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Benin palace chief wants 1897 judgment on Oba Ovonranmwen quashed

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By Alemma Aliu

BENIN—THE Esogban of Benin Kingdom, Chief David Edebiri, yesterday, said there was a need for a legal action against the British government to set aside the 1897 judgment against Oba Ovoranmwen after the invasion of Bénin Kingdom.

Oba Ovoranmwen, who was deposed was banished to Calabar, while some chiefs were sentenced to death.

Speaking with some micro-finance experts from seven African countries who visited him to learn more about Benin Kingdom, Edebiri said the trial of Oba Ovonranmwen was biased, saying there was no record of an interpreter to explain to the Oba what his prosecutors were saying  during the trial.

He told his visitors that the transformation of Benin Kingdom happened in 1897 when the British invaded the kingdom and deported Oba Ovonranmwen.

He, however, said despite the calamities that befell the kingdom, the people didn’t allow the British to subdue their culture.

He said: “The trial of Oba Ovonranmwen cannot be said to be free and fair. The man who tried him could not speak Edo, Oba Ovonranmwen did not speak English and there was no record of an interpreter.

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“Lagos, as it is today, was founded by Oba Orogbua. After he led a conquest to Dahomey, he set up a camp and called it ‘Eko’ which means camp in Bénin. The place started to function as an extension of Bénin empire.

“It was the British that renamed the place Lagos because of the Lagoon. The royal family of Lagos understands this history and it is not in dispute.”

One of the visitors from Kenya, Mrs. Cecelia Thuiya, described the visit as an eye opener.

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