The Benin Traditional Council, BTC, has suspended Nosakhare Isekhure, as the Isekhure (Chief Priest) of Benin Kingdom indefinitely for alleged intransigence.
Acting on the authority of the Oba of Benin, Omo N’ Oba N’Edo, Ewuare II, the BTC announced the suspension of Isekhure at a news conference in Benin on Tuesday.
The Iyase (Prime Minister) of Benin, Chief Sam Igbe, who addressed newsmen, said “Chief Isekhure desecrated the position he held in trust for the palace.
“He operated a parallel palace where he took bribes and reviewed already decided cases.”
Igbe announced that the duties earlier performed by the Isekhure, “have now reverted to the original owner, the Ihama of Benin, who is the head of the Ihama N’ihogbe.”
The Iyase, who went down memory lane, explained that “the responsibilities initially being performed by the Isekhure were part of the traditional duties of Ihama.”
He said the duties were handed over to the Isekhure family when the original Ihama became old and could no longer perform his duties during the reign of Oba Ewedo about 1280 AD, who then created the Isekhure title.
Igbe said that Isekhure, in the last few years “designated his house as a palace where he held court and sometimes, reviewed cases already dealt with in the Oba’s palace.”
The BTC, which accused Isekhure of corruption, said “of course gratifications were 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, kola nuts and drinks were collected.”
He accused Isekhure of being disrespectful to the palace.
“He turned himself into a be-all and all-knowing authority in the Benin culture and tradition, especially palace procedures.
“The profanities and denigrations that issued from him and his followers during our mourning period are better just forgotten.
“During this period, he told all those who cared to listen to him that neither the Emwin nekhua (Oba burial rites) nor the consequent coronation could hold without him.
“During Emwin nekhua, he neglected and deliberately refused to perform his traditional duties before, during and after the event, and has since remained infinitely unrepentant.
“We cannot believe that anyone, any Benin individual who knows what the motivating Benin culture are, and have worn the toga of a Benin chief could do what Isekhure did these past two years.
“We find it difficult to accept the idea that he was a chief. The disconnect has become actual and natural.
“We recommend in the circumstances therefore, that he be suspended and with the authority of Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolopkolo, Ewuare II, Oba of Benin.
“He is, with effect from today, Jan. 17, 2017, suspended indefinitely from performing the duties of Isekhure title.
“Those duties were originally performed by Ihama of Benin. They will now revert to the Ihama N’Ihogbe,” he said. (Kevin Okunzuwa/NAN)