THE CURRENT SPATE OF DRAMA HAPPENING IN WARRI KINGDOM AND THE CASES OF CALL CHIEF AYIRI EMAMI TO ORDER: A CASE OF EMPTY SACK THAT CANNOT STAND

We have, painstakingly, read two documents recently, the first is a “Media statement” captioned


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THE CURRENT SPATE OF DRAMA HAPPENING IN WARRI KINGDOM AND THE CASES OF CALL CHIEF AYIRI EMAMI TO ORDER:  A CASE OF EMPTY SACK THAT CANNOT STAND
PRINCE CLEM. ADE OMOTOYE, ESQ


IWERE CONSULTATIVE FORUM

ISAIAH ROAD, UBEJI

WARRI SOUTH LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, DELTA STATE

NIGERIA 

 

27th March, 2024

 

 

The President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces,

Federal Republic of Nigeria,

Aso Rock,

Abuja

Federal Capital Territory,

 

Your Excellency,

 

THE CURRENT SPATE OF DRAMA HAPPENING IN WARRI KINGDOM AND THE CASES OF CALL CHIEF AYIRI EMAMI TO ORDER: 

             A CASE OF EMPTY SACK THAT CANNOT STAND

 

 

 

 

We have, painstakingly, read two documents recently, the first is a “Media statement” captioned “PAN YORUBA GROUPS EXPRESSES FULL SUPPORT FOR OLU OF WARRI, CAUTION PRESIDENCY ON AYIRI” by a group that calls itself “Oodua Nationalist Coalition, (ONAC)”.

 

 

 

The other is a letter dated Tuesday, March 5th, 2024, addressed to Mr. President, captioned “A SAVE OUR SOUL, (SOS) ON THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, BOLA AHMED TINUBU TO CALL AYIRI EMAMI ORDER.” by yet another group, that calls itself “ITSEKIRI HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH (IHRW)”. 

 

 

 

Our first reaction is to ignore documents emanating from unidentifiable and made for purpose groups. However, we are constrained to respond to the above mentioned documents because they, in some parts, tend to tell untruths and misrepresent the situations in Iwereland so as to give credence to their lies and misrepresentations. We have no choice but to set the records straight, firstly for Your Excellency and secondly, for the generality of the people, not minding the voice of Jacob behind the hand of Esau in the referenced write ups.

 

 

 

YOUR Excellency, Sir, permit us to first of all bring to your notice that the aim of the authors of the above referred write ups as can be deciphered from the very cheap, weak, flimsy and flippant write ups is just one, which to paint Chief Ayiri Emami black before the President, haven seen that the event that happened in the Palace of the Olu on the 16th day of April, 2023, whereat Chief Ayiri Emami was humiliated in the most despicable manner after deceiving Papa Ayo Oritsejafo and other well meaning Itsekiris to prevail on Chief Ayiri Emami to come to the Palace for resolution of the lingering trouble that trail the process of succession to the throne had not shot the eyes of the President on Chief Ayiri Emami.

 

 

 

Your Excellency, Sir, permit us to briefly highlight some of the facts associated with the squabble in Warri Kingdom in some chronological order, below.

 

 

 

WHO IS CHIEF AYIRI EMAMI?

 

Genealogically, Chief Ayiri Emami is, paternally, a descendant of Ologbotsere Eyinmisan(ren). He is, thus, qualified for, nominated and recommended to the then Ogiame Ikenwoli (deceased), the Olu of Warri, by the Ologbotsere Eyinminsan Descendants, as fit and proper person for the Ologbotsere title in 2017, consequent upon which Chief Ayiri Emami had the privilege of being conferred with the title. 

 

 

 

Interestingly, Chief Ayiri is maternally of Ilaje stock (who were aboriginal Ile Ife) of the Yoruba in Ondo State. It follows that he is also a YORUBA, a fact that seemed to have eluded the writers of the Media Statement.

 

 

 

One cannot fathom a person in Iwereland or even elsewhere that is better qualified to defend the Yoruba cause than Chief Ayiri Emami. So, why will Chief Emami discriminate against Yoruba in the Warri Kingdom and elsewhere? Or have we all forgotten the maternal pull on any child?

