Insecurity on the Throne of Regicide – Dr.Muiz Banire

Insecurity in Nigeria has assumed a new dimension. The crisis is not entirely new as the country has been, for a scary length of time, embroiled in the ugly spate of violence, blood-letting and unresolved murders. These three evils, in many cases, are associated with kidnapping for ransom but now it is becoming more threatening as it is assuming a mounting scale of regicide. Insecurity has overthrown our monarchs and is sitting on the regal thrones of our ancestors. Save for non-association of recent killing of kings with snatching of thrones in Nigeria, this ugly development across Nigeria has re-enacted the Shakespearean play Macbeth in which the theatre witnessed an over-vaulting ambition resulting into the killing of King Duncan by his subject and army general, Macbeth. To retain power in his lineage, Macbeth killed Banquo in a fit of envy and threatening divination.

The Yoruba say ifa owu jije kii fo’re: the oracle of envy speaks no good. The consequence was disastrous as Macbeth’s weak conscience could not bear the heavy burden of the evil he had perpetrated with the goading of his wife. By the time he realized the emptiness of the vanity he had pursued, the scale of his sin was beyond the balance. The volume of royal blood spilled by some agents of darkness in Nigeria recently is an affirmation of Macbeth’s cry that the blood on his hands were sufficient to stain the sea as he lamented “this my hand would rather, the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green sea red.” Ancient history in Nigeria was full of cases of regicide. Old Oyo Kingdom had many cases of royal murders. From Alaafin Aole, who was killed in the palace by his rampaging and revolting army under the leadership of the Generalissimo, Afonja, to Alaafins Olabisi, Awonbioju, Agboluaje and Majeogbe, the latter four or whom were all killed by their Prime Minister, Bashorun Gaa, the ancient throne of Oyo was terribly shaken at various times by those who were meant to protect it. With the advent of modern system of governance, it is reasonable to believe that there would not be a horrendous repeat of history that could lead to killing of Kings any more.

However, the past few weeks have proved man to be incapable of halting historical decline as we witnessed the killings of two Yoruba Obas in Ekiti State and one in Kwara State in January, 2024. Regicide has been defined as “the purposeful killing of a monarch or sovereign of a polity and is often associated with the usurpation of power.” A regicide can also refer to the person responsible for the killing. The word, regicide is said to have originated from two Latin words of “regis and cida (cidium), meaning “of monarch” and “killer” respectively”. The news media was in the past few days awash with reports of dastardly acts by unknown gunmen who attacked three Ekiti Kings as they were returning from a security meeting.

On the 29th day of January, 2024, the Elesun of Esun-Ekiti, Oba David Ogunsakin; the Onimojo of Imojo-Ekiti, Oba Samuel Olatunji, and the Alara of Ara-Ekiti, Oba Adebayo Fatoba, were said to be returning from a security meeting held somewhere in Irele-Ekiti on the evil day when humans in devil’s armour suddenly burst onto them from a thick forest and opened fire at them. The Onimojo of Imojo-Ekiti, and the Elesun of Esun-Ekiti were killed on the spot by the smoking gunfire of their assailants. The third monarch, Alara of Ara-Ekiti, was said to have escaped. Like animals, their Majesties were thrown on the ground with their blood watering the soil they were elevated to govern. The police have reported the arrests of a number of suspects from whom we understand that useful information is being extracted. They were said to have claimed to be herdsmen initially but none of them had a herd of cattle being pastured in any area close to the scene of their brutal crime. Dishearteningly, barely three days after the killing of the Ekiti monarchs, armed assailants declared war on the palace of Koro town in Ekiti Local Government Area of Kwara State.

They shot dead the traditional ruler of the town, Oba Segun Aremu. As if on a mission that was designed to be more than murder, they abducted the queen of the town and two other people. The Governors of the two States have vowed to find the killers and, I believe, are working dexterously to ensure these daring acts would not go unpunished. To establish a pattern, Punch report of 3rd February, 2024 compiled a narrative giving context to what is playing out to be an organized and purposeful target of monarchs. In November 2020, it was reported that “gunmen murdered a prominent traditional ruler in Ondo State, the Olufon of Ifon, Oba Israel Adeusi, at the Elegbeka community along the Ifon-Benin highway.
Oba Adeusi was said to be returning to his town from Akure, where he had gone for a meeting with other frontline traditional rulers when he was kidnapped and killed by bandits.” There is no report that the assailants and regicides have been arrested or punished for this gruesome murder. It is doubtful if there is going to be any punishment to assuage the relatives of the victim. A stakeholders’ meeting in October 2021 at Nnenasa in the Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State became a scepter of violence and bloodshed when unidentified gunmen attacked the royal assemblage, opened fire on the stakeholders and Eze E. A. Duruburuo, the Obi of Okwudor and Eze Sampson Osunwa of the Ihebinowere autonomous community fell victims of regicide in this unconscionable development.

