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The Role of the Court in Chieftaincy Dispute Resolution in Yoruba Land, 1933 – 1957

LK Alo


One of the major challenges faced by the colonial administration in Nigeria was chieftaincy disputes, which created social disorder in some parts of the country. Prior to 1933, chieftaincy litigation in courts constituted an embarrassment to the colonial government; hence the promulgation of an ordinance to regulate chieftaincy matters. It was in an effort to solve this problem that an Ordinance, Chieftaincy Disputes (Preclusion of Courts) Ordinance was promulgated. It was to exclude chieftaincy cases from the courts and consequently prevent the activities of lawyers in chieftaincy disputes. This paper, therefore, examines the role of the courts in chieftaincy dispute resolution. To what extent was the Preclusion Ordinance able to exclude chieftaincy cases from the courts? Was the colonial administration able to keep lawyers away from helping to file chieftaincy litigation at the court? What significant contribution was the court able to make in resolving chieftaincy contestation? These and related questions are what this paper addresses. This study relied on oral sources collected from chiefs, elders and some other custodians of culture and tradition of the people. Relevant information was garnered from archival materials. Secondary sources related to the subject were also consulted. This study is approached from socio-historical perspective and data were historically analysed.

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eISSN: 1597-3778
print ISSN: 1597-3778