 

 

 

It is pertinent to note that His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, (CFR), The Ooni of Ife visited Warri. In his discussions with His Royal Majesty Ogiame Atuwase III, at Aghofen (the Olu’s Palace), he advised and stressed the need to amicably resolve the “conflict” that was apparent in the Warri Kingdom. 

 

 

 

The Ooni also visited Chief Ayiri Emami whereat His Imperial Majesty, the Ooni eulogized Chief Emami for been a respecter and a defender of the culture, tradition, heritage and values of Warri Kingdom. He advised that Chief Emami make himself available for reconciliation at all times.

 

 

 

We have it on good standing that the Ooni made his statement after he heard from both parties of the divides and also had the opportunity of perusing the instrument regulating succession to the throne of the Olu bearing in mind that the matter is in court.

 

 

 

His Imperial Majesty, on the second day, was roundly vilified for his advice to both parties and almost lynched by the so called “supporters” and hangers on the Olu, right in the Olu’s Palace. Thus, the advice of the Ooni of Ife and others fell on deaf ears, his comments were considered unpleasant, instead, all that we saw were some faceless groups calling the Ooni all sorts of unprintable names. 

 

 

 

The question that is begging for answer is; who is more qualified to speak for and on behalf of the Yoruba people on the topic than The Ooni of Ife? 

 

 

 

We wish to state that it is illusory and contrary to common sense, for anybody or group of persons to constitute themselves into spokespersons for the Yorubas, contrary to the reconciliatory stands of the Ooni of Ife bearing in mind that the main issue of the dispute is in court.

 

 

 

Therefore, such person or group(s) of persons cannot be taking serious by Mr. President.   

 

 

 

THE “CODIFIED” CUSTOMARY LAW THAT REGULATES SUCCESSION TO THE STOOL OF THE OLU OF WARRI.

 

 One of the legacies left behind for the present day Itsekiri by our forefathers is the Declaration that was made pursuant to THE 1979 TRADITIONAL RULERS AND CHIEF EDICT UNDER BENDEL STATE LEGAL NOTICE (B.S.L.N.) NO. 147 OF 1979, that is, essentially, now in operation, as DELTA STATE LAW.

 

 

 

This declaration only stated in writing what the procedure for selecting and crowning/installation of an Olu has been in Itsekiri.

 

It is note worthy that this procedure had earlier been drafted by the then leaders of the kingdom on the 26th day of September, 1931 bearing the Itsekiri history, custom and tradition in mind. The 1931 draft was sequel to the effort of the colonial masters in wanting to put an end to the interregnum (88 years) by restoring the monarchy. 

 

 

 

The then Colonial resident, John Beecroft invited the Itsekiri leaders to state the procedure to be followed in the installation of an Olu. This was what birthed the 1931 draft declaration. It was this 1931 declaration that regulated the succession of Prince Kebuwa Ejo as His Majesty, Ginuwa 11, The Olu of Warri on the 17th day of February, 1936. It was this same declaration that was followed when Prince Gbesimi Emiko was installed as His Majesty, Ogiame, Erejuwa II, Olu of Warri on the 24th of March, 1951. The justification for the 1931 declaration was to avert a re-occurrence of what led to the 88 years of interregnum and the situation such as is happening now in the Kingdom. 

 

 

 

The assemblage of all the customary laws regulating succession to the stool of various kingdoms and clans in the defunct Bendel State by the then Bendel State Government on or about 1978/79 was what necessitated the submission of the 1931 draft declaration to the then Bendel State government by the Itsekiri nation wherein His Majesty Ogiame Erejuwa II empowered Chief Omayone Mayuku the then Ologbotsere of Warri to lead Chief Brown Tenuma; The Iyatsere of Warri and Chief A. E. Ofoni; The Ojomo of Warri to submit the declaration to the government and now known as the 1979 Declaration.

