‘Why Benin palace suspended Isekhure’
All is not well in the palace as the Benin Traditional Council (BTC) has suspended the Isekhure of the kingdom, Chief Nosakhare Isekhure, over alleged dereliction of duties.
At a press conference addressed by the Iyase (Prime Minister) of Benin, Chief Sam Igbe, the BTC also alleged that he has turned his residence into a mini-palace where he held court, and even review cases already decided by the Oba and his chiefs.
But when contacted by The Guardian, Isekhure declined comment. But a source close to his family said they would react when they are communicated as he said the Isekhure cannot be suspended through the media. He also said that no chief can summon the Isekhure except the Oba of Benin.
Isekhure is the Chief Priest of Benin. The palace is now saying that the original responsibilities of the Chief Priest were carried out by the Ihama of Benin Kingdom who is the head of Ihogbe Palace Society that to which the Isekhure belongs. It stated that during the reign of Oba Ewedo in the12th Century, the Ihama then due to old age could no longer walk from his quarters to the palace to perform his functions and requested the Oba to empower one of his sons to perform the duties until the “present Isekhure decided for reasons best known to him to desecrate it.”
Igbe, accompanied by other top chiefs including the Esogban of Benin, Chief David Edebiri, said the Isekhure allegedly desecrated the duties of the title without regard for the palace.
He went on: “Of course, gratifications were there offered or forced and collected. He used his position to influence new chiefs celebrating their investiture to perform certain rites in his residence, during which monies, kalolanuts and drinks were collected. Senior chiefs were at times openly bad-mouthed and vilified by him, and during those times, he declared that the chiefs were not senior to him and that he would not pay respects to them again 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.”
A statement jointly signed by Igbe, Edebiri, Osuma of Benin, Chief Norense Ozigbo-Esere, Esere of Benin, Chief Stanley Obamwonyi, Eguezigbon of Benin, Chief Osemwota Obamwonyi, Oliha of Benin Chief Edionwe Oliha, Eson of Benin, Chief Amos Osunbor, Eribo of Benin, Chief E, Oviasogie, Ine of Benin, Chief E. U. Uzamere and Secretary of BTC, Frank Irabor said Ishekhure did not play his roles during the mourning of the former monarch and the coronation ceremonies of Oba Ewuare II and that when he was invited by the Iyase of Benin to sort out the issues he refused.
They added: “The Council of Chiefs then also sent for him, yet he refused to answer them.“During the Emwinekhue (obsequies), he neglected and deliberately refused to perform his traditional duties before, during and after the event, and has since remained infinitely unrepentant.
“We recommend in the circumstances, therefore, that he be suspended; and with the authority of 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 Isekhure title which he now bears. Those duties were originally performed by the Ihama of Benin. They will now revert to the Ihama N’Ihogbe.”