Indigenes of Obateru Village, near Ughoton, in Ovia North-East Local Government Area of Edo, have petitioned the Oba of Benin over the planned installation of Mr Afona Isibor as Priest (Ohen) of Obagbeni Village in the same council area.
In their letter of protest, signed by the Uzukpogieva (second most elderly man), Mr Emmanuel Uwagboe and Secretary, Mr Kevin Okunzuwa, on behalf of elders of the village, the indigenes claimed that there was neither a shrine nor a priest (Ohen) in Obateru village to warrant such a position.
According to the priest, Isibor and his cohorts, in their deceit and desperation to claim affinity to Obateru, a village they had earlier claimed does not exist, clandestinely chose another name, Obagbeni, to refer to the same Obateru Village to deceive the palace.
The Obateru people, who described themselves as the original settlers of the village, with affinity to Ughoton, said only one priest (Ohen Okun) was recognised even by the palace.
They appealed to the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, to investigate Isibor’s deceit and sacrilegious activities.
In the petition ,the people appealed that the planned installation be suspended.
They alleged that Isibor, in connivance with some influential individuals in the palace, had manipulated facts to deceive the palace by dragging in Obateru’s name in the controversy, pointing out that it “is currently a subject of litigation an Court of Appeal, Benin.
The petitioners wondered why Isibor, who had been parading himself as an Ohen Oriaza, as contained in several documents , now wanted the palace’s approval for a position he had appropriated to himself.
Arising from Isibor’s alleged deceit and cunny maneuvering to misinform and mislead the palace on the position of the priesthood, the elders and the people of Obateru urged the Oba to suspend his installation forthwith in order not to drag the palace into disrepute.
“Your Majesty, may we quickly add that Obateru is in court with its neighbouring village, Evbuorokho, over the same contentious issue of its existence as an autonomous village.
“While a Benin High Court has given judgment in suit No. HOCK/45/2008, in favour of Obateru Village, the matter still pends at the appeal court in suit No. CA/B/609/2015,” the petition said.
Speaking before palace chiefs, Uwagboe, noted that traditionally, the Ohen Okun of Ughoton, was the only recognised priest within the Ekenwan axis.
“This is the reason why Afona deceitfully corrupted Obateru to Obagbeni to get Oba Ewuare’s II approval to be installed as Ohen, a position that has never existed.
“Your Royal Majesty, Afona and his cohorts at several occasions have attacked members of Obateru with armed thugs to cause fear and overrun the leadership of Obateru for his selfish and pecuniary gains to further advance his haulage and land grabbing businesses.
“Afona and his sibling, Osazee, have boasted several times that they will use their connections to some influential individuals within the palace to achieve their desire after their failed attempt to arrest elders of Obateru Village with operatives from Police’s Zone 5.”
The people have, therefore, appealed to his majesty to suspend the planned installation, investigate the alleged devious actions of Otasowie and his cohorts and to call them to order in the interest of justice.
Chief Uyi Okungbowa, a palace chiefs, who received the protesters, assured them that the palace would properly investigate their complaints.