In the debate on the Native Authority (Amendment) Law of 1955, the late Premier of the North, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto, replying to the demand that ‘it is high time in the development of local government systems in this Region that obsolete and undemocratic ways of appointing Emirs’ Councils should close’, commented that ‘the right traditions that we have gone away from are the cutting off of the hands of thieves, and that has caused a lot of thieving in this country. Why should we not be cutting (off) the hands of thieves in order to reduce thieving? That is logical and it is lawful in our tradition and custom here.’ This could be read as a defence against social change, a recrudescence of ‘barbarism’ after the inroads of pax Britannica, and a plea for the retention of the status quo and the entrenched privilege of the political elite.
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