The Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, has approved the suspension of the Chief Priest of the kingdom, Nosakhare Isekhure, from all the duties of the title.
This was contained in a statement released at a press briefing at the palace on Tuesday, jointly signed by the nine highest-ranked chiefs in the palace and the Secretary of the Benin Traditional Council, Frank Irabor.
It said Mr. Isekhure had been suspended indefinitely.
The chief priest is known as the Isekhurhe of Benin Kingdom.
The statement accused Mr. Isekhure of desecrating his office. It said the Council had reverted to the system of the past in which the Ihama of Benin Kingdom was performing the duties of the Isekhurhe.
In a long list of Mr. Isekhure’s infractions, the Council stated: “He designated his house as a palace where he held court in which he sometimes reviewed cases already dealt with in the Oba’s palace. Of course, gratifications were there offered or forced and collected.
“He used his position to influence new chiefs celebrating their investiture to perform certain rites in his residence, during which monies, kolanuts and drinks were collected.
“Senior chief were at times openly bad-mouthed and vilified by him and during those times, he declared that the chiefs were not senior to him and that he would not pay respect to them again as palace cultures demand.”
“He turned himself into a be all and end all, and a seeming authority in Benin culture and tradition, especially palace procedures. He even pronounced himself the Head of the Royal family.
“The profanities and denigrations that issued from him and his followers during our mourning period are better forgotten. During this period, he told all those who cared to listen to him that neither the Emwinekhua nor the consequent coronation could hold without him.
“The Iyase (Prime Minister of Benin Kingdom) sent for him to enable these matters to be discussed with him. He demurred. The council of chiefs also sent for him, yet, he refused to answer them.
“During Emwinekhua, he neglected and deliberately refused to perform his traditional duties before, during and after the event, and has since remained infinitely unrepentant.
“We cannot believe that anyone, any Benin individual who knows what the motivating Benin cultures and tradition are, and has worn the toga of a Benin Chief could do what Isekhurhe did these past two years. We find it difficult to accept even the idea that he is a chief. The disconnect has become actual and natural.
“We recommend in the circumstances therefore, that he be suspended; and with the authority of Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, Oba of Benin, he is with effect from today, 17th of January, 2017 suspended indefinitely from performing the duties of the Isekhurhe title which he now bears.”
When contacted on the development, Mr. Isekhurhe said he could not say anything yet, because he was yet to get official information on his suspension.