OpenLife Nigeria reports that what seems endless disagreements in the royal kingdom of Warri, Delta State between the Olu of Warri, His Majesty, Ogiamé Atuwatse III and Ayiri Emami, a deposed Ologbotsere of Warri, has exploded to somewhat uncontrollable dimension as the first round of the battle saw Emami outsmarting the Olu in collecting royal beads and other insignia of office.
According to the story, the Olu appears to have crossed the Rubicon in his long-drawn disagreement with Ayiri Emami, when on Sunday, April 16, 2023, he installed Chief Oma Eyewuoma, as the new holder of the highest Itsekiri traditional title.
Prior to his installation as Ologbotsere, the traditional prime minister of Warri Kingdom, Eyewuoma was the Aboludero of Warri.
The immediate past holder of the title, Emami, a businessman and political activist, was deposed by the Olu of Warri on October 5, 2021 at a ceremony held at the palace.
Emami as the Ologbotsere challenged the process that led to the emergence of Ogiame Atuwatse III as the Olu of Warri, insisting that there were some violations.
As the controversy raged, two crowns of the ancient kingdom were allegedly stolen from the palace and a police investigation indicted Emami and other individuals, including two princes who were declared wanted. Emami was arraigned.
The court case and missing crowns notwithstanding, the Olu of Warri, upon ascending the throne, has been carrying on his traditional and social duties with his reconstituted council of chiefs without an Ologbotsere.
Palace sources however hinted that there had been interventions from several quarters to settle the dispute among the parties involved and ensure unity among natives of the Itsekiri nation.
However, the latest in the peace and reconciliatory moves between the Olu of Warri and the Ologbotsere descendants led by Chief Ayirimi Emami, hit a brick wall last Sunday as the scheduled meeting at the Aghofen, the palace, witnessed the installation of a new Ologbotsere.
The development surfaced after Emami rejected the monarch’s offer to install him as the “Eyeku” of Warri; a title held by his late father, Chief Akonu Emami.
The reconciliatory meeting was witnessed by the immediate past Governor of Delta State, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan; ex-president, Christian Association of Nigeria and Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, notable palace chiefs, as well several Itsekiris who thronged the Aghófen Hall for the meeting.
Prior to the meeting, the Olu had invited Warri chiefs to report at the palace with their insignias of office, beads and swords, for a revalidation exercise.
Addressing the gathering, the Olu of Warri, who prior to the installation of the new Ologbotsere, had collected symbols of the Ologbotsere title (beads and ‘Uda’ sword) from Emami, reminded his subjects that the conferment of chieftaincy titles on anyone was solely the prerogative of the Olu.
The monarch noted that as a father to all, he was using the occasion to offer forgiveness to erring subjects, noting that “forgiveness and reconciliation are virtues that have the potential of making us stronger as people and as a kingdom.’’
In a long speech, the Olu of Warri stressed his superiority as king over Iwereland, disclosing that he understood from the dreams he had that Emami should bear his late father’s title.
The monarch added, “Today is a very unusual day. But we will do something unusual. I won’t do this publicly again, but there is a reason why today is public. An opportunity for us to come together and reconcile. The outcome is for the good and betterment of Itsekiri, irrespective of anybody’s reaction.
“God does not have an opposite. Ogiame does not have an enemy. In this kingdom, there is no rival. The beads on the neck of our chiefs are personal property of the Ogiame. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.
“True reconciliation will not be forced on Ogiame. The terms will be determined by Ogiame. We have a divine reason to do this publicly.
“It is not an easy thing for me to do this. I had to humble myself. Itsekiris want Ogiame to be proud at all times because we are a proud people. As directed and determined by God, pride is actually not one of the ways of God.
“I had been battling for almost two years on how I could come down to address this Ologbotsere issue. I was covering Ayiri Emami even when I was in Idaneken.
