Like his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole who deposed the Onojie of Uromi in the twilight of his administration in 2016, Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki has in a similar fashion dethroned Benjamin Ikani, the Oliola of Uzanu clan of South East Uneme. The deposed traditional ruler is the clan head of the home town of the minister of state for budget and economic planning, Clem Agba, with whom Obaseki had been having a running battle, a spinoff of the feud between the governor and his predecessor, Oshiomhole over issues surrounding the controversial ₦30 billion storm water drainage project.
Recall that Obaseki had in May 2018, reinstated the deposed Onojie of Uromi, Anselm Aidonoje. The Onojie was first suspended October 26, 2016 for allegedly assaulting one of his subjects, Betty Okoebor during the September 28 governorship election, and for travelling without permission as well as disregard for constituted authority by refusing to reply a query issued to him. The Ojuromi was deposed by Oshiomhole November 9, 2016, three days to the expiration of his tenure, pursuant to Section 28 (i&ii) of the Traditional Rulers and Chiefs Law, 1979.
There was however no record of the Obaseki administration querying or suspending the Oliola of Uzanu Clan before his dethronement and dissolution of the clan. Watchers of unfolding events believe government’s action was politically motivated. Obaseki and Agba are in-laws, with the minister married to the governor’s younger sister.
The government, in a three-paragraph special announcement titled “Governor Obaseki Dissolves Uzanu Clan, Dethrones Clan Head” signed by secretary to the state government, Osarodion Ogie, predicated its decision on “the incessant and flagrant disregard to peace agreement and government’s directive to maintain peace in Uzanu community and its environs by the Oliola”.
According to the terse statement, “Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki has approved the revocation of the clan of South East Uneme in Etsako locan Government Area.
“Edo State Government has also withdrawn the appointment of HRH, Benjamin Ikani, as the Oliola of Uzanu Clan of South East Uneme with immediate effect”.
Giving an insight into issues surrounding government’s action, media aide to the deputy governor, Benjamin Atu, explained that his principal, Philip Shaibu, had earlier threatened that the government would be forced to issue an arrest warrant on Agba over his role in fanning the embers of war within communities in the state.
This, he said, was at an enlarged meeting between warring communities “where the Uzanu leadership displayed outright disdain to abide by government’s position on the communal dispute threatening to cause unrest in the state, forcing government to come out with a lasting solution on the issue”.
Atu said trouble started early this year when Igiode community accused Agba, who is from Uzanu clan, of removing government beacon demarcation, and trespassed deep into Igiode land, positing that “the action of Clem Agba was predicated to undermine government’s earlier white paper issued two years ago on the adjustment and demarcation of the boundaries which once restored peace and normalcy”.
He said “With the dissolution of Uzanu Clan, the Uzanu village has been returned under the leadership of HRH George Egabor, the Okumagbe of Uwanno Kingdom as the office of Oliola no more exists”.
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