Edo: Setting the Records Straight: Was the Oba of Benin Sued to Court?

Oba of Benin Kingdom, Omo ‘N Oba Oku Akpolorkpolor, Oba Ewuare II
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Edo: Setting the Records Straight: Was the Oba of Benin Sued to Court?

By Obasogie Imasogie.

Who sued the Oba to court – Two enigie (Enogie of Abudu/Evbuobanosa and Enogie of egbaen-siluko) who were suspended by the Oba.

What is their case – That the Oba does not have the legal and constitutional power to suspend them as enigie. They contend that only the state government has that power according to law.

The issue started in 2022 when some enigie in Edo south (Benin kingdom) headed by Prof Gregory Akenzua, the enogie of Abudu/Evbuobanosa and a paternal uncle to the Oba of Benin, wrote to the Edo state government to implement a 1979 edict on chiefs and traditional rulers in the state.

They urged the government to create traditional councils in the 7 local government in Edo south so that each local government traditional council can administer the affairs of its enigies.

It should be noted that this is the system being practised in other part of the state except Edo south. The whole of Edo south only has the Benin traditional council headed by the Oba of Benin. The BTC is responsible for all the enigie, chiefs and other traditional functionaries in Benin kingdom.

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The governor granted the enigie an audience and promised to look into the matter. The governor noted that if implemented, the system will enhance local government governance. The government purportedly later issued a statement approving the requests of the enigie but it was never implemented because when the Oba was consulted, he disapproved, calling it an attempt to divide his kingdom.

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So, in respect to the Oba, the governor aborted the implementation. Thereafter through series of events, the Oba suspended the leaders of the enigie while others out of respect for the Oba, denounced the group. The two suspended enigie then decided to sue the Oba to court to challenge the authority of the Oba to suspend them.

Were they right to sue the Oba to court – According to Benin traditions and customs, they are wrong to sue the Oba. In fact it is considered an abomination to contend with the Oba. Afterall, Aiguobataikpen, Aiguobatile and Aiguobasimwin.

This is why all sons and daughters of Benin are condemning the act and are speaking out in solidarity of the Oba. To the Benin people, the Oba is a god and cannot be wrong. No one dares challenge his authority. He owns everyone and everything. He is the sovereign and the people are his subjects.

Do they have the right to sue the Oba to court – Under the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, they have a right to seek redress in court for any matter and against anybody. The only people with immunity are the president, vice president, governors and deputy governors. Unfortunately, traditional rulers are not included.

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Do they have a legitimate case – The legitimacy of thier case will be decided by the court. Constitutionally and legally, there seems to be a law backing their contention. However, the creation of enigie is a pre-colonial and a pre constitution phenomenon. They are appendages to the palace of the Oba of Benin and as such derive their authority and legitimacy from the palace.

To that extent, they are created to serve at the pleasure of the Oba. So the Oba has authority to suspend or even scrap an enogie title. But Benin is under the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, only the court can decide what is legal and what is not.

What is the role of Gov Obaseki in the case. Did Obaseki sue the Oba to court – According to the court summons, Obaseki did not sue the Oba to court. In fact the enigie did not only sue the Oba, they also sued the state government headed by Obaseki to court too. So the case is between the 2 enigies on one side and both Edo state government and the Oba of Benin on the other side. If at all, Obaseki Is a co defendant to the Oba in the case.

Why are people saying Obaseki has sued the Oba to court – It is believed that this narrative originated from some politicians and it is purely political. They are intentionally misinforming the people so they can turn them against the governor and by extension his party because of the coming elections. They know how highly the Benin people revere their Oba and anybody seen as an enemy to the Oba is automatically an enemy of the people.

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They are trying to take advantage of this for political gains. It is very dangerous, reckless and irresponsible. The Oba is apolitical. He is the father of all. To drag his name into their political propaganda is calous and condemnable. The issues leading to this case has been on for over 2 years. It is only now drawing this much attention because it is only now the politicians have decided to get involved.

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The Oba has come out in the past to thank the governor for defending the traditions and customs of the Benin people by taking his side in this matter. The Oba said it was Obaseki who prevented the group of enigie headed by the two enigie who are now in court from creating parallel traditional councils in all local government areas in Edo south. So it is shocking that it is the same Obaseki that is now being accused of being against the Oba.

Unfortunately, majority of the people will not fact check any information before running with it. Hence the widespread misinformation on the matter.
Let’s try and set the record straight.

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