The controversy surrounding the suspension of Ologbotsere of Warri title has assumed a fresh twist as members of the family alleged pressure on the 100-year-old Olori-Ebi (family head), Pa Jofotan Higson Oporokun to sign a controversial letter.
Furthermore, it was reports that the Palace of The Olu of Warri, Agiame Atuwatse III recently announced the proscription of the family title in the climax of a face-off with holder, Chief Ayiri Emami, who waved it off as “of no effect”.
Olu Of Warri, Ologbotsere Family At ‘Conflict’ Over Title Ban
However, the family spokesperson, Mr Alex Eyengho, in a petition to the Inspector General of Police, claimed that the pressure on Pa Oporokun is capable of causing a breach of peace in the areas, particularly as it involved upturning age-long order of affairs in the family.
He said: “The Ologbotsere Eyinmisan Descendants of Warri Kingdom are constrained to urgently draw your attention to a verifiable case of intimidation and harassment on the Olori-Ebi of the Ologbotsere Family, Pa. Jofotan Higson Oporokun.”
Reacting to the petition, Warri Palace chief and lawyer, Robinson Ariyo, said the disrobed Ologbotsere, Ayirimi Emami and a faction of the Ologbotsere family have been the ones fomenting trouble from the onset of the succession crisis.
Describing them as the “aggressors”, he reemphasised the power of the king to bestow and withdraw chieftaincy titles.
He said Pa Oporokun has a voice and should be allowed to speak for himself.
Eyengho said the aged family head is under pressure from the palace to give credence to ‘illegality’, stressing: “The pressure is to compel him to single-handedly sign a letter scripted from the Palace of the Olu of Warri, to make it seem as emanating from the Ologbotsere Eyinmisan Descendants.
“This development does not just have the lace of impersonation, but it smacks of desperation by an illegitimate authority, to rewrite an obnoxious pronouncement likened to a policy summersault.”
The petition, a copy of which was obtained by The Nation, stated that palace is trying to coerce the centenarian to sign a statement purportedly supporting the action of the palace, contrary to the family’s position.
It maintained that correspondents from the Ologbotsere descendants usually has the imprimatur of approval from at least 10 of 12 stocks of the family, in order for it to be a family document, maintaining that pressuring the Olori-ebi to single-handedly sign was out of order.
It also disagreed with the position conveyed in the ‘stage-managed’ letter to the effect that the Ologbotsere title was a prerogative of the Olu of Warri, stressing that nothing could be farther from the truth.
“Whilst we acknowledge that it is the Olu of Warri that confers Chieftaincy titles to deserving Itsekiri indigenes, and occasionally non-Itsekiris, it is laughable that the content of the letter which a particular Chief and other elements from the Palace, are intimidating Pa. Jofotan Higson Oporokun to sign (through phone calls pressures) that “All titles belong to the Olu of Warri.
“It must be stated, clearly once more, that the Ologbotsere title belongs to the Ologbotsere Eyinmisan Descendants, and not the Olu of Warri. The Warri Monarch has the prerogative to install an Ologbotsere, based on the recommendation of the Ologbotsere Eyinmisan Descendants.
“Never in the history of Warri Kingdom has an Ologbotsere been disrobed, the holder of such title lives with it for a lifetime and there is nothing like former Ologbotsere. Telling the world in the presence of the media that Ologbotsere title has been abolished and the name is now merely a nickname, only to backtrack and say that the pronouncement, which was widely reported in the media, was a misrepresentation, is the height of opaque leadership, devoid of proper understanding of Itsekiri heritage.”
Ariyo, however disproved this saying, “The king, His Majesty has been crowned in a globally acknowledged ceremony, so why would he want to foment trouble? The Ologbotsere and its factional leader, one Alex Eyengho are persons who wanted by all means to stop the crowning of the king.
“As a matter of fact, they tried all legal avenues to ensure that the king was not crowned. The king has been crowned. Beyond that, they also did some criminal acts of breaking into the palace and going away with certain artifacts with which the crowning process is done.
“As I speak, Chief Ayirimi and his cohorts are answering a case of breaking and entry because they did it in the night. It is a serious criminal offense. In fact, one of them went to court and asked the court to restrain the police from charging the matter to court.
“They have also gotten their men, boys, and supporters to throw all sort of insults, through the social media, against the king. Some of these people don’t know that the use of social media is governed by certain laws that criminalized what they are doing.”