Some Itsekiri indigenes protesting the planned conferment of the Ologbotsere title on Chief Ayiri Emami by the Olu of Warri Kingdom, HRM. Ogiame Ikenwoli. Photos: Akpokona Omafuaire.
By Egufe Yafugborhi
WARRI—JAKPA people, joined by teeming other Itsekiri folk, yesterday, besieged the palace of His Majesty, Ogiame Ikenwoli, the Olu of Warri, in protest against the Olu’s proposed conferment of Jakpa heritage title, Ologbotsere (Prime Minister) of Warri Kingdom on industrialist and politician, Chief Ayiri Emami.
Meanwhile, the Olu suspended plans to install a new Ologbotsere (Prime Minister) of Warri kingdom in response to the mass protest by his subjects who besieged his palace.
Teeming Jakpa people, owners of the exalted Itsekiri heritage title, joined by other subjects had surrounded the palace at dawn, yesterday, shutting all entrances and exits to the palace to all persons, with a vow to stay put until the Olu rescinds the choice of Emami who they said is unqualified for the title.
Also suspended by the monarch were the conferment of the titles of Iyatsere on Chief Johnson Atserunleghe and Uwangue on Mr. Gabriel Awala.
A movie producer, Alex Eyengho who disclosed the development to Vanguard said: “The Olu graciously listened to the voice of the Itsekiri people. He has already sent words to the concerned families that the Itsekiri people do not want the three men, and as such, fresh names should be submitted.”
Earlier, Weyimi Agbateyinero, who presented a position paper before some ranking chiefs of the kingdom, further claimed that they also have the backing of Itsekiri Leaders of Thought, ILoT and Lagos-based Alpha May Club, on the protest against the conferment, but ILoT chairman, Chief Edward Okpoko, could not be reached to confirm the claim at the time of sending the report.
Agbateyinero, in a position paper said, “Persons so nominated in the selection and nomination of Ologbotsere fall short of all known traditional standards and requirements paraded by previous occupants of such chieftaincies in terms of age, integrity, intellectual capability, status, etc.
“The issues surrounding the selection of Iyasere and Uwangue titles did not follow all known traditional procedures and processes. Nominees for the Iyasere and Uwangue titles also lack the requirements for such exalted chieftaincy titles.”
Prince Emiko reacts
Earlier, in his reaction to the grievances, Prince Emiko said: “There are not so many issues to confuse anybody. Some titles in the land are family titles. Even the Olu has no power as such as to who will be holders of such titles. The Ologbotsere title happens to be one of such. The head of the Ologbotsere family as of today is Pa Okporoku who crowned the Olu December 12th 2015.
“It is not true that the Olu wants to impose anyone, that’s why it is so annoying. In the last one year, the title family has been engaged in meetings almost every other week in the last one year, trying to agree on who to present. Finally, about three months ago, they came in large numbers to the palace, led by Pa Okporoku and all the seniors.
“It is a large family with about twelve gates. All came to present a letter to the Olu, nominating two persons, Chief Ayiri Emami and Chief Eyewoma. Two weeks ago, the Olu called the family leaders again and said I am getting ready to give out this title. Of the two nominees you presented in a letter to me, I give you seven days to go back, pick one and bring me a result.
“The family went outside the sitting room in the palace, came back to the Olu and said they don’t need seven days, that Chief Eyewoma does not qualify for the office because he is born of a woman in the family. Unanimously they said their end decision was Chief Ayiri. That’s the story.”