Chief Nosa Isekhure, the isekhure of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria 1994 © Phyllis Galembo. Courtesy Phyllis Galembo and Steven Kasher Gallery Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures” remains through Jan. 29 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Original Filename: Galembo 2 .jpg

Tension as Oba of Benin attempts to possess shrines from suspended Isekhure

By Tony Ehighiale, Benin City

There was a mild drama as some chiefs on Wednesday stormed the residence of the suspended Isekhure of Benin Kingdom, Chief Nosakhare Isekhure as Oba Ewuare II has taken possession of the shrines (Ukhure) at his residence.

Iseukhure of Benin is the custodian of the ancestral spirit staff of the royal family of Benin as he is the priest responsible only for Erinmwin-Idu, which is the family household deity of the royal family.

Tension began when the household of Chief Isekhure were thrown into confusion as top palace chiefs led by Chief Eduwu Ekhator, the Obasogie of Benin Kingdom accompanied by a combined team of policemen stormed the residence along Sakponba road in Benin City to retrieve the shrines from the embattled chief.

There was a minor drama as Chief Isekhure came out of his residence after about two hours but refused them access to the shrines.

Confused by the turn of events, he was said to have queried the chiefs on why they stormed his residence with policemen in a traditional matter but after an argument, he went back into his residence and locked himself in.

Angered by this, they invading party pulled down the statue of Chief Isekhure holding the Ukhure in front of his residence as well as all the beautification including bronze artworks were destroyed.

His children and relations were seen cursing and lamenting the action being carried out.

They said a bulldozer should been used to pull down the entire building since the services of Chief Isekhure were no longer needed.

One of the Palace Chiefs who spoke on condition of anonymity said the Oba owns the place and only want to take possession of his property.

He said there were reports of plans by Chief Isekhure to tamper with the shrines which prompted the Oba to take what he termed necessary steps.

According to him, “For now he (Chief Isekhure) is completely ostracised. What you can see is part of the process of ostracising him. The real powerhouse, items that belong to the Oba, is here. Information reaching us is some of those things were being tampered with.

“The Oba is the owner of that place. He magnanimously put him there to take custody of the place. He is like the sceptre bearer of the Oba. He (Oba) has asked us to secure the artefacts and possibly make the area formidable so that it cannot be broken.

“The Oba has already asked him to take possession of the extension he (Isekhurhe) built in there. But the original foundation of the palace guild should remain where it is; it is a monumental structure and we have to fortify it because of what it contains.

“I think processes required had been concluded. Nobody ever raises arm against the Oba, even when he (Isekhurhe) was going out of his own way and raising and instrument pursuing some of the chiefs?.
“He has locked the door saying we cannot go in. But we will get in there in a minute. That is the Oba’s property.”

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