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Reps to Wade Into Alleged Planned Balkanisation of Benin Kingdom

The House of Representatives has resolved to intervene in the alleged plans by the Edo State Government to divide the ancient Benin Kingdom into seven smaller kingdoms.

The House resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to interact with the state government and the Benin Traditional Council on the matter to forestall any crisis.

The resolution was a sequel to a motion of urgent public importance moved by Billy Osawaru (PDP, Edo) and three others on Tuesday during plenary.

Moving the motion on behalf of the others, Mr Osawaru stated that the ancient kingdom has an established origin that recognises the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, as the defacto ruler.

He stated that the dominion of the monarch extends to the entire seven local government areas in Edo South Senatorial District.

They are Oredo, Egor, Ikpoba-Okha, Uhunmwonde, Orhionmwon, Ovia South West and Ovia LGAs.

The lawmaker said the Oba of Benin (with the support of Chiefs appointed by him) exercises his customary dominionship over the Benin Kingdom through the Benin Traditional Council, as the only competent traditional authority in Edo South Senatorial District.

Mr Osawaru said the state government is planning to split the kingdom and create a parallel traditional council to rival the existing one headed by Oba Ewuare II.

The lawmaker informed the House that “without any cause, the Government of Edo State has announced its intention to institute a “new regime” by creating new traditional councils in the said seven local government areas of Edo South Senatorial District, with chiefs appointed by the Oba constituted into these separate proposed traditional councils.”

He warned that the plan by the state government could lead to unrest in the state because it “amounts to constituting parallel customary authorities to compete with the Oba of Benin in dominionship over the Benin Kingdom, thereby balkanizing the age-long Kingdom.”

Mr Osawaru argued further that the federal government must wade into the issue to prevent unrest, adding that “federal government is the ultimate authority in maintenance of law and order across.”

Speaker Abbas Tajudeen put the motion to vote without debate and it was adopted unanimously.

The House mandated the yet-to-be-constituted ad hoc committee to interact with the National Security Adviser (NSA), Nuhu Ribadu, the Nigeria Police Force and all other federal government security forces in Edo State to sensitise them on the need to avert any violent breakdown of law and order in Edo South and other parts of the state.

Gov Obaseki, Oba clash

In August, the Edo State Executive Council announced the implementation of the Traditional Rulers and Chiefs Law, 1979 (as amended).

The law allows the traditional rulers in the 18 local government areas of the state to receive monthly allowances to administer their domains.

The announcement was made by the Secretary to the Edo State Government, Osarodion Ogie, who stated that the State Executive Council approved that “there would be a traditional council in each local government area across the state’s 18 local councils.”

It was interpreted by many in the state as a deliberate move by the government to weaken the domain of the Oba by creating other traditional institutions within Edo South.

The monarch had in April said he would resist any move to create the councils.

“We won’t tolerate it. We are sure that the government of the day will not tolerate it. We cannot create something that will bring us down. Enogie is not a political appointment. It is a cultural assignment,” he said.

Despite the warning by the monarch, the government proceeded with the plan.

Some have said the move by the government is not unconnected with the ongoing tussle over the returned artefacts.

The Benin monarch and the governor of the state, Godwin Obaseki, had a protracted disagreement over the ownership of the looted artefacts being returned by European countries.

The governments of Germany and the UK have expressed readiness to return some of the artefacts to the country.

Mr Obaseki, an indigene of Benin, had announced that a “transformational museum is to be built in Benin City, to house the artefacts upon their return, as part of a new cultural district in the city”.

But the Oba said, “the artefacts should be returned to the original owner,” insisting that no third party should negotiate or receive the materials on behalf of the Benin kingdom.

It is not clear how the National Assembly intends to wade into the crisis, considering that the affairs of the traditional rulers in Edo State are subject to the Traditional Rulers and Chiefs Law, 1979 which makes it a state matter.

Source : Premium Times