The Coalition of Benin Socio- Cultural Organizations have identified the alleged failure of governor Godwin Obaseki to possess returned Benin artefacts as the philosophy behind the his attack on His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin and pollute the traditional institution.
This followed Edo State Executive Council (SEC) resolution, dated August 11, 2023, ordered the creation of Traditional Councils across the 18 Local Government Areas of the State to coexist with the Benin Traditional Council, BTC and approved payment of allowances to traditional rulers in the State.
The Edo State government’s circular to implement 1979 Local government Administration Edit (Laws), signed by the Secretary to the State government, Mr Osarodion Ogie, after the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Notice No. 25 in the official Gazette No. 57, Volume 110 at pages A245-247, dated March 23, 2023, vested the ownership, custody and maintenance of all repatriated Benin artefacts.
Briefing journalists on the developments, the Coordinator of the group, Mr Osazee Amas-Edobor, described the Government determination to implement 1979 Local government Administration Laws, as a canon-fodder to reduce the influence of the Oba, having ostensibly conceded to the selfish request of rebellious Benin Dukes, seeking to divide Benin Kingdom.
Amas-Edobor called on Governor Obaseki to stop riding roughshod on sacred grounds, describing the Government perfidious moves as sacrilegious and inconceivable assault on the Benin ethnic race.
The Coordinator, recalled that “There can never be multiple monarchs in Benin Kingdom”, after the Government withdrew criminal charges against one of his protégé, Osemwegie Arisco who installed himself as the imperial Majesty of Utantan (long road) in Benin Kingdom, amid profusion of rebukes.
He also alleged that “It’s on record that the Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, tried so hard to take possession of the few repatriated looted Benin artefacts by the criminally minded British invaders and their cohorts in 1897 without considering the interest of the revered Oba of Benin throne and his forebears who are the authentic owner of the artefacts until the federal government of Nigeria issued a gazette, which vested ownership, custody and maintenance of all returned Benin artefacts in the Oba of Benin”.
Coordinator-General of the Civil Advocacy Group, who was joined by other concerned Edo citizens at home and diaspora, appealed to Benin Dukes (Enigie) not to fall cheap to Mr Obaseki’s antics in order not to destroy their good legacies and all that they have laboured for over the years”.
According to him, “It’s very audible to the deaf and visible to the blind that the proposed monthly allocation by the the Edo State Governor, Mr Obaseki under the guise of implementing the 1979 Local Government law, is a calculated attempt to lure and have our revered loyal Benin Dukes (Enigie) to himself for political benefits”, without recourse to ancient heritage of Edo people.