- Will Eggon Be Caught Up By Doctrine of Necessity?
By Matthew Kuju
When the throne of the Aren Eggon became vacant in 1981 following the death of the then Aren Eggon, Alhaji Abdullahi Idde, the selection of a new Aren Eggon was done in accordance to the Law enacted for that purpose.
The then Plateau State Government via the then Secretary to State Government, Mr Samuel S. Gofwen, released a gazette on the stool of the Aren Eggon on 14th May 1981 but which came into effect from 8th May 1981, otherwise titled: P.S. Legal Notice No. 6 of 1981 – The Chiefs (Appointment and Deposition) Law (Cap. 20) – (Appointment of Aren Eggon) Order, 1981, which states thus:
“In the exercise of powers conferred by section 4 of the Chiefs (Appointment and Deposition) Law and of all other powers enabling in that behalf the following Order is hereby made by the Executive Council of Plateau State of Nigeria: –
“1. This Order may be cited as the Appointment and Deposition of Chiefs (Appointment of Aren Eggon) Order, 1981 and shall be deemed to have come into operation on the 8th day of May, 1981.”
As to who qualifies to contest for the stool of the Aren Eggon, the gazette states thus: “The Aren Eggon shall be elected from among the adult males of Eggon tribe.”
On the composition of the college of selectors of the Aren Eggon, the gazette captures it like this: “There shall be established an electoral college for the purpose of the selection of the Aren Eggon which shall consist of the persons holding the following offices, namely: –
“(a) Aren Alizaga; (b) Aren Bakyano; (c); Aren Umme; (d) Aren Arugbadu; (e) Aren Gale; (f) Aren Alogani; (g) Aren Ogbagi; (h) Aren Agunji; (i) Aren Wakama; (j) Aren Ezen; (k) Aren Arikpa; (l) Aren Ogba; (m) Aren Wana; (n) Aren Angbashu; (o) Aren Lizzin Keffi; (p) Aren Wulko; (q) Aren Alushi; (r) Aren Ikka; (s) Aren Ginda; (t) Aren Wangibi; (u) Aren Wolon; (v) Aren Lambaga.”
The gazette also talks about the Observer, Presiding officer and quorum during the selection process.
It states that: “(1) Whenever the office of the Aren Eggon shall be vacant, the Local Government Council shall summon a meeting within the Local Government Area of the Electoral College after giving notice of not less than seven days of its intention to summon such a meeting.
“2) The Secretary to the Local Government and a representative of the Local Government shall be in attendance as observers.
“(3) A person appointed by the Governor shall be in attendance as the Presiding Officer at such meeting.
“(4) Fourteen members of the Electoral College shall constitute a quorum at such meeting.”
On the nomination, the gazette says: “(1) The Presiding Officer shall issue nomination papers to each member of the Electoral College at the meeting and shall call for nomination of the candidates.
“(2) Nomination of candidates shall be to the Presiding Officer at the meeting.
“(3) No member of the Electoral College shall nominate himself.
“(4) If only one person is nominated, such person shall be deemed to be selected as the Aren Eggon, subject to the approval of the Governor after consultation with the Council of Chiefs.
“(5) If a member of the Electoral College is nominated and he agrees to stand for election, he shall lose his right to vote and shall vacate the Electoral College.
“(6) If a member of the Electoral College loses his voting right under sub-section (1) of this section, he shall not be replaced by another person and shall vacate the Electoral College.”
Discussing the election proper, the gazette states that “(1) If more than one person is nominated, the Presiding Officer shall conduct an election by secret ballot in which each member of the Electoral College present shall have one vote and the candidate who receives the largest number of votes shall be deemed to be selected to be the Aren Eggon subject to the approval of the Governor after consultation with the Council of Chiefs.
“(2) In the event of first or second tie, there shall be a fresh ballot held after an interval of seven days in each case in accordance with Sub-Section (1) of this section for the candidates who received the largest and equal number of votes.
“(3) In the event of third tie, the Presiding Officer shall forthwith decide between the candidates with the largest and equal number of votes by lot, and the candidate on whom the lot falls shall be deemed to be selected to be the Aren Eggon subject to the approval of the Governor after consultation with the Council of Chiefs.
“The Presiding Officer shall communicate the result of the election in writing within two days of such selection to the Governor for approval.”
According to Eggonnews findings, when the Aren Eggon, Alhaji Abdullahi Idde passed on in 1981, the gazette cited above was duly followed which saw the emergence of Dr Bala Abaine Angbazo JP MFR as Aren Eggon.
