• Tony Igele

Oba Ewuare II Roars In Isekhure Gate.

Benin City - Many who have been observing events in Benin Kingdom, even before Oba Erediauwa joined his ancestors, will not be surprised with last Tuesday suspension of the Isekhurhe of Benin Kingdom, Chief Nosakhare Isekhurhe, by Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku

Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II. One of the Oba’s first decisions, which has brought sanity to the communities in Benin Kingdom and even beyond, was the banning of Community Development Associations (CDAs). Apart from that, the monarch told his chiefs to either sit up or quit. So his mission and vision were clear from the day he ascended the throne.

So, when on Tuesday, Oba Ewuare roared again, it was in the direction of one of the powerful Benin chiefs. Isekhurhe holds the powerful position of the custodian of the shrines of the Oba. He is viewed as the chief priest of the kingdom, the one who communicates the words of the ancestors to the Oba. He was one of the closest chiefs to Oba Erediauwa who joined his ancestors but it is still unknown what went wrong between him and Oba Ewuare II even while His Majesty was the Crown Prince of Benin. Edoconnect, however, learnt that there were attempts to settle the rift between the then hear apparent and Isekhurhe but it hit a brick wall. It was rumoured that the suspended chief had issues with the Iyase of Benin Kingdom, Chief Sam Igbe, who is the leader of all the palace chiefs. As the chief priest of the kingdom, he was accused of seeing himself as superior to other chiefs which may have pitched him against the Iyase, who is the prime minister of Benin.

Meanwhile, the absence of Isekhurhe around the palace since the emergence of Oba Ewuare II became worrisome and a pointer that something was wrong. The suspended chief, an outspoken personality who is quick to lecture any one about Benin culture and tradition and that actually endeared him to historians and journalists who throng his palace for one information or the other, was absent during the coronation of the Oba of Benin, but, as Edoconnect was informed, the Benin traditional institution is structured in a manner that even when one chief is not able to perform his duties, there is always an alternative route. Anyone from that same family can perform the duties.

As a result, the Ihama of Benin, who is the leader of the Ihiogbe palace society, which Isekhurhe belongs to, performed the rituals due to be carried out by the chief priest both the during the mourning of Oba Erediauwa and the coronation of Oba Ewuare II. As part of his reforms and to maintain the culture and tradition of the kingdom, Oba Ewuare II, through the Prime Minister of Benin, Igbe, the Esogban, Chief David Edebiri, the Osuma, Chief Norense Ozigbo-Esere, the Esere, Chief Stanley O.Obamwonyi, the Eguezigbon, Chief Osemwonta Obamwonyi, Chief Edionwe Oliha (Oliha of Benin), Chief Amos Osunbor (Eson of Benin), Chief E.Oviasogie (Eribo of Benin) and Chief E.U.Uzamere (Ine of Benin), rose last Tuesday in their full Benin traditional regalia and suspended Isekhurhe indefinitely.

In a statement, the Iyase explained why the chief priest was sanctioned. Ugbe said: “The Isekhurhe of Benin is a member of the Ihogbe Palace Society of Benin, the leader of which is the Ihama of Benin. Ihama was one of the traditional spiritual personages who travelled with Prince Oranmiyan from Ife to Benin-City in about the middle of the twelfth century.

Isekhurhe was, as the family grew in Benin, one of his male children. The present responsibilities of Isekhurhe were part of the traditional duties of Ihama. When, as a result of the old age, the Ihama found it difficult to walk from his Ogbe in Ihogbe quarters to the palace to perform some of his allocated rites, he pleaded with the reigning Oba Ewedo to empower one of his sons to take over the performance of the rites on his behalf. Uku Akpolokpolo approved and later, in about 1280 AD, created the title Isekhurhe, the position in which the descendants of Isekhurhe functioned for their father until the present Isekhurhe decided, for reasons best known to him, to desecrate it”.

The Iyase went on: “He (Isekhurhe) designated his house as a palace where he held court in which he sometimes reviewed cases already dealt with in the Oba’s palace. He declared that other chiefs were not senior to him and that he would not pay respects to them as palace cultures demand. He turned himself into a be all and end all, and a seeming authority in the Benin culture and tradition, especially palace procedures. He even pronounced himself the head of the royal family.

“The profanities and denigrations that issued from and his followers during our mourning period are better just forgotten. During this period, he told those who cared to listen that neither the Emwinekhua nor the consequent coronation could hold without him. The Iyase sent for him to enable these matters to be discussed with him. He demurred. The Council of Chiefs also sent for him, yet he refused to answer them. During Emwinekhua, he neglected and deliberately refused to perform his traditional duties before, during and after the event and has since remained infinitely unrepentant.

“We cannot believe that anyone, any Benin individual who knows what the motivating Benin cultures and tradition are and have won the toga of a Benin chief could do what Isekhurhe did these past two years. We find it difficult to accept even the idea that he was a chief. The disconnect has become actual and natural. We recommend in the circumstances therefore, that he be suspended; and with the authority of the Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, Oba of Benin, he is with effect from today, 17th of January, 2017, suspended indefinitely from performing the duties of the Isekhurhe title which he now bears. Those duties were originally performed by the Ihama of Benin. They will now revert to the Ihama N’Ihogbe”.

Edoconnect efforts to get Isekhurhe to comment on the allegations against him were unsucessful. However, his family members were said reviewing the situation and will react to the suspension after consulting with relevant authorities.

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