals and aggravate the security situation plaguing the country. Against the backdrop of ceaseless threats on their lives, there is the urgent need by security agencies to rise up to the challenge of providing adequate safety to ensure their security.
When viewed against the implications of these killings and abductions, adequate measures should be put in place to forestall further threat to the lives of traditional rulers. Being traditional symbols of their communities, these monarchs should not be allowed to travel out of their domains without full security detail that can withstand the firepower of bandits.
As solution to tackling the problem of incessant killings and abductions of traditional rulers, it is the opinion of this newspaper that both the state and federal government should be involved in disputes and disagreements among various communities in the states with a view to resolving it in ways that will not expose the royal fathers to undue security risks to their persons and their families. It is the fallout of these internal bickering amongst communities and groups that often put the lives of monarchs at risk.
Despite assurances by agents of the state to bring to book those engaged in the despicable act, most of those alleged to be responsible for such hideous and reprehensible acts have not been brought to book. It is high time the state punished these killers and abductors of monarchs to serve as deterrent to future criminals. The government should go to any lenghth in order to arrest the constant threats to the life of the royal fathers by these murderers whose aim is to destroy society and engender overwhelming anarchy in otherwise peace loving communities.