Edo Govt Threatens To Sue Traditional Ruler

Rich-Arisco Osemwengie during his coronation
Rich-Arisco Osemwengie during his coronation

By Jefferson Ibiwale, Benin  

The governor of Edo state, Adams Oshiomhole, has warned the newly installed Ogiamen of Benin Kingdom, Rich-Arisco Osemwengie, to stop parading himself as a traditional ruler or face criminal prosecution.

Osemwengie, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Edo State, was recently installed to fill the vacancy left by the disappearance of the erstwhile chief, Ogiamen Osarobo, whose family members say left his palace since 1998 and has not returned or been seen since then.

“We need to put our house in order. The Ogiamen we suddenly disappeared and we cannot trace him. If we do not put our house in order, who will renegotiate Ekiokpagha treaty?” spokesperson for the family, Monday Wehere, said, adding that the decision to appoint Osemwengie was borne out of the fact that Osarabo had no heir, as he could not bear a child before his mysterious disappearance.

“The whole of us have resolved that Osarobo cannot rule us again. He just disappeared. He has Master Degree in History. He left 1998. He has no child as at the time he left.”

However, in a swift reaction, the state government has failed to recognize the new chief and has vowed to take legal action should he continue to assume the role of Ogiamen.

“Government will invoke the relevant sections of the Traditional Rulers and Chieftaincy Law, 1979, which prohibit any person or group to proclaim self as a Chief or Traditional Ruler, a breach of which is a criminal offence,” the government said in a statement issued by the Secretary to the State Government, Julius Ihonvbere.

The statement also condemned the seeming disrespect shown by the popular Ogiamen family towards the Oba of Benin, who is the paramount ruler of the entire Benin Kingdom, and said it would not hesitate to sanction anyone found to disrespect the Oba or disturb the peace of other persons.



    “Government condemns in strong terms, the disrespect the Ogiamien family has shown to HRM Omo N’ Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba of Benin.

    “Government will take steps to prevent any act which is capable to cause a breach of the peace,” the statement added.

    The Ogiamen family is very famous in Benin Kingdom, more so that the Ogiamen Palace was reportedly the only building standing, following the British invasion in 1897, which resulted in Benin being burnt down.

    However, the installation of an Ogiamen is seen by the Benin Palace as tantamount to running a parallel monarchy, something which has caused tension in the Kingdom.


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