 

 

 

The point must be made that Chief Ayiri Emami was in 1979 at best a child that was running around in his mother’s kitchen with no knowledge of anything called declaration. It logically follows that Chief Ayiri Emami was never involved in the making of the declaration at any time.

 

 

 

The 1979 version of the declaration was what regulated the installation of His Majesty, Ogiame Atuwatse II as the Olu of Warri in 1987 even as it was the same declaration that regulated the emergence of His Majesty, Ogiame Ikenwoli as Olu of Warri in 2015. 

 

 

 

Pointing out (without prejudice) that the extant declaration limits selection of the crown bearer to the last three Olus provided that the son of the immediate past is preferable to the brother of the immediate past, the brother of the immediate past is preferable to the uncle of the immediate past and the uncle of the immediate past is preferable to the nephew of the immediate past will not be out of place.

 

 

 

By the above order of preference, the incumbent Olu was the first point of call in 2015 being the son of Atuwatse II but because he was not qualified by the provision of the declaration hence his uncle (brother of the immediate past) was installed as His Majesty, Ogiame Ikewoli, the Olu of Warri. So, what has changed in 2021? Has the customary law been amended or repealed? The only thing that has changed between 2015 and 2021 was that whereas, Chief Ayiri Emami was neither Ologbotsere nor was he a member of the Olu Advisory Council (Ojoye Isan) in 2015, a position which he now occupies in 2021. The law in question has not been amended neither has it been repealed.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CONTENT OF THE LAW (DECLARATION)

 

Your Excellency, the declaration is very clear, express and unambiguous. For want of time and space, we shall go straight to the path that relates to the subject of discuss. That is who qualifies as an Olu as it relates to his mother? 

 

The declaration provides that the mother of the crown bearer shall either be an Itsekiri or Edo speaking origin without more. 

 

 

 

We must at this juncture state that Warri Kingdom is a negotiated kingdom of at least three tribes to wit: (1.) the monarch (Ginuwa I) and his entourage being from Edo (Bini) speaking people to reign over (2.) the Yorubas and the Igalla people which were collectively called “Itsekiri people” (Jekris) before the arrival of Ginuwa I. These were the two major set of people that formed the kingdom and in the wisdom of our forefathers, the mother of the crown bearer must come from either of these two set of people – that is; the Edo people where the monarch originally hail from or the Itsekiri people whom we were told were Yorubas and Igallas. How does this position culminate into discrimination against the Yoruba people when in reality, it is these set of Yoruba people that were met on ground that formed part of the people called Itsekiri?

 

 

 

On the other hand, Your Excellency, we have been told time without number, legally speaking, that no matter how bad (assuming without conceding that the law in question is a bad law) any law is, it must be respected and obeyed not until it is either repealed or amended. The law vested the midwifery of the succession process on the Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom, this was what qualifies Chief Ayiri Emami being the Ologbotsere, the supervisory role he was playing in the process and his insistence on the obedience to the law. So, Chief Ayiri’s only crime is his insistence on the protection of the fabrics of the legacies, heritage, values, of the Itsekiris people. 

 

 

 

Suffice to state that His Majesty, Ogiame Atuwatse II the father of the incumbent Olu, married not from either of the two tribes (Itsekiri and Edo) favored by the declaration, who himself was a beneficiary of this same declaration was a lawyer and he had everything to his favor if had wanted an amendment to the declaration. But he choose to, and did placed Itsekiri collective heritage well and above his personal interest, hence, he did not deem the declaration fit for an amendment. We doff our hat for him in this regard.

 

  

 

Your Excellency, Sir, any person or group(s) of persons who is in support of any act that will undermine the legacies of our forefathers should not be accorded any respect, therefore, the authors of the referred letters should be seen as persona non granta.

 

 

 

 

 

THE VISITATION OF THE OLU TO UGBORODO AND OKERE COMMUNITIES.

 

The so called “Itsekiri Human Rights Watch (IHRW) spoke of how Chief Ayiri intimidated the people of Ugborodo from coming out to welcome His Majesty Atuwatse III during his Majesty’s visitation to the said Ugborodo community etc, they however failed and or neglected to tell Mr. President that they (IHRW) are mere group of people who do not have an authority and or capacity to speak for and on behalf of the people of Ugborodo. 