The year 2022 recorded the brutal assassination and burning of the remains of the traditional ruler of Agodo village in Ewekoro, Ogun State, Oba Ayinde Odetola. His charred remains could not even be recognized by his subject by the time the assailants were done with their satanic mission. Later in December, 2022, the district head of Yankuzo, Alhaji Hamza Kogo, of Tsafe Emirate in Zamfara State, was recklessly killed during a failed attempt to kidnap him. The Punch report earlier mentioned also detailed the assassination in July 2023, of the traditional ruler of the Nguru community in the Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State, Eze James Nnamdi who was shot dead inside his purportedly sacred palace by some unknown gunmen.

Other cases of monarchical violations include the kidnapping of the Oba of Idofin, Shedrack Obibeni, and his wife, in the Yagba East Local Government Area of Kogi State barely a month after that of Eze Nnamdi. SBM Intelligence, a geopolitical research consultancy, in a 2021 report stated that between November 2011 and 2021, 53 traditional rulers were killed in various regicidal acts across Nigeria. The trend is mounting gradually as it is now a fad to attack and kill traditional rulers. It seems the ancient crowns have lost their powers and reverence. It seems the direction of insecurity in Nigeria is now targeting the privileged; the hitherto sacred men and mighty elements in our society. No killing is lawful except it is permitted by law. There must have been a legal process by which a person is pronounced a worthy candidate of death sentence. That is the hallmark of civilization but it seems the nation, Nigeria, is fast sliding down the envious height of humanity.

The number of unrecorded killings across the land on a daily basis is staggering. Of the ones that are recorded, however, according to data obtained and published by Tribune, in the year 2023, over 8,119 people were killed in over 4,326 violent events across Nigeria. SBM Intelligence, on November 1, stated that a total of 1,718 deaths were reported in 3 months between July to September, 2022. According to Vanguard of May 20, 2023, 98,083 people were killed in 12 years under the Buhari regime. Our own Gaza had been created in many parts of Nigeria for so long a time.

In many parts of the country, peace has not only become elusive, it has become a complete alien. For two horrendous nights between May 15 and 16, 2023, “Kubwat and Fungzai villages in Mangu Local Government Area, LGA, of Plateau State were killing fields. Terrorists unleashed mayhem on the villages, razing houses and foodstuffs, and killed no fewer than 100 persons mostly women and children.”

That was one incident among many which had become a normal way of life in some parts of the country. The government has been so castrated that it is unable to rein in these murderous elements in our midst. The leadership in the northern parts of the country seems to be torn between commitment to humanity and protection of personal interests of being in the saddle of governance in the country as guaranteed by the large number of voters that excessive procreation has provided for them.
They have not come out in one voice to condemn the spate of violence and killings in their midst which has made many permanent residents of internally displaced persons’ camps. Their Governors have been, on so many occasions, accused of conniving with bandits to kill the people they were elected to protect. Human lives have become mere switches that can be turned off at any moment. Now that the direction of terrorist killings has turned to the monarchs, it seems it will very soon get to our members in parliament and probably the men of the executives.

Terrorists have been sacking villages in the Middle Belt of the country for many years with the government paying lip service to their duty to provide security for the people. The former President, on an occasion, ordered the then Inspector General of Police to relocate to the Makurdi, the capital city of Benue State of Nigeria and the man looked sconfully at the presidential directive and ignored the impotent wizard in Aso Rock.

Probably, and probably so, when the victims are no longer the common men and women; when the endangered are the sacred cows in our corridors of power, the elite in government shall live up to their responsibility of guaranteeing peace and security without which there would be no country to govern. The ancient fable of a monarch, Oba Fadesere, plays stealthily into my consciousness. Any time the wolf snatched and devoured a subject’s ward in town, the revered monarch was fond of saying “oran lo”, which means tragedy has vanished.

The day the princess and sole heir of Oba Fadesere’s lineage fell victim of the gluttonous palate of the rampaging wolf, the distressed monarch cried “oran de” which means tragedy has come. He ordered all the powerful hunters in the kingdom into the forests including the forbidden evil forest to scout for and rescue his princess. Epa o b’oro mo.

The antidote failed in catching the poison, Oba Fadesere had rendered his lineage heirless. Those who are put in power should use it to protect all. The day power fails the people, it fails the holder.

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