Posted by News Express | 10 September 2013 | 7,950 times
Hopes of a quick resolution of the kingship crisis rocking Itsekiri land of Delta State in Nigeria’s South-South have become dashed following the decision of the chiefs that the paramount ruler, Ogiame Atuwatse II, must renounce his new edict rejecting the ‘Ogiame’ if he is to continue as the Olu of Warri.
The Olu has yet to agree even as the two-day grace period given to him by his subjects following Sunday’s intervention by the state governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan – an Itsekiri son – expires this afternoon.
The crisis started on September 4 when Atuwatse II, citing his new beliefs as a born again Christian, issued an edict renouncing pagan-related titles and practices associated with the throne. Both the palace chiefs and Itsekiri elders under the aegis of Itsekiri Leaders of Thought (ILoT) have told the paramount ruler to abdicate if he cannot continue functioning under the terms and conditions he voluntarily accepted when he was crowned king 26 years ago.
A statement issued yesterday by ILoT declared that the title Ogiame is synonymous with Olu (kingship) of Warri Kingdom and if wiped out, it would mean the Olu of Warri has been terminated.
The statement was jointly signed by by ILoT Chairman, Pa J.O.S Ayomike and Chief Isaac Jemide, Edward Ekpoko (Secretary), A.S. Mene, O.P. Edodo, Prof. Nesin Omatseye, Julius Otiri, Tony Ede, J. E. Agbejule and Mr. D. O. Anomuogharan.
The Isekiri leaders said in the statement that after due consultation with relevant stakeholders in Iwereland (Isekiriland), it became obvious that Itsekiris want Atuwatse 11 to withdraw the controversial edict as the only condition for him to continue in office.
“We, therefore, advise the Olu of Warri to act accordingly,” they said, adding: “Ogiame has been the unchanged name of the Warri monarch since its creation in 1480 and Atuwatse 11, the name of the reign that began in 1987. If the former is abolished, the monarchy would have been extinguished and if Atuwatse 11 ceases to be Ogiame, his reign as the Warri monarch would have expired. Neither is possible.”
The statement pointed out that Christianity began in Warri/Benin region in the early 16th century and about eight Olus of the 19 Olus got baptised as Christians. It, therefore, faulted Atuwatse 11, arguing that the Itsekiri Nation cannot be said to have covenant with Umalokun, as the word Ogiame only means king or ruler of the region so founded.
The Itsekiri leaders declared religion to be a personal matter, saying that while no one can stop the Olu from becoming a devout Christian, he also cannot stop or condemn others practising their religion. In the circumstances, they declared the new order proclaimed by Atuwatse 11 as not legally binding on anybody.
Atuwatse 11, is, however, sticking to his guns, saying that as royal priest of God, placed by God as a king over His people, he would neither serve inferior gods nor lead God’s children to serve the gods of sea, land and sky.
•Photo, courtesy Vanguard, shows a cross section of Itsekiri chiefs.
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