Chiefs and members of the royal family in Benin have lashed out at the Edo State Government for purported plans to acquire lands in Ogbe-Ezoti and other parts of Benin.

Speaking in a press conference held in Benin City, the Iyase (Prime Minister) of Benin kingdom, Chief Sam Igbe, touched on the importance of Ogbe-Ezoti to Benin ancestry. He also drew attention to the grounds owned by the Oba of Benin, while echoing the warnings of the Chiefs and Oba himself.

‘We wish to draw the attention of the Edo State Government to the significant role of Ogbe-Ezoti in Benin Kingdom.

‘The Ogbe-Ezoti, which was named after Oba Ezoti, is the portion of the Oba of Benin Palace that occupies the “Aro-Oto Shrine”. The traditional ground is mainly occupied by Palace functionaries who from time immemorial perform sacred traditional rites within the domain on behalf of the Palace of the Oba of Benin. It is forbidden in Benin Kingdom for corpse to be interred within the length and breadth of Ogbe.

‘The Ogbe-Ezoti Traditional Ground is one of the sacred traditional grounds in Benin Kingdom such as Usama Traditional Ground in Siluko Road, Ugo N’Erhie Traditional Ground in Upper Sakponba Road, Edaiken Traditional Ground in Uselu, among others”, he said.

Concerning the contracts awarded by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), the Iyase of Benin kingdom called on the management to consider youths in the community; appealing that employment opportunities be made available for host communities.

‘As a matter of fact, the indigenes of host communities are usually considered for such contracts in other states. We wish to inform the company that control of the youth is getting beyond our capacity, hence we appeal to management of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) to rescind the contract award with a view to considering the indigenes of host communities for the sake of peace and tranquility’.

Benin Chiefs and members of the royal family extended their support to protesting residents, who voiced their dismay on the state government’s plan to take ownership of the area. They also appealed that the decision be rescinded.

Few days ago, one Pa Moses Obasuyi, an 87-year-old indigene, led people of Ezoti-Ogbe on a protest against the attempted sale of their traditional grounds by Mr Godwin Obaseki, the Edo State governor.

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