Uncovered: Extant law on appointment of new Soun that may prove a hardnut to crack

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Ogbomoso is in frenzy as the city anxiously awaits the announcement of a new Oba, the Soun, following the passage of the last traditional ruler, Oba Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III JP CON CFR, to the great beyond on December 12, 2021.
The next family to produce the new monarch, Laoye Ruling House, had been called upon to nominate candidates for the vacant position, from whom the kingmakers are expected to make a choice.
According to investigations, over ten candidates had emerged after more than 20 aspirants were interviewed by a panel set up by the family.
A family source told The Insight that the aspirants were given opportunities to present their manifestos individually at an event held at the Ogunlola Hall, Oja’gbo, Ogbomoso, during which 11 from among the original who bought expression of interest forms and 7 others participated.
The exercise was supervised by top personnel of Ogbomoso North local government led by the Head of Local Government Administration (HLA).
It was gathered that those who failed to purchase expression of interest forms (sold at N250, 000 each) were given the chance to join the race to foreclose allegation of wilful denial in the future that might be a ground for antagonism and litigations.
It is further learnt that both the family and the local government had submitted their independent reports on the interview session to the kingmakers led by the Areago, High Chief Sobaloju Otolorin.
To hasten the process, a meeting of stakeholders constituted by a section of Ogbomoso elites was also held on February 19 at the residence of the president of Egbe Omo Ogbomoso Parapo Agbaaye, Hon Justice Afolabi Adeniran, during which the Laoye ruling house was charged through a memo to expedite action on the process and to follow due and transparent process.
The meeting chaired by the triumvirate leadership of Afolabi Adeniran, Dr Saka Balogun and Gen Oladayo Popoola (rtd), included other eminent personalities like Professor Adesola Adepoju, Alhaji Monsur Ejide, Hon Michael Abioye, Alhaji Bello Saka, Barrister Dapo Atanda (who attended in his personal capacity and represented Senator Ayo Adeseun), Air Vice Marshal Bolaji Adigun (rtd), Mr. A.A. Ajeigbe, Comrade T.M. Balogun, Alhaji Bukola Badmus and members of the Ilus (kingmakers)..
The meeting gave Hon Justice Adeniran the mandate to communicate the Laoye ruling house to forward whatever names they have to the appropriate quarters i.e. the Ilus for screening, which have the power to screen ab initio.
It is expected that the process will be concluded any time from now and the name of the new monarch sent to the Oyo state governor Engr Seyi Makinde for ratification and announcement.
However, The Insight had unearthed an extant law (1953 amendment) on the appointment of a new Soun.
The law states in clear terms the procedure to follow in the appointment of a new Soun.
The law which appears in the Annual Volume of the Legislation of the Western Region of Nigeria 1953.containing the laws of the Western Region of Nigeria for 1953 and subsidiary legislation made in 1953 in respect of the Western Region of Nigeria under the Laws of Nigeria and of the Western Region.
According to the extant law only a direct son or grandson of a past Soun could succeed to the throne.
It also affirms in explicit terms the rotational order of the ruling houses.
The Insight reproduces the law here:
“W.R. Public Notice No. 24 of 1953
WHEREAS it is provided in sub-section (2) of section 30 of the Native Authority Ordinance (Cap. 140) that a native authority may if it considers it expedient for the good government and welfare of the area of its authority submit for the consideration of any native law or custom:
AND WHEREAS the Ogbomosho District Native Authority has declared that the method for selecting a Bale for Ogbomosho is governed by native law and custom and by the decisions of the various Court actions which preceded the appointment of the late Bale and in particular by the Privy Council judgment which accepted that only a son of a previous Hale could succeed:
AND WHEREAS the Native Authority Council reaffirm and declare that the selection and the appointment of a Bale (henceforth to be known styled and designated as a Shoun) have from time immemorial been strictly rotational among the recognised five ruling houses (whose family names changed from time to time) in the following order :
(a) Elepo, (6) Layode, (e) Itabiyi, (d) Oyewumi, (e) Olaoye. and that the said strict rotational order shall continue:
AND WHEREAS the Ogbomosho District Native Authority having in mind certain difficulties which have from time to time arisen under the existing customary method as hereinbefore set out and deeming it expedient for the good government and welfare of the area, has by resolution submitted for the consideration of the Lieutenant-Governor a recommendation that henceforth any fit male member of any of the recognised ruling houses is eligible to become Bale (Shoun) of Ogbomosho provided he is a son or a grandson of a previous Bale of Ogbomosho, and provided it is the turn of the recognised ruling house to which such a fit male person belongs :
AND WHEREAS the Ogbomosho District Native Authority in order to regularise a selection of a Shoun has recommended that on demise of a Shoun or Bale, written applications should be sent by candidates for the stool to the eldest member of the ruling house concerned within thirty days, such applications to be in duplicate, one copy to such eldest member of the ruling house and another copy to the King Makers and the Council; and that after the specified period, the members of the ruling house concerned should meet and consider the applications and forward their recommendations through the Arcomole to the King Makers and Native Authority Council which King Makers and Native Authority Council shall have the right to accept or reject the recommendations of the family and to select from the list of applicants any candidate they deem to be fit and proper having regard to the best interests of the Community:
AND WHEREAS the Native Authority Council affirm and declare the following who are also members of the said Native Authority as King Makers —
(a) Areago, (b) Ikolaba, (e) Bara, (d) Balogun, (e) Jagun, (f) Abesse; and that the aforesaid King Makers are the appropriate chiefs empowered by tradition to perform the ceremonial rites in connection with the installation of a Shoun after his selection and appointment by the King Makers and the Native Authority Council:
AND WHEREAS the Lieutenant-Governor is satisfied that such declaration accurately records the native law or custom with respect to the subject to which it relates and that such modification is expedient and that neither such native law and custom nor such modification is repugnant to justice, equity or good conscience nor incompatible either in its terms or by necessary, implication with any Ordinance or Law:
NOW THEREFORE, in exercise of the powers conferred upon him by sub-section (3) of section 30 of the Native Authority Ordinance, the Lieutenant-Governor directs and it is hereby directed that the modifications set out in the recitals above shall henceforth, in the event of a dispute in the house concerned, be the customary method of selecting a Shoun for Ogbomosho.
The Lieutenant-Governor also directs that in accordance with a resolution of the Ogbomosho District Council the title of the Bale shall be changed to that of Shoun of Ogbomosho.1953
Dated this 11th day of February, .
By His Honour’s command,
Acting Civil Secretary, Western Region
Secretariat, Western Region, Ibadan.
In the meantime it is not clear who and who meet this stringent criterion of the successor to the exalted throne of Soun being a direct son or grandson of a former Soun.
If none meets the criterion in view of long reigns being witnessed in the contemporary times which may make it difficult to have either a direct son or grandson of a former monarch, how will the kingmakers proceed?
This is a lacuna that must be resolved to avoid subsequent litigations over succession to the throne.


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