Shaibu pledges loyalty to Benin monarch as Obaseki is entangled in controversial court case

  • Over 100 priests, palace chiefs storm court for Benin king

Former deputy governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu, has found himself in an unfolding controversy involving the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, as he paid a visit to the royal palace on Thursday.

In a post on his X account, Shaibu uploaded a photo of himself kneeling before the monarch with the traditional greeting caption, “Oba ghato Kpere Ise!!”

This is coming after the Oba was dragged to court on Thursday by two suspended Enigie (Dukes) of Evbuobanosa and Egbaen Siluko Dukedoms in Benin Kingdom, Prof Gregory Akenzua and Chief Edomwonyi Ogiegbaen challenging their suspension.

The pair, representing other suspended chiefs, contended that only the State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, had the authority to remove them from their positions, disputing the Oba’s decision to suspend them for alleged insubordination.

Social media reports suggested that the ongoing court case was initiated by the government against the traditional ruler, a situation the state government has described as the handiwork of enemies of the state

In an official statement, Crusoe Osagie, Special Adviser (Media Projects) to Governor Godwin Obaseki, called on residents and the public to disregard the reports.

“The State Government has no hand in the matter and is also being sued by the Enigie,” the statement read.

Shaibu, who had a strained relationship with his former principal due to his political aspirations, was perceived by Nigerians as capitalising on the situation.

Over 100 priests, palace chiefs storm court for Benin king

However, over 100 priests, priestesses and palace chiefs stormed the Edo State High Court on Thursday chanting curses against the enemies of the Oba at the resumed hearing of the case instituted by suspended Enigie (Duke) in Benin against Oba Ewuare II.

Two suspended Enigie (Dukes) of Evbuobanosa and Egbaen Siluko Dukedoms in Benin Kingdom, Prof Gregory Akenzua and Chief Edomwonyi Ogiegbaen had on behalf of some others, sued the monarch at Edo State High Court, challenging their suspension from offices.

Furthermore, the pair, speaking on behalf of others, asserted that their removal from their positions could only be done by the State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, and not by the monarch who had suspended them for rebelling against his authority.

The High Court admitted the Benin Traditional Council, as a party in a suit instituted by suspended (Enigie) Dukes in Benin, against the Oba.

Ruling on a motion on Thursday, Justice Peter Akhihiero granted the first defendant’s application to include the Benin Traditional Council as the third defendant in the suit marked, B/250os/2023, while Oba Ewuare II and Edo State Government, are the first and second defendants respectively.

The ruling was in response to an application filed by the second defendant’s lead counsel, Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George, SAN, Prof Edoba Omoregie and his team against the Claimants, Prof. Gregory Akenzua, and Edomwonyi Ogiegbaen who both took the Oba of Benin to court over their suspension as Dukes of Evbuobanosa and Egbaen Siluko Dukedoms in Edo South Senatorial District by Oba Ewuare II in 2023.

Justice Peter Akhihiero directed parties in the suit, Edo State Government represented by the State Attorney General and State Commissioner for Justice, Oluwole Iyamu, SAN, Oba Ewuare II, Prof. Gregory Akenzua and Edomwonyi Ogiegbaen, who were both represented by their counsels led by Dr. Osagie Obayuwana who had objected to the motion through the counsel of Oba Ewuare II, to amend their relevant documents in the case to reflect the decision.

While other parties in the suit aligned with the position of Oba Ewuare II’s counsel to join Benin Traditional Council, in the suit, the claimants, Prof. Gregory Akenzua and Edomwonyi Ogiegbaen through their counsel, Dr Obayuwana, prayed the court not to list the council as a party in the suit and urged the court to award cost against Oba of Benin in favour of the claimants.

But Justice Peter Akhihiero turned down the prayers and held that Obayuwana should not worry about the timing, insisting that, “The race is not for the swift, or the battle for the strong.

“If they are bringing in the Traditional Council as necessary, I don’t see this as a problem since you people have brought the Oba to court.

“I don’t think I can shut down any party. Let them come in and file their processes.”

Justice Akhihiero adjourned the hearing in the case till July 15, 2024, in the absence of any objection.

There was a heavy security presence at the premises of the State High Court Complex on Sapele Road in Benin City.

However, all those who came to the court in solidarity with the Oba were not allowed into the court due to their large numbers.

Groups and Edo sons and daughters, including members of the royal family and chiefs, displayed their affection and solidarity for the Oba.]