He was installed as First-Class Chief on Saturday 12th February, 1983 by the then First Executive Governor of Plateau State, Chief Solomon Daushep Lar (now Late) at Nassarawa Eggon.
During the selection process, the following substantive Village Heads formed the college of selectors: Mr Akyen Namo (Aren Wana), Mallam Yusufu Dauda (Aren Alogani), Mr Anzume Umbugadu (Aren Wakama), Mallam Ali Elle Gambo (Aren Agunji), Mr Agyo Agbu (Aren Umme) and Mr Otsona Kuje (Aren Wangibi).
Others were: Mallam Musa Aliyu Jatau (Aren Angbashu), Mr Agu Envulanza (Aren Lizzin Keffi), Mr Ajabogo (Aren Ekka), Mr Avre Ezu (Aren Walon), Mr Ombugadu Alla (Aren Ezzen) and Mr Ende Tsaku (Aren Wulko).
Also present were: Mr Azza Agbu (Aren Alizaga), Mr Ala Kuson (Aren Lambaga), Mr Male Najo (Aren Arikpa), Mr Ambaga Affi (Aren Ogba), Mallam Haruna Attah (Aren Ogbagi), Malam Adamu Ekpa (Aren Gale), Mallam Muhammadu Gama Ekka (Aren Bakyeno Kasa) and Mr Audu Egga (Aren Arugbadu).
Sadly, out of the twenty-two (22) Village Heads that actively participated in the selection process that saw the emergence of the present Aren Eggon, only one of them is alive! He is Alhaji Musa Aliyu Jatau II, who was then Aren Angbashu but is now the District Head of Mada Station.
All the seats of affected Village Areas are occupied by Wakilai, meaning, representatives.
Eggonnews findings further reveal that a representative, that is Wakili, cannot be part of college of selectors as the law does not recognise him in that regard.
By implication, in line with the law outlining the process of selecting an Aren Eggon, presently, the college of selectors cannot form quorum. The law stipulates that a quorum is formed by only at least fourteen Village Heads.
Eggonnews tried to establish the reason for the vacuum created by the demise of the village heads and why they have not been replaced by substantive Village Heads.
It should be recalled that in the year 2011, when the Aren Eggon, Dr Bala Abaine Angbazo JP MFR, clocked 30 years on the throne, Eggonnews had an interaction with him. One of the areas touched was on the depleting number of Aren Eggon kingmakers.
This is how the interaction which was published in Vol. 8 No. 5 July/August 2011 edition of Eggonnews went:
Let us look at the Chiefs of the villages. Presently, there are 22 village heads that make up the body of kingmakers of the Aren Eggon stool. But God has called most of them. They are no more. In these areas, we only have representatives of the village heads, that is the wakilai. What are you doing to fill in the seats that are vacant following the death of the former village heads?
Those representatives (wakilai) you referred to and you have been hearing about, they are in place of the village heads. They are mere representatives serving before we have the substantive village heads. Some of the wakilai (representatives) would be upgraded or confirmed as village heads. When you hear of wakili of a place, they are there temporarily before the substantive appointment of village heads. All the areas whose village heads have not been confirmed or that do not have substantive village heads, it is just because we are yet to receive permission or approval from the government. It is the government that will give us the go-ahead. Once I get the approval, I will confirm or get the substantive village heads who make up the college of kingmakers.
But some people in some areas are saying the wakilai (representatives) so appointed are not the ones they chose. They are saying that it is the Aren Eggon that imposed the wakilai on them, that they were not given the free chance to select the persons to serve as wakilai pending the confirmation or appointment of substantive village heads. What do you have to say about that?
People are difficult to deal with. There is no way you will do anything without criticisms, some of which are baseless. Most of the people who say so are those who contested or want to contest for the stool. They are the ones who make such statements.
We do not select wakili here in the palace. Those who select wakili are there. It is the ward heads that select the wakili, after which they forward the name of the wakili. I then accept.
I do not select a wakili. It is the ward heads who will say this is the person to serve as wakili for us. When they give me, I will forward the name to government.
As things are, are you planning to notify or request the government to grant you the approval on the wakilai to be made village heads?
It is already before the government. All the names are before the government. The request is before them to grant me the permission to install or confirm them as village heads.
