By Emeka Okafor
As the process to select a new Olu of Warri continues to gather momentum, the Ginuwa 1 Ruling House has suspended the Prime Minister (Ologbotsere) of Warri, Chief Ayiri Emami, following heightened succession battle for the revered Itsekiri throne.
It was gathered that there has been disquiet in the Itsekiri Nation since His Majesty, Ogiame Ikenwoli, reportedly joined his ancestors in December last year.
Although the demise of the Itsekiri monarch has not been officially announced, it was gathered that process to pick his successor had since commenced among members of the Ruling House.
The battle to select a consensus candidate for the throne heightened on Monday following reports that the choice of the Ruling House, Prince Tsola Emiko, was reportedly disqualified by the Chief Ayiri-led Olu’s Advisory Council.
Prince Tsola is the first son of the late 19th Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse ll.
However, the Regent of Warri, Emmanuel Okotie-Eboh, who was appointed following the demise of the monarch, on Tuesday flanked by members of the Ginuwa 1 Ruing House announced that Chief Ayiri has been suspended from the Council of Chiefs with immediate effect.
Okotie-Eboh also announced that Ayiri, a billionaire businessman had also been suspended as the Ologbotsere of Warri.
In Ayiri’s place, the Regent, announced the Iyatsere, who is second in command in the kingdom to immediately assume the position of Ologbotsere in acting capacity and also lead the final process for the selection of Olu of Warri.
Announcing the suspension of the Ologbotsere in the presence of Itsekiri Ruling Houses in Warri, the Regent accused Chief Ayiri and others of illegally disqualifying the choice of the Ruling House among other allegations.
A copy of the Regent’s address was obtained by NIGER DELTA TODAY Online on Tuesday.
The text of Chief Ayiri’s suspension as Ologbotsere reads, “In the last couple of months, our dear pristine and ancient kingdom of Warri, has experienced an assault on all things dear it, ranging from the traditional, customary and even regal. This is what resulted in the unfortunate incident that happened in the early hours of this morning. We condemn this violence approach and call on our youths, to calm down and let us handle this matter from here on. This is what you get when so called leaders fail the people.
“It is regrettable that our well respected age old throne of the Olu of Warri, has been subjected to strange and deliberate machinations by a cabal of a few rascals, led by Chief Ayiri Emami, who against all odds, advise and protests by the people, was fostered on Itsekiri as Ologbotsere, of the kingdom. What most Itsekiris saw at the time that led to the massive protests across the land, are the things manifesting now in very audacious, but sad circumstances. Since this self styled traditional prime minister was imposed on the kingdom, he has been riding roughshod on the people and desecrating all things dear to us.
“The Itsekiris are a close knit, well organized people, with well defined succession processes to the throne of the Olu of Warri, which have been sustained over the last nearly seven centuries. Recently in 1979 a law was hurriedly put together by a hand few of our leaders to meet the exigencies of that time. This so called ‘edict’ annoying as it is, was never presented to the people to discuss it at a general assembly of itsekiris for purposes of ratification and general acceptance. But the last two Olus were crowned using this aberration, despite protests and court cases against the law each time.
“Now we come to another cross reads. The Ginuwa I Ruling House, which is the only ruling house in the land, and which has EXCLUSIVE powers to nominate a successor to the throne, has been meeting in the last three months after a convocation of bonafide members of the house, to nominate a successor to the throne. In the end Prince Tsola Emiko, was picked as the most qualified person to sit on the throne at this time. This was done only after his name was submitted to the ruling house by majority of the descendants of the last three Olus, even in compliance with this vexatious edict
“Only yesterday, Chief Emami, together with two of his known friends, who he has without any sense of decency brought into the Olu’s Advisory Council s temporary members, took an irrational decision declaring that they have disqualified Prince Tsola. The edict does not give them such powers; they have no right whatsoever to disqualify any candidate presented to them by the Ruling House. Their only prescribed function is to summon the elders wd senior officials of the ruling house, and in the presence of the Regent… one last time.
“This singular illegal action of “disqualification” is now threatening the relative peace in Warri kingdom and almost tearing apart the very fabric of our existence.
“Chief Emami has been carrying on with a bend and fiendish mentality bordering on suspected temporary loss of his right senses. At meetings of the council of chiefs, who have from time to time gathered to try and make him see reason, Chief Ayiri will shout down at both the very old and not so old, and use his thugs to threaten anyone who dared oppose his jaundiced views.
“We have reached a tipping point in this matter, and before it further degenerates into mayhem, the following urgent actions are to be taking:
“Chief Ayiri Emami, having exhibited actions and tendencies unbecoming of the position he occupies, and having proven himself unworthy of the Ologhotsere stool, is hereby suspended from the Warri council of chiefs.
“He is to immediately step aside as the Ologbotsere and stop parading himself as such.
“The lyatsere, who is next in command, and in fact the most senior chief who accompanied Ginuwa I from Benin to found the Warri kingdom, is hereby appointed as acting chairman of the council of chiefs and the Olu’s Advisory Council. He is to take over immediately and steer the remainder of the process to give us an organized, speedy closure. Enough of Ayiri’s drunken antics and scatter brain approach to our affairs. These are serious traditional and spiritual matters, not meant for people without any strength of character, nor the mental capacity.
“I take these decisions as the Regent of Warri kingdom, duly elected by the entire Ruling House and officially presented to chief Ayiri and the Advisory Council on February 5, 2021.
“We reiterate our loyalty to the Crown and commit to the Itsekiri PLC (people & crown) that we will not let them down in these very tempestuous times, and will continue to stand for all the values we hold sacred.
“We again call on all our youths to remain calm, but resolute and trust that we will not betray them in this fight of good over evil.”
Meanwhile, efforts to speak with Chief Ayiri on his alleged suspension on Tuesday proved abortive as reported calls to his telephone line by the Managing Editor of this medium were not picked as of the time of publishing this report.
However, an Itsekiri palace chief, who confirmed the latest development, however faulted the position of the Regent on the suspension of Ayiri, declaring that the Regent has no such power.
The chief who pleaded not to be named said, “The suspension is ultra vires the powers of the self-acclaimed Regent. Furthermore, there is currently no Regency in Itsekiriland as the Olu has not yet passed on since there has been no formal announcement by the Ologbotsere whose duty it is or indeed any other traditional authority.
”It is most indecent and ill-decorous to be making pronouncements relating to succession when no vacancy has been declared.”