 

 

 

To the best of our knowledge, there is a sitting Olaja-Orori in Ugborodo; Pa. Benson Dube Omadeli, just as Eghare Daniel Uwawah; The Eghare-Aja of Ugborodo under whose hands all Ugborodo correspondences emanates is alive and healthy. We wish to however leave this issue and meet them on the issues they raised in their letter. 

 

 

 

Mr. President, it is a statement of fact that the Olu visited Ugborodo community on the 2nd day of February, 2024. It is another statement of fact that the people of Ugborodo did not come out to welcome His Majesty as can be gleaned from the Itsekiri Human Rights Watch’s letter. We however, have it on good authority that the not coming out of the people of Ugborodo community to welcome the Olu has nothing to do with Chief Ayiri’s issue but the sharp division between the people of Ugborodo community and the Olu over the Olu’s attempt to want to circumvent the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) against the will of the Ugborodo people whose position is that the spirit and letters of the Act must be obeyed. This has pervaded both the print and online media in recent past so much so that it is no longer secrete. 

 

 

 

It must at this juncture be brought to the attention of Mr. President that it is not all Itsekiri communities that are oil producing and so, manning and running the affairs of the oil bearing communities is strictly the business of those from the oil bearing communities without any interference from the non oil bearing communities. Whereas some so called “supporters” and hangers on the Olu, always found in royal corridors, who are not from oil bearing communities; or who have failed in their political journey and now returned home to become “palace champions” and are hell bent in wanting to control the wealth from the oil communities, have ill-advised the monarch to want to centralize the power and control of the resources from the oil bearing communities in flagrant disregard for the provisions of the PIA which vested the control of the oil in the individual community where nature deposited the oil. This is what the Ugborodo people are against and as such, one of the causes of the division between the people of Ugborodo and the Olu even as it is also our findings that an attempt by the Traditional Ruler to want to suffocate the age long culture and tradition of the people of Ugborodo is another cause.

 

 

 

The point must be made that though the immediate causes of the division between the Olu and the People of Ugborodo has everything to do with the implementation of the PIA and an attempt to undermine their traditions as revealed by our investigation, this however did not mean that the people of Ugborodo community same as Okere community are not in solidarity with Chief Ayiri Emami in his quest for justice as far as the customary law regulating succession to the stool of the Olu is concern.

 

 

 

The visitation of His Majesty Atuwatse III to Okere community is the first time in history of Warri Kingdom of about 500 years old that an Olu visited Okere community whereas, the palace of the Olu is situated in Okere community, so, how do one explain one’s visitation to one’s place of abode? 

 

 

 

Your Excellency Sir, customarily and traditionally speaking, there are prescribed mode of, and designated places where the Olu offers, prayers for all Itsekiri (home and abroad). The Olu need not visit each and every community to offer prayers for his subjects. So, the saying that the Olu visited the duo communities to offer prayers to his people cannot hold waters. It is our findings that the use of olive oil by his Majesty to “cast and bind” deities believed in by the people and an attempt to impose youth executive on the youth of Okere community were part of the sources of the problems in Okere community.

 

 

 

We have, just as we are now reiterating that the Olu is but the custodian of the culture and not the culture so, he cannot by proclamation abolish the culture of the people particularly when the state law that gives recognition to the institution defines the institution as a “Traditional Ruler.”

 

 

 

Well, from our analysis, the closest reason for the Olu’s visitation to both communities is to show to the world that the monarch is in charge by taking the struggle to Chief Ayiri’s primary constituencies. It must be emphasize here that Chief Ayiri’s primary communities in Itsekiri are (1.) Obaghoro in Warri North LGA, (2.) Ugborodo in Warri South West LGA and (3.) Okere in Warri South LGA. So, for the handlers of the Olu to make His Majesty believe that such illustrious son like Chief Ayiri Emami will be deserted by his immediate family/communities (even if he was wrong let alone when it is the believe of the people that he was not) in time like the one at hand is funny and laughable and totally uncalled for.

