Nigerian History’s Top 20 Dethroned Traditional Rulers

Dethronement can occur for a variety of reasons, including disagreements with the powers that be, particularly the government, which typically leads to official pronouncements of dethronement, self-exile to prevent abduction or removal from the throne through court injunctions.

Dethronement is often brought about by uprisings and revolts among subjects in response to dissatisfaction with reigns or claims of misbehavior and misconduct.

So, which Nigerian Kings have been deposed against their will?

As a result, I’ve gone to the trouble of compiling this list in order to highlight the fact that history has been repeating itself without our notice.

The following is a list of the 20 Nigerian Kings who have been dethroned

1. Ooni of Ife – Ogboru

Ogboru is a 19th-century Ooni of Ife who was dethroned by the Ife Palace Chiefs who were bored of his 70-year reign. He was tricked into leaving his place to go see something in the historic Ile-Ife town’s Atiba square, and he wasn’t allowed to return to the palace. He stormed off to another continent, where he created and settled a small village called Ife-Odan.

Ife Chiefs had to seek for him at Ife Odan to get him to return, but he resisted and offered them his daughter Moropo to sacrifice at the palace, after which his son Giessi became the next Ooni after him.

2. Oba of Benin Ovoranwen Nogbaisi (1888 – 1897)

In 1897, he was removed by the British government for monopolizing trade forms that the British government, led by Vice-Consul Phillips Roberts, found objectionable, and hence rooted for his removal. The Consult attempted to elude the Oba’s palace but was ambushed and slain by royal emissaries. Benin City was demolished and the palace was badly looted as a result of a military action led by Harry Hawson. The Oba was supposed to be hanged, but he managed to flee when his dethronement was revealed and was exiled to Essien, a tiny village in Calabar, where he died in 1914.

3. Emir of Bauchi – Umar Mohammed

On the 16th of February, 1902, Mohammed was overthrown by Lord Lugard’s second-in-command, William Wallace, for alleged slave trading, insubordination against the British government, and misrule of his people. His son was sworn in as Emir for the first time.

4. Emir of Kano Aliyu Ibn Abdullahi Maje Karofi

When the Sultan of Sokoto appointed another prince named Tukur as the new Emir of Kano in 1894, he became the Emir of Kano, and he and his elder brother, Yusuf, launched a “Bassa” resistance battle known as the 3rd Kano Civil War. Aliyu, known as the Sango of Zaki (the gun runner) or Ali Balads for his heavy use of explosives in most fights, seized Kano and became the Emir in 1894 after a year-long struggle.

Following an homage visit to the Sultan at Sokoto, he was deposed in 1903 when British-French forces assaulted Kano, putting an end to his reign. He was initially deported to Yola and then to Lokoja, where he died in 1926 as the capital of the new Northern Nigerian administration.

5. Emir of Ningi – Dan Yaya

Dan Yaya was overthrown by the British Temple just months after Umar Emir of Bauchi was exiled in July 1902 for oppressing his people, resulting in the murder of a mallam, and siding with Emir of Bauchi. A new Sarkin Ningi, Mammadu, was enthroned as the heir to the throne. Dan Yaya fled to Bura Town, where he was slain by the Bura people in 1905 for his continuing terrorizing deeds.

6. Olu of Warri – Erejuwa I

Between 1951,1964, 1966 and1989, Erejuwa was the traditional ruler of Itsekiri. Before becoming king, he was a senior officer with UAC who was dismissed by the NCNC eastern party in 1964 because of his support for Awolowo’s Action Group, which is the party of many prominent Itsekiris. As a result of the political struggle, the Midwestern States were formed. After being restored by a military administration led by David Ejoor in 1966, Erejuwa was exiled to the village of Ogbesse, where he governed until 1989.

7. Alaafin of Oyo – Oba Adediran Adeyemi II

Oba Adediran Adeyemi II (father of the current Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi) was dethroned for political rivalry with the Western government of Nigeria led by Chief Awolowo when he gave his political will and support to an opposition party led by Chief Nnamdi Azikwe, which was exacerbated by disagreement and conflict with the then Awolowo Action group leader, Bode Thomas. In July 1955, Oba Adediran was exiled from Oyo town and housed in Lagos by Alhaji N.B Soule, a wealthy NCNC member, following which Gbadegesin Ladigbolu was enthroned as the new Alaafin of Oyo until 1970.

