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Cult Killings: Benin Palace Disagrees with Governor Obaseki over Govt’s Prohibition of Activities of Traditional Youth Leaders - TELL Magazine

Cult Killings: Benin Palace Disagrees with Governor Obaseki over Govt’s Prohibition of Activities of Traditional Youth Leaders

Benin Traditional Council
Benin Traditional Council

Again, another crisis is brewing between Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, and the Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare 11 over the government’s outlaw of the activities of Okaigheles (traditional youth leaders) in the seven local government areas making up Edo South senatorial district of Edo State.

But reacting on Friday to the government’s pronouncement, the Palace of the Oba of Benin countered the governor, contending that the Okaighele’s cannot be banned because they represent a segment of the age-long Benin traditional administrative structure.

Osaro Idah, the Obazelu of Benin, and a chieftain of the ruling party in the state, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, made this clarification while addressing the affected Okaigheles who protested to the palace for its intervention.

A statement on Friday signed by Osaigbovo Iguobaro, the chief press secretary to the Benin monarch, Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare 11, said Idah assured them that the Palace would dialogue with the government over the contentious issue, and charged the Okaigheles to maintain peace and order in their domains.

Chief Idah, who was joined by Chiefs Oghafua Oyeoba, the Oyeoba of Benin and Uyi Okungbowa, the Ogua of Benin, said the Palace would not shield any individual caught in nefarious activities.

According to him, “Okaighele is not a new thing in Benin. It didn’t start in this century. As you have age grades, and senior sons, so we have them. When Odionwere (village head) is appointed by the Oba, Okaighele assist the Odionwere in the daily administration of the domain on daily basis. It is not something that can be banned by fiat because Okaighele belongs to the Benin ancestors. We shall inform the appropriate authorities about your concerns.

“You have not been banned. But, the Palace will not support any form of violence of attack on anyone or group of persons in communities. If anyone is caught, the Palace will support the government to prosecute such person(s)”.

Earlier, spokesperson of the aggrieved youths and Odionweres, (village heads) Rowland Ogbomo, expressed surprise at the governor’s pronouncement, noting like Idah, that the Okaighele is a creation of the Palace and asked for the Oba’s urgent intervention.

Ogbomo, who explained that Okaigheles were responsible for the maintenance of law and order in line with Benin native laws and customs, stated that “We are here in respect of the recent ban on Okaigheles by the Governor, and we are appealing to our royal father to intervene and rescue us. We are not cultists”.

Announcing the ban, Governor Obaseki had told journalists: “We have just finished the Security Council Meeting where we reviewed the security situation in Edo State since January 2024 with particular emphasis on the security activities in Edo in May 2024.

“From the security management report, which was considered in our security meeting, we still have a nagging issue in Edo State which is cultism. The incidence of cultism is very high.

“The Council today, amongst its decisions, has decided to go full blast against cultists and cultism in the State. We have now passed an anti-cultism law in Edo State, and that law will be implemented to its fullest.

On his part, the state Commissioner of Police, Funsho Adegboye, welcome the ban on the activities of the Okaigheles, stating that “we have been having problems with them as you can’t even separate them from cultism, and the Council has agreed that they are banned. Anybody arrested will be prosecuted diligently”.

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