Nigeria: Tribal chiefs 'under fire'

Nigeria's traditional rulers have been feeling the heat, with one seeing his palace burned down and another kidnapped at gunpoint, it's reported.

The palace of the "Oloba of Oba Oke", in the southwestern state of Osun, was razed by youths from the neighbouring Oba Ile community, following a mass brawl on Sunday, Punch reports. Rival youths reportedly wielded axes, machetes and firearms, which were subsequently turned on police officers. State police commissioner Dorothy Gimba was quoted as saying that police restored order before anybody was seriously injured and the ruler, Oba Dahunsi Iyiola, was rescued unhurt. It seems the incident was triggered by a row over a disputed land plot.

Meanwhile, the "Paramount Ruler of Esit Eket" was kidnapped by gunmen who stormed his palace in the southern state of Akwa Ubong on Tuesday, Punch reports. Edidim Assam is said to have been dragged from his bedroom, driven away by car and taken to sea in a speedboat. No-one was hurt, it seems. Nigeria has more than 250 ethnic groups. Although traditional rulers lack constitutional power, they offer prestige and scope for political patronage. While some chieftaincies are inherited, titles are also awarded to prominent Nigerians in recognition of services and can reportedly be bought.

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