8. Alaafin Adediran Adeyemi

Timi of Ede – Abibu Lagunju
Timi Abibu Languju, the first Muslim Yoruba king in history, reigned from 1855 to 1892 until being ousted and deported by the British to Ibadan, where he lived with Sunmonu Apampa, the Asipa of Ibadan at the time, until his death in 1900. One of his offspring, Raji Lagunju, was born to an Ile-Ife bride and raised to become the second Chief Imam of Ile-Ife.

9. Oba Adenuga, Awujale of Ijebu-Ode, 1892-1925

Awujale Adenuga In November 1925, Folagbade was named an Awujale of Ijebu Ode. He was 33 years old and lived in Igbeba, a small village near Ijebu Ode, with his mother. He was the “Odi” (Ijebu kingmakers) choice for the Tunwase ruling house, but other local chiefs objected to his appointment, believing he was too young and premature for the throne. In 1929, he was ousted and deported to Ilorin for corruption involving forestry fees and influencing the appointment of Oba Onipe of the IBU. He was succeeded by Oba Ogunnaike, who died in 1933.

10. Akarigbo of Remo – Oyebajo

Oba Oyebajo was the traditional ruler of Ijebu Remo from 1811 until 1915 when he was in his mid-twenties. The British removed him as a de-facto ruler who refused to respect his senior chiefs (Bademowo – The Lisa of Remo & Awofala, the Losi of) and denied them their due portion of the constitutionally entitled stipends, as part of the 1914 amalgamation regulation that local rulers should be part of native courts.

The British Officer in Charge of the Administrative District, H.F Ducoumbe, not only deposed him but also sentenced him and two others to hard labor in prison at Ijebu Ode. He was liberated 6 months later and later resided in Sagamu.

11. Alase of Remo, High Chief Awolesi

In a grandiose coronation ceremony attended by British Officer Ducoumbe, Awolesi was crowned the new Akarigbo. On the 25th of February 1916, Awolesi died suddenly, and the British appointed Oba Oyebayo’s clerk, an educated public writer, as the new Akarigbo of Remo. With rising Oyebajo groups calling for his reinstatement, he was imprisoned along with another follower named Ali and sent to Calabar in 1918, where he barely lived for 3 months. Ali died in 1922 after the Governor denied his clemency request.

12. Osemawe of Ondo – Oba Adekolurejo Jimosun II (Otutubiosun)

In 1925, the Oba, who ruled from 1918 to 1925, was deposed and exiled to Ile-Ife, where he lived and died. Ondo town had its first secondary school, called Ondo boys high school, under the reign of Oba Jimosun.

13. Oba Adenuga Fidipote II, Osemawe of Ondo

Oba Adenuga was said to be a wealthy ruler of Ondo town, and he is credited with constructing the town’s first modern palace. He ruled for seven years before being overthrown and forced out of town to Ibadan in 1942. Here’s where you may learn more about Ondo Obas.

14. Oba of Lagos – Ibikunle Akintoye & Kosoko

Akintoye was Oba of Lagos twice, the first time from 1841 until 1845 when he was ousted and sent to Badagry for advocating against the slave trade. Oba Kosoko was overthrown for having a rift with the British government after he refused to hand over the Lagos colony to the British and ordered the British administration to meet with the Oba of Benin. In 1851, the British administration returned Ibikunle Akintoye, who had been exiled as Egba and Badagry, in revenge for his gut.

He reigned for a second time until September 1853, when he died and was succeeded by Oba Dosumu. The deposed was afterward summoned to Lagos and promoted to high chief Oloja of Eleko, a salaried position in Oshodi tapa Epetedo. In 1872, he resided and died in this town.

15. Emir of Gwandu – Mustapha Jokolo

Following various claims leveled against him by his chiefs, the Ex-Emir was deposed by the Kebbi State administration in 2005 and banished to Kaduna. By June 2005, he had been succeeded by Muhammadu Illyasu Bashar, a retired major who had previously served as the military governor of the old Gongola State between 1976 and 1978. Jokolo, who has been deposed for 15 years, is still fighting his dethronement in court.

