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Ban of Okaigheles: Oba of Benin disagrees with Edo Govt

Ban of Okaigheles: Oba of Benin disagrees with Edo Govt

Barely four days after the Edo State Government announced the banning of activities of Okaigheles (youth leaders) in the Edo South senatorial district of the state, the palace of the Oba of Benin has disagreed with the state government.

DAILY POST reports that the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, announced on June 3, 2024, after a closed-door meeting with security chiefs in Edo State at the Government House in Benin City, the ban of youth leaders in the senatorial district as part of a renewed effort to tackle cultism in the state.

Obaseki also stated that no fewer than 150 persons have been lost to cult-related activities and homicide between January and May 2024.

Speaking on the ban of the youth leader in the seven local government areas that make up Edo South senatorial district, the Oba of Benin Palace said Okaigheles have not been banned in Benin Kingdom.

Chief Osaro Idah, the Obazelu of Benin, who spoke for the palace while addressing protesting Okaigheles who sought the palace’s intervention, noted that they (the Okaigheles) represent a segment of the age-long Benin traditional administrative structure.

A statement by Osaigbovo Iguobaro, the Chief Press Secretary to the Oba of Benin, made available to newsmen in Benin City, said Idah, who was joined by Chief Oghafua Oyeoba, the Oyeoba of Benin and Chief Uyi Okungbowa, the Ogua of Benin, said the Palace would not shield any individual caught in nefarious activities.

He assured that the palace would dialogue with the government over the contentious issue, and charged the Okaigheles to maintain peace and order in their domains.

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 do we have them. When Odionwere (village head) is appointed by the Oba, Okaighele assists Odionwere in the daily administration of the domain.

“It is not something that can be banned by fiat because Okaighele belongs to the Benin ancestors. We will inform the appropriate authorities about your concerns. You have not been banned. But, the Palace will not support any form of violence or attack on anyone or group of persons in communities,” he said.

He warned that if any Okaighele is caught for wrongdoing, the palace will support the government in prosecuting such person(s).

Earlier, Rowland Ogbomo, who spoke on behalf of the aggrieved youths and Odionweres (village heads), stated that Okaighele is a creation of the palace.

Ogbomo said they were surprised by the state governor’s announcement and appealed to the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, to urgently intervene.

He explained that Okaigheles are responsible for the maintenance of law and order in line with Benin native laws and customs.

“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,” he stated.

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