1.1 Background to the Study

It is important to concede that the area of the study has attracted the minds of various scholars and researchers. Yet it is the concern of this study to examine and relate such research endeavors on traditional authority to the contemporary security challenges in Nigeria. The exact nature and patterns of governance-cum, socio-economic inter-relationship between the traditional rulers and contemporary security situations will improve our understanding of the criminal justice system specifically in resolving issues of socio-political insecurity and religious conflicts thereby restoring social order, peace, harmony and stability. The general objective of the paper is to examine the role of traditional rulers in security administration from pre 1804 period, 1804-1903, 1903-1960 and 1960 and beyond; identify the structures, institutions as well as social changes on contemporary security in Nigeria. This is done by comparing roles of leadership of traditional rulers. The study will significantly contribute towards research efforts to dispute the claim. The findings of this research hopefully will put the roles and legacies of the traditional rulers into proper perspective to bear on the contemporary security situation/matter in Nigeria.

Conceptual Issues

Security as a basic human need is important to the individual community. According to Alemika (2015) security is a contested concept, it means different things to different people and it also a contested practice, security for a group may constitute insecurity for another group. Therefore, security raises ontological debates about its nature and scope. Is there such a thing as security? There are two perspectives on the ontology or reality of security. The first perspective argues that security depicts a reality, a feeling and a condition. The second perspective conceives security as a label attached to a condition that someone considers undeniable. Balogun (2004:1) observed that man‟s primary and engaging concern has been that of survival and protection; from the vagaries of nature, natural disasters and from the ill-intentions and misdeeds of his fellow man community.

Traditional Instituitions

By traditional institutions, it refers to the indigenous political system or arrangements whereby leaders with proven track of records are nominated, appointed and installed in accordance with the provisions of their native laws and customs (Malami, 1978, Orji and Olali, 2010). The essence of the institutions is to preserve the customs, traditions and cultural heritage of the people and manage conflicts and violence arising among or between members of the community by the instrumentality of laws and customs of the people.

Traditional rulers

In our day to day language we often hear the word traditional rulers in our society. The concept refers to the indigenous arrangements whereby leaders or persons by virtue of heredity or people with proven track records are nominated, appointed and installed in line with the provisions of their native laws and customs. The essence of the institution is to preserve the tradition, the customs, cultural heritage of the people and to manage, settle and resolve disputes/conflict arising within or between members of the community by the instrumentality of laws and customs of the people in that particular community or society. Generally, they are seen and referred to as the custodians of their people‟s norms, cultural values and practices. Adding on conceptual clarifications, Malami (1978:11) has identified three categories of traditional title holders that derive their titles from and through the traditions of the people, although the traditions vary from time, place and depth of cultural roots.

Firstly, those holding literally honorific titles, conferred on them by superior traditional rulers in recognition and appreciation of the service rendered to the society. This category has no schedules or specific functions seen as a good chain of information and agents of conscientizing or mobilizing people when the need arises. The second category are holders of titles or positions due to recent recognition or creation of such titles.

In contrast to the above, they may have executive functions but restricted by the same laws that created them or gave them recognition. The last category is full time executive traditional title holders who perform executive functions from traditions largely rooted, revered and recognized and exercise their executive functions

Roles of Traditional Rulers in Security Administration in Nigeria.

Traditional rulers hold the key to the success or failure in security administration in Nigeria because they operate at the grassroots of the society and interact closely with people in their daily activities consequent upon which they are highly respected. Abdullahi (2008) noted;

Community based approach as opinion leaders‟ traditional authority are first stakeholders if they do not back opinion will face problem as they are closer always in contact with people.

1.2 Problem Statement

Despite the predictions in the 1960s that this type of traditional ruler would dissapear, they have persisted and flourished in Nigeria. This multiplication of traditional authorities continues to flourish is in sharp contrast to other regions of Africa, where such systems have tended to wither away, especially when net rooted in the long- term social structures of the peoples over whom they were set to rule from the point of view of the colonial authorities, supporting traditional authorities, supporting traditional governance was a convenient and cheap method if both maintaining order and collecting tax with limited resources. Hence their is need to evaluate the role of traditional rulers in maintaining peace and harmony in Nigeria.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The major objective of the Study is the role of traditional rulers in maintaining peace and harmony in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions

(1) who are the traditional rulers?