 

 

 

CHIEF AYIRI EMAMI, APC, NSA AND THE PRESIDENT.

 

It is audible to the deaf and visible to the blind that Chief Ayiri is an outstanding APC member, so, enjoying the privilege of been close to the President and other appointees of the President should be a thing of joy to Itsekiris. But reverse is the case. The “pull him down syndrome” is the template upon which they base their judgment - If not me, it must not be another. 

 

 

 

While chief Ayiri was working assiduously for his party to win the 2023 general elections, those pointing fingers now were busy working against that interest. We have it on solid ground that the President, Amed Bola Tinubu the then candidate of the APC, during the electioneering intended to visit His Majesty, Ogiame, Atuwatse III, at His Majesty’s Palace in Warri, handsome amount of money was advanced to the Palace for preparation for the reception of the APC Presidential flag bearer, the money was collected, after which the unfortunate handlers of His Majesty swung into actions by which time, the Monarch became evasive. 

 

 

 

Mr. President, let us inform you that as a general rule, the Itsekiri people forbids their King from partisan politics. One of the very few exception(s) to this general rule is when an Itsekiri is involved in the context against non Itsekiris. Mr. President is covered by this exception by way of marriage and there was no any other Presidential candidate in the 2023 General elections that falls within that bracket of exception. The reasonable Itsekiris were however, amazed when their monarch who failed to grant their in-law audience opened wide the Palace and welcomed another Presidential candidate who is neither an Itsekiri by blood nor an Itsekiri by marriage. 

 

  

 

It is our view that the above shenanigan did not perturbed Chief Ayiri and his APC team if we are asked to speak on that. What is mind disturbing to right thinking Itsekiris was when Chief Ayiri was invited to the Palace on the 16th day April, 2023, after the then APC Presidential candidate now President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, had won the presidential election, under the pretence of reconciliation but to be humiliated as a calculated attempt to hoodwink the President Elect (then) into believing that Chief Ayiri Emami is a dissident that should not be associated with.

 

 

 

Having seen that the event of 16th day of April, 2023, has not shot the Presidency door against Chief Ayiri Emami, the next step is to by every means humanly possible not minding legality, as a continuation of the struggle of enemies of progress of Warri Kingdom, come up with the very cheap and weak blackmail of how Chief Ayiri has boasted of President’s and or NSA’s backing, in addition to the very weak sentiment of the Yoruba motherhood of Atuwatse III as being the reason why Chief Ayiri is opposed to his Majesty’s succession to the throne without any evidence of when and where Chief Ayiri made such statements. 

 

    

 

OUR OBSERVATION AND CONCLUSION.

 

It is our observation that the only thing the authors of the two letters referenced above have sub consciously succeeded in telling the world is that His Majesty, Ogiame, Atuwatse III is not popular in his kingdom instead, Chief Ayiri Emami is in control of the kingdom.

 

 

 

It can be said that the head of a kingdom in this case, Warri Kingdom, Olu of Warri while standing alone against ALL the Principal members of the kingdom (the Chiefs) is either 10% greater than all the Chiefs (Principal members) of the kingdom put together on one side or equal to all the Chiefs put together on one side. So, a situation where the Olu is standing together with all other Chiefs against Chief Ayiri Emami who is standing alone (by their own showing) and yet they are having sleepless night is a pointer to the fact that something is fundamentally wrong, which only the truth can fix. 

 

 

 

We are on a concluding note calling on His Excellency, The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to advise His Majesty, Ogiame, Atuwatse III, the Olu of Warri, to look inward to the possibilities of reconciling the dispute ravaging the kingdom rather than giving hears to those advising him to be searching/looking for what is not missing.   

 

 

 

We maintain that reconciling this dispute is in the best interest of His Majesty.

 

 

 

 

 

PRINCE CLEM. ADE OMOTOYE, ESQ.

 CHAIRMAN

 

 

 

ARUBI AJOFOTAN

SECRETARY

 

 

 

TUOYO CHARLES OFOYAEKPONE

CO-ORDINATOR


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