16. Emir of Kano – SIR Mohammodu Sanusi I

Sanusi I was the Emir of Kano between 1954 to April 1963, when he was overthrown by Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, a distant cousin, following an allegation of financial corruption in the emirate. In 1964, he was overthrown by Azare and died in Wudil a few years later. Sanusi I is the grandfather of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the recently deposed Emir of Kano who, like his grandpa, governed from 2014 to 2020.

17. Olofa of Offa – Oba Wuraola Isioye

Oba Isioye was enthroned on January 5, 1957, and reigned as Offa District Chief for two years until being deposed by the Northern Regional Government after a successful move to recognize Offa Local Court and abolish the long-used Ilorin Alkali Court. This prompted the late Saurduna to oust him and banish him to the Ogbomoso-Kogi Area, where he remained until his return in 1964. Even though his district title was not recovered, he was reinstated as Olofa till his death in 1969.

18. Sultan of Sokoto – Ibrahim Dasuki

The dethronement of Late Sultan Dasuki by the military administration of Abacha in 1996 is perhaps the most extensively documented case of a king being deposed in Nigeria, as practically everyone in Nigeria in their late twenties is aware of the event. There were also songs recorded by musicians to that effect on the continuing alteration of traditions, such as Yoruba Fuji Singer Abbass Obesere’s waxing of “T’oba kan o Ku, Oba kan o Je,” which states that a new king cannot be crowned while another is living.

Ibrahim Dasuki’s departure was said to be linked to a feud between him and Abacha over the late Abacha’s relative’s property. It was also speculated that it was because of rumors of his modernist style of government and that many people favored Sultan Maccido, who would follow him.

19. Olowo of Owo – Oba Olateru Olagbegi II

Oba Olateru, the richest and most powerful Olowo of Owo town in Ondo state, was elected Olowo in 1941 and reigned until 1966 when he joined forces with Chief S.L Akintola against Chief Awolowo, his ally. In fact, the Awolowo Action Group party was created inside Olowo palace, and Owo has been involved in political and kingship battles for years, culminating in 1966 with a cold-blooded coup that resulted in the loss of many possessions and lives.

The people of Owo rose against their King and exiled him for another 27 years, after which Oba Ogunoye ascended to the throne. Olateru was reappointed as the new Olowo of Owo in 1993 after the death of Ogunoye, and he reigned for another 5 years until his death in 1998. In 1999, his eldest son succeeded him and reigned for the next 20 years.

20. Deji of Akure – Oba Oluwadamilare Adesina Osupa III

The ignominious exit of Oba Oluwadamilare as Akure’s paramount king is just another reminder of the importance of royal carriage and behavior, as they are considered leaders and role models. The monarch was deposed on June 10, 2010, after his estranged wife was beaten at her house in Akure, in what the Ondo state government described as “dishonorable, condemnable, and disgusting conduct unworthy of a king,” invoking a clause of the state chieftaincy legislation of 1984 as amended. On the 13th of August 2010, a new Deji of Akure Adebiyi Adeshida Afunbiowo II was declared with quick action.

Other Kings who have been dethroned include:

Oba Awujale Sikiru Adetona

Adetona was ousted in 1981 after being suspended by a commission of inquiry set up by Olabisi Onabanjo, the then-Governor of Ogun State, and was found guilty of the accusation. Following a military takeover, he was luckily reinstated by Col. Diya.

Onojie of Uromi Kingdom – Anslem Aidenojie

Former Governor Adams Oshiomole suspended Aidenojie and deposed him in 2016 for abusing a woman and showing blatant disrespect for constituted authority by failing to apologize within the two-week period he was given. In 2018, Gov. Obaseki, on the other hand, reinstalled the former king.

Olupoti of Ipoti Ekiti – Oba Oladele Ayeni

After 25 years in power, Oba Isiah Oladele, who was accused of being unjustly chosen in 1987, was deposed in 2012.

Eleruwa of Eruwa, Oba Samuel Adebayo Adegbola

After 21 years in power, he was deposed by the Supreme Court in November 2019. He was dethroned for the first time in 2011, and after filing an appeal, he lost the reign eight years later.

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