(2) what are their roles and functions?

(3) what are their role in maintaining peace and harmony?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study gives a clear insight into the role of traditional rulers in maintaining peace and harmony in Nigeria.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The research focus on the role if traditional rulers in maintaining peace and harmony in Nigeria.


[1] Abdullahi, S.A. (2005), Youth Deviance and Traditional Authority in Kano Metropolitan: Some Issues in Chieftaincy and Security in Nigeria 40th Anniversary of the Emirship of HRH; Alhaji (Dr.), Ado Bayero.

[2] AbdulQadir, U.A., (2014), The Role of Traditional Rulers and the Islamic Religious Leaders in Sensitization and Mobilization of the Community on Election and Permanent Voter Participation and Modalities, Paper Presented at a Two-Day Sensitization Workshop for Traditional Rulers and Religious Leaders on Voter Registration and (Permanent) Voter Cards Exercise, Organized by the Ministry for Social Duties, Sokoto State Held at Giginya Hotel, Sokoto-Nigeria, 19th March, 2014.

[3] Ahmed, I.B., (2012), Intrinsic Human Relations Enhances Effective Security, Life and Property. An Article in Zabi da Tsari Column of Muryar Arewa (Voice of the North Magazine of July, 2012, 2013), The Need to Remedy Nigeria‟s Security Problems Through Emergency Measures Zabi da Tsari (Content Display) Column of Muryar Arewa (Voice of the North) Magazine of 28th February, 2013: p53.

[4] Alemika, E.E.O. (1993); “Criminology, Criminal Justice and Philosophy of Policing in Nigeria”, In T. N. Tamuno, I.L. Bashir, E.E.O. Alemika and A. O. Akano, (eds.) Policing Nigeria: Past, Present and Future, Lagos: Malthouse Press.

[5] Alemika, E.E.O. (2015), Security Crisis and Nigerian University System, being a Paper Presented at a Seminar on Security Crisis in Nigerian Universities held at the Main Auditorium University of Jos Main Campus, Jos, Plateau State-Nigeria.

[6] Baba, T.A.M., (2012), Security as a Basic Human Needs in Society, Being Keynote Address Delivered at a Workshop on Contemporary Security Challenges the Need for Awareness and Consciousness by Local Government Policy Makers, Organised by Prime Partners Held at Sokoto Guest Inn, Sokoto Nigeria, on July 24.

[7] Lugard, F. (1903), Second Address by the High Commission to the Sultan, Waziri and Elders of Sokoto, in Colonial Reports, Annual Northern Nigeria, 1900 – 1911.

[8] Malami, A.S., (2011), Role of Traditional Rulers in the development of Nigeria, Lecture Delivered at the Army Command and Staff College, August 2, 1978, Published in Sunday Trust, February 27, 2011.

[9] Maslow, A. H. (1943). A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-96.

[10] Nigerian Universities System, “Being a Paper Presented at a Seminar on Security Crisis in Nigerian Universities held at the Main Auditorium University of Jos Main Campus, Jos-Plateau State-Nigeria.


[11] Nweke, K., (2012), „The Role of Traditional Institutions of Governance in Managing Social Conflicts in Nigeria‟s Oil-Rich Niger Delta Communities: Imperatives of Peace Building Process in the Post-Amnesty Era‟, British Journal of Arts and Social Sciences (5):2.


[12] Orji, K. E. & Olali, S.T., (2010), „Traditional Institution and their Dwindling Roles in Contemporary Nigeria: The River State Example‟, in T. Babawale, A. Aloa, & B. Adesoji, The Chieftaincy Institutions in Nigeria, Lagos: Concept Publication Limted.


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