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Crisis deepens as search for new Olu of Warri intensifies

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A meeting scheduled for today at Ode-Itsekiri, Delta State, the ancestral home of the Itsekiri people, to resolve the rivalry emanating from the selection of a new Olu of Warri, has further deepened the crisis in the kingdom.

Head of the royal house, Emmanuel Okotie-Eboh, had last week suspended Head of the Olu’s Advisory Council and Ologbotsere of Warri, Chief Ayiri Emami for rejecting a popular choice of the ruling house, Prince Tsola Emiko.

But he (Emami) had rejected today’s meeting, declaring it illegal and urged the police to arrest any individual or group of persons who convene a meeting.

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Although the traditional council was yet to formally announce the death of the Olu, HRM Ogiame Ikenwoli, who allegedly passed away on December 20, the different groups, which had engaged in fierce contest over the selection of a new Olu, had inadvertently revealed the secret.

The battle to select a consensus candidate for the throne worsened last week following alleged rejection of Prince Emiko, who was said to have been disqualified by the Chief Ayiri-led Olu’s Advisory Council.

Emiko was reportedly disqualified from succeeding his father because his mother is Yoruba, just as the Olu’s Advisory Council quoted an edict that successor to the Olu of Warri throne must be one whose mother is either from Itsekiri or Benin Kingdom.

Surprised at Emiko’s disqualification, Okotie-Eboh had announced Chief Ayiri’s suspension as the Ologbotsere and Head of the Olu’s Advisory Council.

However, members of the Ginuwa ll Ruling House and majority of Itsekiri people dismissed Ayiri’s suspension, saying the development constituted a threat to peace in Itsekiri.

While condemning the proposed meeting for today at Ode-Itsekiri to select a new Olu, the Ologbotsere in a statement, said: “By virtue of the declaration BDSL 147 pursuant to the Traditional Rulers and Chiefs Edict of 1979, which guides the procedure for selection of a successor to the throne, when an Olu is indisposed, it is only the Ologbotsere that has the power to summon the general assembly of the Itsekiri nation.

“Any action taken by any other persons is null and void and a contradiction of the edict.

“The Ologbotsere convenes a meeting of members of the Ruling House to the Palace (Aghofen) to choose a successor and is presided over by the oldest man in the Ruling House, failing which the Olare-Ebi or Olore-Ebi presides.

“All sons of the deceased Olu and members of the Ruling House below 18 are excluded from the meeting.”

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