By Emeka Okafor
The male children of Erejuwa11 (descendants of the three last Olus of Warri) have described as ridiculous and null and void the alleged suspension of Chief Ayiri Emami as the Ologbotsere (traditional prime minister) of Warri.
The princes also demanded that the process enshrined in the edict of the revered Itsekiri traditional stool must be strictly followed in the selection of a new Olu of Warri to avert confusion in the Itsekiri Nation.
In a press statement made available to NIGER DELTA TODAY (NDT) Online on Thursday, the children of Erejuwa 11 posited that in line with the edict of the throne, the succession is limited to the descendants of the last three Olus.
The statement signed by Toba Emiko, Erejuwa II; Debi Emiko, Erejuwa II; Young Emiko, Erejuwa II and Omatsuli Emiko, Ikenwoli on behalf of the children stated that Prince Bernard Oritsetimeyin Emiko remains the Olori-Ebi (the administrative head of the family).
This is coming barely after some members of the ruling led by the ‘Regent’ of Warri, Emmanuel Okotie-Eboh, reportedly announced the suspension of Chief Ayiri, a Warri-based billionaire businessman as the Ologbotsere.
But reacting to the suspension of Chief Ayiri from the Itsekiri Council of Chiefs, the children of Erejuwa 11 maintained that the Chief Ayiri remained the Ologbotsere and urged Itsekiris support efforts at picking a new monarch.
Read Full Statement Below:
We need to draw the attention of the general public to what is happening in Warri Kingdom today as it relates to the selection of an Omoba to the throne of Warri Kingdom, even though we are reluctant to bring our issues before the public. However, our silence is being construed differently. So, we have decided to clear the air.
The Ologbotsere of Warri, Chief Ayiri Emami summoned the Ginuwa 1 ruling house to the Palace of the Olu of Warri on Friday 5th February 2021 to announce the critical health condition of His Majesty Ogiame Ikenwoli the Olu of Warri. In accordance with the provisions of S.3 of the Declaration made under S.8 of the Traditional Rulers and Chiefs Edict. 1979 Stating the Customary Law Regulating Succession to the Title of the Olu of Warri, where he requested the Ginuwa 1 ruling house to get prepared to provide an OMOBA in accordance with the provisions of the Edict.
For the avoidance of doubt, S.2 provides that Succession is limited to Olu’s company (Otolu ) i.e. the descendants of the last three Olus——-Ordinarily, succession passes to a son of a demised Olu, failing which to a suitable member of the Otolo, provided that brothers are preferred to uncles and uncles are preferred to grandsons and grandsons are preferred to other relatives within the Otolos. Females are absolutely barred.
S.4 went on to provide that “to qualify, a candidate’s mother must be an Itsekiri or of Edo origin and his father must be an Itsekiri.”
For the purpose of clarity, the last three Olus are Erejuwa 11, Atuwatse 11 and Ikenwoli and a successor will naturally emerge from these three last Olus. The Olori-Ebi i.e (the administrative head of the family) of the last three Olus is Prince Bernard Oritsetimeyin Emiko,who was given the responsibility to present an Omoba to the Ginuwa ruling house in line with the provision of the 1979 Edict. The first choice being the sons of Ogiame Ikenwoli, failing which it progresses to the brothers and on and on. We need to state very clearly at this point that the EMIKO and The EJOH families are no longer part of the selection process. However, the process is yet to be concluded because some members of the Emiko and Ejoh family truncated the process by secretly choosing an individual who was disqualified five years ago at the demise of Ogiame Atuwatse 11 his father as he did not meet the requirements of the provisions of the Edict.
The Olori Ebi of the Erejuwa 11 house was not given the opportunity to present the report of the selection process so far to the Ginuwa 1 ruling house. Rather, the Olori-Ebi of the Ginuwa 1 ruling house (Emma OKOTIEEboh ) went on to recognize someone else who presented a different report that did not fulfill the criteria as provided by the Edict 1979. That was where the problem started.
Let it be made clear that it was the provisions of the above stated Edict that was used for the installation of Ogiame Atuwatse the 11, it was also the provisions of the same Edict that was use for the Coronation of Ogiame Ikenwoli. As we speak, this same Edict has not been amended and the provisions are still same and valid. We therefore find it ridiculous for a group of members of the Ginuwa ruling house to now claim to have presented an OMOBA to the Ojoye-Isan.
The issues have now degenerated to social media warfare where issues of our respected Tradition and Culture is now been celebrated in the social media by people who do not understand the Traditional norms and ethics as well as the Laws surrounding these issues.
The Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom (Chief Ayiri Emami) and the respected members of Ojoye-Isan are trying their best to comply with the provisions of the Edict. It is our strong view that they should be encouraged by all well-meaning Itsekiris as anything to the contrary will only bring confusion. The purported suspension of the Ologbotsere and the appointment of the Iyatsere to act in his place is rather ridiculous. The conferment of a Chieftaincy title on anybody in Iwereland is the sole prerogative of the Olu of Warri. You cannot give away what you do not have. Therefore, the purported suspension is null and void.
Upon the disqualification on Monday 29th March 2021 by the Ojoye-Isan of the individual who was wrongly presented as the Omoba by a faction of the Ginuwa ruling house, the Palace was invaded and attacked that night into the early hours of the following day. During the attack, lives were put at risk, properties destroyed and valuable Items carted away from the Palace by hoodlums. This is rather unfortunate and so much not in our character as Itsekiries. It is sacrilegious for the Palace of the Olu of Warri to be attacked and destroyed. We appeal to all well-meaning Itsekiries to desist from these negative behaviors.
We have heard that a group of persons are calling for Ife oracle cast tomorrow at the Palace. We are not sure who these people are, or what interest they represent. Let it be known that the descendants of the last three Olus who are the main stakeholders in this matter are not in support of the charade.
We all need to pray and work for peace and progress in Itsekiri land at this time.
We the male children of Erejuwa11 met at the Palace of the Olu of Warri on Monday 29th March 2021, to deliberate on the way forward. After about two hours of deliberation, we agreed as follows.
1. That the process of ife eyin should be arranged with two representatives from Ojoye-Isan, two representatives from Itsekiri leaders of Thoughts, two representatives from INY to witness the ife process as observers.
2. Two Olumales or Okparan Umales from Orugbo to come and place curse on the Oraclist to check any foul play.
3. The process of Ife divination will start with the sons of Ikenwoli and then proceed to the brothers, if the sons fail and then proceed to the Nephews, if the brothers fail as provided in the Edict.
4. All the observers will nominate two ife priest each while all the candidates will also nominate two ife priest of their choice. We believe this will be a very transparent and clear way forward. We affirm that WHOEVER COMES OUT AS THE OMOBA IN THIS PROCESS WILL BE ACCEPTED AND SUPPORTED BY US ALL.
Present in this meeting were:
1. Joseph Emiko
2. Yemi Emiko
3. Bernard Emiko
4. Toba Emiko
5. Debi Emiko
6. Young Emiko
7. Dudu Emiko
8. Jaiye Emiko
9. Samuel Emiko.
Toba Emiko Erejuwa II, Debi Emiko Erejuwa II, Young Emiko Erejuwa II, Omatsuli Emiko Ikenwoli