“I authored an apology for him to read. As it happened, the apology didn’t surface. God wants this matter to be resolved. I understand the fears some of you might have. Every human being deserves a second chance. Monarchy is a reflection of how God operates.
“Ikenwoli told me, “What I did privately with Ayiri, do it publicly for all to see.’’ This was after O.N. Rewane, Chief Mayuku and Chief Akonu Emami appeared to me in a dream. None of you here is better than this man (Chief Ayiri).
“I am tired of fighting. I will not humiliate the Ologbotsere family. The Ologbotsere title remains the most senior title. Ikenwoli like Atuwatse II knew what they saw in this man (Chief Ayirimi Emami). Let everyone stand up and celebrate this man (referring to Chief Emami).
“I do not want Itsekiri to fight. I have given him a chance for redemption, to work for the interest of Itsekiri. He has conceded he will not accept his father’s title.”
It was gathered that the stalled peace initiative was brokered by Pastor Oritsejafor who is also a prominent Itsekiri.
Earlier, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, was in Warri a few months ago, during which he met with the Olu of Warri and Chief Ayiri Emami separately.
In a dramatic twist, Emami, who left the Olu of Warri palace after rejecting the king’s offer, said he remained the Ologbotsere of Warri. He noted that the traditional beads and sword he submitted on Sunday to the king during the meeting at the palace where he was deposed were fake.
He claimed that he still had the original traditional beads and sword presented to him by (former kings) Ogiame Atuwaste II and Ogiame Ikenwoli and the Uda.
Emami said he did that because he had a dream about what would happen during the reconciliation meeting and he was prepared.
Addressing Ologbotsere descendants and supporters, who accompanied him to his residence, Emami disclosed that the original beads and sword, authenticating him as the Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom were still intact.
He displayed the traditional beads and the sword to buttress his claim, saying, “These three beads; the bead of Atuwatse II, my late father and that of Ikenwoli, are my inheritance. I did not buy them. Have you seen me with one bead before?
“What happened at the palace today was not what we agreed on during Ologbotsere descendants and myself with the Olu of Warri. I was open for genuine reconciliation but suspected that the king and some of his chiefs were not sincere, hence, I have to go there with another set of beads and sword.
You can see the original beads and sword right in my house (displaying the beads and sword to the Ologbotsere descendants and his followers at his home)”
Also, the spokesman for the Ologbotsere descendants worldwide, Alex Eyengho, while speaking with journalists on the development, emphasised that the title of Ologbotsere is conferred on an individual “till death.”
According to him, Emami accepting the title of his father, which is a “lesser title in the name of peace,” will amount to “peace of the graveyard,” which nobody wants.
Eyengho stated, “What happened in the palace today (Sunday), was part of a script that has been written. We had a premonition of the event that would play out. Hence, the bead and sword presented at the palace were fake. It has been an ongoing script.
The Ologbotsere family is not stupid. The original beads and sword are intact. Once you give a title to someone, it is till death. You don’t take it back. For the Ologbotsere title to be given, it must come from the family of Ologbotsere, on request from the king. Chief Ayirimi Emami remains the Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom.’’
As Emami is unyielding, the Olu of Warri is also sticking to his guns, maintaining that “the outcome is for the good and betterment of Itsekiri, irrespective of anybody’s reaction.’’
Some observers of the events emanating from the revered kingdom are of the view that the last of the matter had yet to be heard considering both parties’ rigid bearings
Contacted, a Warri-based industrialist, Chief Lucky Omonigho, said that some powerful forces had continued to frustrate the patriotic efforts of the monarch for their own selfish interests. According to him, the monarch wants to ensure that the people of the kingdom, not a few individuals, benefit from oil firms operating in the kingdom.
Another Itsekiri indigene, Madam Veronica Ogene, however, called for a truce between the Olu of Warri and his chiefs stressing that the campaign for peaceful coexistence in the community should be sustained for the much-needed socio-economic development of the kingdom.