Culture, traditions and decorum appear to be eroding in some scared institutions of leadership.

Investigation by Bounce News suggests that monies may have been exchanging hands illegally for upgrade of traditional rulers in Kogi State.

The Kogi State Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs Ministry is at the center of the bribery scandal  as it has been discovered that there have been dubious activities in determining the criteria to upgrade these rulers.

Some affected rulers have alleged a hijack of the process by officials of the Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs who sell positions to highest bidders.

Kogi Traditional Rulers

The state government had last week upgraded about 85 traditional rulers.

The traditional rulers, who were seen in the premises of the Kogi State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, hinted Bounce News  that upgrades were being sold to highest bidders.

The angry traditional rulers who were allegedly denied upgrade based on merit accused the Ministry officials of demanding and collecting between N300,000 and N10million.

One of the traditional rulers disclosed on condition of anonymity that "classless chiefs" were paying 300,000 to be upgraded to "3rd class chiefs" while the 3rd class chiefs were made to pay N400,000 to be upgraded to "2nd class".

With disappointment written all over the traditional ruler, he further explained that those already in 2nd class positions were made to pay N500,000 to attain the First Class tittle.

“Your present status does not matter, as long as you have money to pay you will be upgraded.” he said.

The beaded chief said that as a result of the development, the office of the special Adviser to the Governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs had become a beehive of activities as some royal fathers struggle to meet up with the payment demands.

One of the traditional rulers from Bassa, (names withheld) who visited the premises of the NUJ to lodge his complaint recalled that he was upgraded to 3rd class in 1997 by the then military Administrator Colonel Afakriya.

Kogi Traditional Rulers

He said he was denied upgrade because he had no money to pay.

"Ordinarily and in the order of seniority, I ought to have been upgraded to 2nd class position on merit but was denied because I had no money to pay to buy my way up there".

He alleged that a traditional ruler who was upgraded to 3rd class in 2007 was upgraded to second class at his own expense because N400,000 changed hands.

According to him, when he approached the ministry about the abnormally, he was advised to go and look for N400,000.

The traditional ruler who was in tears said there is no way he could raise 400,000 thousand naira.

He cautioned the state government against setting a bad precedence that would impact negatively on the integrity of the traditional institution in the State.

Worst still, the traditional ruler expressed worry over a situation where non-indigenes of the state holding ordinary chieftaincy titles were also graded and by implication, had become members of traditional Council.

He feared that such development would create crisis between the royal heritage who own the domain and the title holders who were visitors and without domain.

The royal father questioned where such upgraded title holder would exercise his rulership and over who.

When contacted, one of the directors in the ministry debunked the allegations saying they were false adding that it was not possible as all the processes leading to the upgrading were transparent.

He directed BOUNCE NEWS  reporter to the Special Adviser to the Governor, on Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Engineer Abubakar Ohere for further clarification.

Also, the Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Chieftaincy Title, Chief Olabanji Aiyelabowo also debunked the claims when contacted.

However, all efforts to see the special Adviser to speak on the allegations were futile as our reporter was told  that the honourable traveled out of town for a few days.

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