By Francis Ogbuagu, Benin City
Chief Okoro Idusere, a member of Benin traditional council of chiefs responsible for administration of justice in the palace (Ibiwe Society) had been disgraced for allegedly impersonating an Enogie, a powerful traditional position reserved only for persons from royal families. He was also accused of selling community land and conniving with some persons to denigrate the palace and the Benin kingdom through the social media.
Orient Weekend gathered that the embattled chief, who had been parading himself as Enogie was recently apprehended, dragged to the Benin palace, stripped to the pants and made to swear a traditional oath never to engage in such sacrilegious acts again.
An Enogie not only holds the community land in trust for the Oba of Benin, but also adjudicates and settles matters in the given community using the royal insignia. According to Benin tradition, whatever pronouncement an Enogie makes is seen as one coming from the Oba of Benin.
It was gathered that Chief Idusere, armed with special corral beads, specifically made for Enogies with other royal insignia, had been operating as an Enogie, allegedly selling community lands, settling matters as well as using royal insignia in his official vehicle.
A source, who witnessed the dramatic incident, told Orient Weekend that when Mr. Idusere was caught, brought to the palace and questioned by the secretary to the Benin traditional council, Mr. Frank Irabor, he admitted his crime.
“He was asked whether he knew the consequences of parading himself as an Enogie, which he responded to in the affirmative. As a member of the Ibiwe Society, he may not claim ignorance of the consequences of his actions. Besides, ignorance is never an excuse before the law”, the source said.
A video clip of the moments the apprehended chief admitted his crime and pledged never to parade himself as an Enogie has been trending on the social media.
Reacting to the incident, a Benin traditional affairs analyst, who gave his name as Mr. Osagie, said the treatment meted out to the chief would serve as eye-opener to others, who may wish to indulge in such act. According to him, the man ought to be prosecuted according to Nigerian law.
“The man knew the consequences of his actions, being a chief himself. Aside the fact that the Nigerian law prohibits impersonation, the Benin kingdom does not handle such a thing with levity as it amounts to insubordination and rebellion against the Oba of Benin.
He went further, “The Benin kingdom is dynamic; one that has resisted infiltration by Western cultures and has lasted more than 800 years. The Oba is the father of all. He is both the administrative and spiritual head in Benin kingdom. The Oba appoints the Enogies. So, for a man to get up and declare himself an Enogie amounts to insubordination and rebellion against the Oba, and the Benin kingdom does not handle it with levity.”
Another resident, 65-year-old Pa Johnson Okunbor, further disclosed that such action had serious consequences if he is found guilty.
“The man in question is a member of the Ibiwe Society (chiefs that administer justice in the palace) and should know the consequences of his action. The Oba is all and all in Benin kingdom and without his assent, nobody can claim to be an Enogie. Such claims mean rebellion and cannot be accommodated.”
Another traditional chief, who spoke to our reporter under anonymity, because he was not authorised to speak on the subject, explained the rationale behind the stripping of the chief. “The first trial was to make him swear to the juju, which he did and by the virtue of the society he belongs, he is likely going to be prosecuted and, if found guilty, will face the music,” he revealed.
By Francis Ogbuagu, Benin City