Top 10 Most Feared Traditional Rulers in Nigeria

Nigeria is a country with a rich cultural heritage and numerous traditional practices that ultimately define us as a people. But since the invasion of the Europeans in the early 1900s things have absolutely metamorphosed. Many well known traditional practices have been eroded as the European/western ways of life has gradually taken centre stage.

In the days of colonial rule, to overcome the barrier of local resistance, the Europeans employed the services of some traditional rulers due to their influence on the people.

Most of these traditional rulers were feared and revered in their day. Today, a few traditional rulers still command so much respect and fear from their subjects. When we say fear here, we mean it in the Nigerian way, that is, deep reverence and respect.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 most feared traditional rulers in Nigeria.

1. Ooni of Ile-Ife

Ooni of Ife

The Ooni of Ife is one of the most respected and feared traditional rulers in Nigerian. The Ooni of Ile-Ife has his jurisdiction in Osun State Nigeria. It is the general acclaim that the Ooni of Ife is the custodian of the Yoruba culture for the fact that Ile-Ife is regarded to be the ancestral home of the Yoruba tribe in southwest Nigeria. History holds that many other feared traditional rulers in southwest Nigeria were sons of the first Ooni of Ife.

The office of Ooni of Ile-Ife is a traditional office position which has been in existence since 500BC when Ooni Odùduwà was the traditional ruler. The Ooni of Ife is so respected, it is said he plays a big role in deciding who becomes the governor of Osun State. The current Ooni of Ile-Ife is Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II of Ife.

 2. Alake of Egbaland


The Alake of Egbaland is another feared and respected traditional ruler in Nigeria. This traditional ruler is the paramount Yoruba king of Egba in Abeokuta, Ogun State. The Alake of Egbaland is highly revered in Abeokuta and is said to have the final say on a lot of issues in Ogun State.

The Alake of Egbaland is a traditional leadership position which although is not conferred by birth is a lifetime position. The Alake of Egbaland is also said to be endowed with some mystical powers which make him a dreaded ruler. The present Alake of Egbaland is Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo the third.

3. The Emir of Kano


The Emir of Kano is one of the most respected traditional rulers in Northern Nigeria. The position of Emir in Kano has been an age old kingship position which has been occupied for over 300 years. The then Kano Emirates which had been in existence since the late 1400s was being governed solely by the Emir.

Currently, the Emir of Kano is the second most important Muslim position in Nigeria. The current Emir of Kano is His Royal Highness Mallam Muhammad Sanusi II, who had been one-time Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

4. Sultan of Sokoto

Sultan of Sokoto

The Sultan of Sokoto is the most revered Muslim traditional ruler in the country. Being the spiritual leader of Muslims in Nigeria, the position of Sultan of Sokoto is highly respected and feared. Yes, you can say that when the Sultan sneezes people catch cold.

The Sultan of Sokoto also presides over the Nigerian National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA). The Sultan of Sokoto is a position that has been in existence in Nigeria for hundreds of years and its origin can be traced back to the Jihad of Usman dan Fodio in the 1800s. The current Sultan of Sokoto is Amirul Mumineen Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar IV.

5. Oba of Lagos

Oba of Lagos

Being one of the commercial hubs in the country, Lagos state draws in people from every nook and cranny of the nation. This gives an impression of how important and feared the Oba of Lagos can be. In the commercial city of Lagos, every action, or speech made by the Oba of Lagos carries a lot of weight.

The Oba of Lagos is alleged to play a huge role on who becomes the governor of Lagos as well as other political positions in the former Nigerian capital. The current Oba of Lagos is His Highness Oba Rilwan Akiolu.

6. Oba of Benin

Oba of Benin

When it comes to monarchs who are respected and feared, the Oba of Benin is among the top. The Oba of Benin is known and respected as the traditional ruler of the Edo people and also seen as head of the Eweka dynasty of the Great Benin Empire. The position of Oba in Benin is also revered because of the historic disposition of his office.

The first Oba of Benin can be traced to as far back as 1180. The Oba of Benin is seen as the main custodian if the rich culture of the Benin people. The current Oba of Benin is His Royal Highness Edaiken N’Uselu. He ascended the throne this year.

7. Olubadan of Ibadan

Olubadan of Ibadan

The Olubadan of Ibadan is highly feared and respected in Oyo State and in Yoruba land in general. The word Olubadan actually stands for Lord of Ibadan and his position is one that comes with huge acclaim.

The Olubadan is revered because of the amount of power he wields in Ibadan. The Olubadan is also known for keeping the peace in the society. The current Olubadan of Ibadan is Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade.

8. Awujale of Ijebuland

Awujale of Ijebuland

One highly feared and revered traditional leader in Nigeria is the Awujale of Ijebuland. This traditional leader is lord over the Ijebu people. The power wielded by the Awujale of Ijebuland is quite a remarkable one as his kingdom dates back as far back as the fifteenth century.  The current ruler of Ijebuland is Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona.

9. Olu of Warri

current olu of warri













The Olu of Warri is a highly respected monarch in Warri, Delta State Nigeria. The Olu of Warri governs the Itsekiri people and is renown for his knack for peace-making and maintaining the peace in the Itsekiri kingdom. He does this because  he alone,  besides the government, wields the power to do so.

The present Olu of Warri is none other than Ogiame Ikenwoli.

10. Alaafin of Oyo

Alaafin of Oyo

The Alaafin of Oyo is a respected traditional ruler in Oyo State. The Alaafin of Oyo is also alleged to play a big role in deciding who stays and who goes in Oyo State politics. The position of the Alaafin of Oyo comes with a huge responsibility of acting as a father to the millions of Yoruba people under the umbrella of Oyo State. He is however rivaled in this responsibility by the Olubadan of Ibadan.

The current Alaafin of Oyo is His Royal Highness Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III.

Wow! Bet you didn’t know Nigeria still had such a rich cultural heritage. Keep up with iDonsabi to discover more mysteries in Nigeria and the world.

Got any views? Let’s discuss Nigerian traditional rulers in the comments section!


*images were curled from google images and are not property of iDonsabi

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *