The people of Warri Kingdom in Delta State can now heave a sigh of relief as indications emerged last Friday that the missing crown and other traditional paraphernalia of the stool of the Olu of Warri would soon be recovered as the keys to where the missing items were kept are now in the possession of the police in the Zone 5 Benin headquarters of the Force, which had been investigating the disappearance of the symbol of authority of the Warri throne.
Recall that the disappearance of the over 400-year-old crown and other important traditional items was a fall-out of the kingship tussle in the kingdom following the death last December of the former royal father, Ogiame Ikenwoli. The ugly scenario led to the suspension of the Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom, Ayiri Emami, by the Iyatsere, Johnson Atserunleghe. Emami was suspected of complicity in the theft of the crown because of his opposition to the process, which produced a successor to the throne, Prince Tsola Emiko. Ayiri had on April 24, 2021, been grilled for several hours by the police in the course of which he denied being privy to the invasion of the palace during which the crown and other missing items were allegedly carted away. He however admitted being opposed to the procedure adopted in picking Omoba Emiko as the Olu-elect. Emami’s denial was said to have prompted another meeting last Wednesday where the parties committed themselves to peace in the kingdom so that a new king could be installed.
But determined to get to the root of the matter, the police, represented by the Officer in Charge of Anti-Vice in the Zone, David Okoro, Superintendent of Police, SP, met on Friday with the Iyatsere and the embattled Ologbotsere in company with other palace chiefs.
An insider source at the meeting, hinted that the Police had retrieved the keys of the palace room where the crown was kept, from one of the chiefs. The source who did not want to be identified, said, “Last Friday we were at AIG Zone 5 and we met the Officer in Charge of Anti-Vice, David Okoro, and during the investigation, we were made to understand that the keys leading to the room where the crown and other royal monuments were kept was with one of the chiefs.
“The embattled prominent chief admitted that the keys were with him. I told the police that when our king passed on, the keys were with the Uwangue of Warri Kingdom, the number three Chief who is Gabriel Awala. By his title, he is in charge of the king’s wardrobe. Ordinarily, Awala should be with the keys”.
Speaking further, he said “The chief who had the keys was not around when Baba passed on. After three days when he returned, he took the keys from Awala without the consent of the king makers. He had been with the keys until it was recovered last Friday. “He told the police that he didn’t give the keys to anybody and the doors leading to the rooms were not broken. And after collecting what they wanted, he made small damage to the door to pervert justice”.
The unimpeachable palace source said following the confession by the high ranking chief, “He was asked to make an additional statement and the police told him he is the prime suspect, and they asked him to make sure that all the items that were removed were returned.” Upbeat about the new development, the chief was enthusiastic that very soon, the coronation activities for the new king would commence.
When contacted, the Zone 5 Police Public Relations Officer, Tijani Momoh, said, “I was not part of the investigative team and cannot confirm if any key was retrieved from one of the chiefs or not”.