Controversy continues to trail the appointment of Prince Tsola Emiko as the Olu of Warri-designate following the demise of the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Ikenwoli.
This time, it’s almost a contest between the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Amaju Pinnick, and Chief Ayiri Emami, the Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom.
Prince Emiko’s announcement as the Olu of Warri-designate was made by the Iyatsere of the Warri Kingdom and acting Chairman of Olu’s Advisory Council, Chief Johnson Atserunleghe, at a traditional ceremony in Ode Itsekiri, the homestead of the Itsekiri.
It was, however, immediately opposed by the Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom, Chief Emami, who contended that there had been a breach of law.
Ikenwoli was the 20th Olu and Emiko is expected to be the 21st monarch of the kingdom.
Emiko, who will remain Olu-designate until all necessary processes are completed, including the burial rite of the late monarch, will be formally crowned as the Olu of Warri at a later date.
Mr Pinnick, who recently won election as a member of the FIFA Council, the highest decision-making body of world football now seems to have spread his tentacles into the tradition and politics of the Warri kingdom.
“The coming of Prince Emiko will redefine a lot of things in Iwere (Warri) land, that I know because there are a lot of things that are not right that a lot of people are not happy about,” Pinnick told ARISE News on Tuesday.
“I know his heart, his (Emami) heart is as clear as crystal, but he is not going to mount, but even if he does (mount an opposition), he knows it is sacrilegious and he’s not going to win that battle because 98.9% of the entire Itsekere nation wants Prince Emiko who was trained from birth to be a king.
“Unfortunately, Ikenwoli, an amazing king, it’s unfortunate he passed. But we are talking about destiny and destiny has behoved on Prince Tsola Emiko to mount that saddle of responsibility which perhaps was erroneously denied him five years ago.”
But Chief Emami, the Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom told ARISE News in a phone-in conversation that the reported emergence of Emiko was illegal, null and void.
While calling for calm among Itsekiri sons and daughters as well as concerned Nigerians, Emami insisted that Ikenwoli had not yet joined his ancestors and, therefore, a successor to the throne could not be announced.
He stated that the responsibility for such announcement rested squarely on his shoulders as the Ologbotsere of Warri, warning that the revered stool of Itsekiri Kingdom was not up for sale to the highest bidder.
Emami claimed that only two out of the seven Itsekiri traditional kingmakers were present at the ceremony held at Ode-Itsekiri, the ancestral home of the Itsekiri people in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.
The Ologbotsere also argued that the edict outlining the process and procedure for making public the demise of an Itsekiri monarch, vis-â-vis the selection of an Om’oba or Olu-designate is duly gazetted.
He said: “I don’t support illegality. You don’t buy Itsekiri custom and tradition; the throne comes to you. I’m not part of what is going on; it’s an illegality and that is why I was not there.
“The Olu has not joined his ancestors. As far as I am concerned, whatever was done at Ode-Itsekiri was a kangaroo in search of power.
“The person that has the right to pronounce the transition of the Olu of Warri, whenever that happens, is the Ologbotsere, which I am till this moment by the grace of God.
“Out of seven, it was only two kingmakers that were there at Ode-Itsekiri. I am urging Itsekiri, and indeed all Nigerians, to remain calm. Itsekiri will announce their king when the time comes.
“I will be making my decision in the coming days Emami as the Ologbotsere of Warri will never support illegality in any form,” he said.
By Abel Ejikeme