However, it was to address such circumstances prevailing in Eggon land and other parts of Nasarawa State that there has been an amendment to the Local Government Law 2009. The Principal Law (N.S. Legal Notice No. 5 of 2009 – A Law to Provide for the Establishment, Structure, Composition, Finance and Functions of Local Government System in Nasarawa State, Section 55 states that:
“Upon the death, resignation or deposition of an emir or Chief other than any kind of emir of Chief referred to in Section 56 of this Law, the Governor shall subject to the provisions of Section 59 of this Law approve as the successor of such Emir or Chief as the case may be, any person appointed in that behalf by those entitled by native Law and custom so to appoint in accordance with the native Law and Custom.”
However, the amended law in 2018 states thus:
A Law to Amend the Nasarawa State Local Government Law 2009 as (Amended 2018) Law.
Legal Notice No. 1 of 2018
Enacted by the Nasarawa State House of Assembly and by the Authority of same as follows:
- This Law may be cited as the Nasarawa State Local Government (Amendment) Law 2018 and shall come into effect on the 15th March, 2018.
- The Nasarawa State Local Government Law 2909 (hereinafter referred to as ‘The Principal Law’) is amended as follows:
Section 55 of The Principal Law is amended by substituting same for a new Section “55 subsection 1, 2 and 3” as follows:
55(1) the selection of an Emir or Chief pursuant to Section 55(1) of this Law shall be carried out by the Electoral College pursuant to the respective Native Law and Custom but in the event where it is impossible for the quorum to be formed as contemplated, any or all available or surviving member or members of the Electoral College may be mandated with the approval of the Governor to carry out the Selection. However, where none of the members of the College of Selectors is alive or available, the Governor may invoke the doctrine of necessity by appointing an ad hoc Electoral College from the Emirate of Chiefdom to carry out the Selection and thereafter stand dissolved.
(2) Without prejudice to any other existing Law or Custom applicable in Nasarawa State on the Selection and or deposition of an Emir or Chief as the case may be, this Law supersedes and shall take precedence over the said Law or Custom.
(3) It shall be mandatory for any Emir or Chief referred to in S.55(1) of this Law not to allow any vacancy to exist in the College or Selectors for a period exceeding two (2) months upon death, resignation or disqualification of any of the traditional Selector except where the Selector is a Village or District Head that would also undergo another process of Selection.
Perhaps, it was against this backdrop that the Governor of Nasarawa State stated that the Eggon people should remain calm regarding the emergence of a new Aren Eggon.
While responding to the First elected Governor of Nasarawa State who paid him a condolence visit following the death of the Aren Eggon, the Governor said that whatever his administration will do regarding the replacement of the late Aren Eggon, will be to best in the interest of the Eggon Nation and the state as a whole.
Engineer Sule noted that, with the level of peace and stability prevailing in the state, his administration will do everything possible to sustain the peaceful coexistence.
He disclosed that he had cause to appeal for calm among the Eggon Nation, mostly because of the unfolding agitation to replace the late traditional ruler.
“We have visited the palace and I have also pleaded with the people. Because every time you are having such a very important replacement, you will have a lot of interest but at the end of the day, God has already selected who will be the next Aren Eggon.
“And I pleaded with them to wait and listen to government, because whatever the government will do, will be to the best interest of the Eggon Nation and the state as a whole,” he stated.
He emphasized that, as a father of the state, God has bestowed upon him, the responsibility of finding a replacement for the Aren Eggon and the same God will guide him towards ensuring that government brings about the right person that will take over and continue to lead the people and maintain the peace in the state.
“Like you said, our prayer is, may his soul rest in peace and may God almighty guide us in bringing about a replacement for him, whoever will take over from him,” the Governor said.
Earlier, in his opening remarks, the National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, said he was at the Government House to pay the traditional Sallah homage, as well as condole with the Governor, his administration, the Eggon people and the state, over the demise of the late Aren Eggon, Bala Abainei Angbazo.
Senator Adamu described the late Aren Eggon as one of the greatest traditional rulers in the state.
He recounted that, together with the late Bala Abainei Angbazo, they were matured enough and were practicing politicians, when the latter’s father, Abdullahi Ede, the first Aren Eggon to enjoy the staff of office, passed away.
“With his passing away, we believe we should join you as one of his eminent sons from that particular zone and the state generally, to condole with you, to condole with your government and to condole with the Eggon people under your leadership and to condole with the state generally for the loss of such an eminent traditional ruler in the state.
“We pray and hope that God Almighty, will give you the fortitude to bear his loss. And God in His infinite mercy will also guide you that we have a befitting replacement in that zone,” he said.