Ekiti State Government has issued “administrative letters” to no fewer than 11 first class traditional rulers over alleged non-cooperation with government and leadership of the state traditional Council.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the memo, entitled: “Re-Absence from State Functions and Council of Traditional Rulers’ Monthly Meetings,” was issued to the affected monarchs, late on Wednesday, and given 72 hours, within which to explain themselves.
The letter accused the rulers of refusing to make themselves available at both state functions as well as monthly meetings of the State Council of Traditional Rulers, for about eight months, since August 2019.
The letter was signed on behalf of the government by the Permanent Secretary, Bureau of Chieftaincy Affairs, A. O. Adeoye.
The three paragraph letter, addressed separately to the traditional ruler, reads: “It has come to the attention of Mr Governor that Your Royal Majesty has not been attending the monthly statutory meetings of the State Council of Traditional Rulers and state official functions since August 2019.
“Your conspicuous absence at the council meetings and state official functions, without any excuse or justification is considered inimical to the proper administration of the chieftaincy institution you represent.
“Therefore, Mr Governor has directed that Your Royal Majesty should forward your representation for this inaction, through this office within 72 hours on the receipt of this letter.”
NAN learnt that the latest government action, sent jitters to some palaces, and traditional institutions, on Thursday, over insinuations that government might be preparing ground for suspension or outright deposition of the traditional rulers.
The letter climaxed an eight-month cold war between the affected traditional rulers and the governor.
It would be recalled that crisis began when last year, the governor appointed the Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti, Ajibade Alabi, as the new Chairman of the State Council of Traditional Rulers.
A development which did not go down well with the affected rulers, who considered the appointee, as junior to them and not deserving the office.
The group of traditional rulers, in showing grievances, had consequently dragged the governor to court to challenge the appointment, and also vowed not to cooperate or attend any meeting or function where the appointee is present or presides.
Meanwhile, Governor Kayode Fayemi, on Thursday, said he had no plans to dethrone any of the traditional rulers, served with administrative letters.
He said it was a mere “administrative letter”, and not a query, to explain why they had continually absented themselves from state functions and Traditional Rulers Council meetings within 72 hours.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Governor’s clarification was coming, apparently following palpable tension which the information concerning the letter had generated in some palaces and among their subjects.
Some of them thought the affected monarchs were already on the brink of being relieved of the throne.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Yinka Oyebode, in a statement obtained by NAN, in Ado Ekiti, also said only 11 of the monarchs received the administrative letters.
He said the Ekiti State Bureau of Chieftaincy Affairs is responsible for the coordination, management and welfare of the Traditional Council and its affairs.
“The Bureau briefed the Governor, on the prolonged absence of some members of the State’s Traditional Council meetings at state’s function and traditional council meetings at the local government level.
“Mr Governor directed that the Bureau should write the affected traditional rulers to find out reasons for their absence.
“The Attorney General then wrote to the Bureau on Mr Governor’s directives.
“Consequently, the Bureau (through a senior official), wrote to the affected traditional rulers seeking for reasons for their prolonged absence at council meetings.
“The formal nature of the letter is what is being misconstrued to be a query.
“Contrary to insinuations, this is merely an administrative matter which is neither contentious nor confrontational. It is definitely not a ploy or plan to remove any Oba (traditional ruler) from office.
“As public officers, our traditional rulers act as the direct link between government and their domains; they have expected duties and functions, and as an administrative head, Mr Governor should be aware of the reasons why such duties are not being carried out.
“It is on record that some of the Obas had earlier written Mr Governor to give legitimate reasons for their absence which have been accepted.
“In Ekiti State, our traditional rulers are well respected and revered as custodians of our culture and traditions.
“The Fayemi Administration is committed to the welfare and protection of the cultural heritage of our people which the Kabiyesis hold in trust.
“Any rumour claiming that Governor Fayemi is planning to dethrone any Oba in Ekiti State is a deliberate and malicious misrepresentation of the true situation.
“It is obviously an attempt from opposition to create chaos and confusion between the Ekiti State Government and the good and law abiding people of Ekiti State.
“The Governor holds all our traditional rulers in high esteem and reverence as expected of a well cultured person.
“No arm of government discussed nor considered dethroning any Kabiyesi at any time because there is no basis for such,” the governor’s statement reads.