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BTC Chronicles the Many Provocations by Obaseki Against Benin Throne, Gives Conditions for Proposed Fence-mending - TELL Magazine

BTC Chronicles the Many Provocations by Obaseki Against Benin Throne, Gives Conditions for Proposed Fence-mending

Benin Traditional Council
Benin Traditional Council

As the gulf between the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led Edo State Government and the Palace of the Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewuare II, continued to widen, the Benin Traditional Council, BTC, on Thursday gave conditions precedent to the planned amicable resolution of contentious issues between the two parties as proposed by the governor last week.

The BTC also, for the records, went down memory lane to trace the genesis of the conflict, and the many perceived acts of provocation and disdain for the Benin throne by Governor Obaseki.

In a statement signed by solicitors to the BTC, Yemi Akinseye-George, and Edoba Omoregie, both professors of Law and senior advocates of Nigeria, SAN, dated May 22, 2024, and titled ‘Re: Plan For Amicable Resolution Of Conflicts Between Edo State Government And the Benin Traditional Institution’, the rift was traced to “the bitter dispute” over ownership of the ancient artefacts looted from the Palace of the Oba of Benin by the British Colonial forces during the Benin Massacre of 1897.

The BTC said while it was not averse to Obaseki’s proposed intervention, such amicable resolution could only be “genuinely achieved” through “The abolition by the Edo State Government of the new seven traditional councils in Edo South; Complete restoration of the statutory financial entitlement of the BTC to the status quo prior to the date of the creation of those seven traditional councils Edo South; and the refund of the balance of such statutory financial entitlement of the BTC withheld since that date; A clear commitment by the Edo State Government to avoid further interference with the internal affairs of the Benin Traditional Institution as prescribed by the Benin Customary Law, including the established disciplinary processes, under the authority of the Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, His Royal Majesty Ewuare II, Oba of Benin and; The withdrawal of the letter issued by the Edo State Government revoking the concession of Oba Akenzua II Cultural Centre; and the restoration of the Centre by the State Government to its previous enviable condition, to be suitable for the purpose of the concession”.

According to the solicitors, “When the idea of creating new traditional councils in Edo South was subsequently mooted by some Enigie in a letter to the State Government of November 2022, the BTC, through the lyase of Benin and other chiefs of the Oba Palace, made formal and informal efforts to dissuade the government from acceding to the request of the applicant Enigie. The BTC had emphasised that the government’s plan would amount to balkanising the Benin Kingdom as there is no other traditional ruler in Edo South to preside over the proposed traditional councils than His Royal Majesty, the Oba of Benin.

“Despite the conciliatory effort of the BTC, the State Government proceeded to announce the creation of new traditional councils in the seven local government areas of Edo South to co-exist with the BTC. The State Government also seized the statutory financial entitlement of the BTC. The decision of government to create the new traditional councils is currently being challenged by the BTC before the State High Court.

“Upon the creation of the new traditional councils, the State Governor publicly received some Enigie who had mooted the idea, including those suspended for sundry violations of traditional norms. Following the petition of the BTC of impersonation against two Enigie, the police brought a criminal charge against one of them and was at the verge of arraigning the other when the State Government intervened by nullifying the first charge. The State Government also wrote to the National Assembly to affirm that the creation of the new traditional councils in Edo South is a fait accompli. The two Enigie have since filed a joint suit in the State High Court to challenge their suspension. In the midst of these conflicts, the State Government has, without due process, written to His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewuare II on 19th April 2024 to revoke the concession of Oba Akenzua II Cultural Centre, a concession which has been frustrated since November 2016 by the decision of the State Government to convert the Centre to a motor park.

“The BTC emphasizes that His Royal Majesty, the Oba of Benin, is the father of all Benin people, including members of the Royal family. Therefore, any matter that affects the customs and traditions of the Benin people, of which His Royal Majesty is the exclusive custodian, cannot be reduced to a family affair of the Benin Royal Family as asserted by the State Government in its public release on the suit instituted by the two Enigie against His Royal Majesty, the Oba of Benin”.

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