The family of Nosakhare Isekhure has given the Benin Traditional Council, BTC, a 14-day ultimatum to substantiate its allegations over which he was suspended as Chief Priest of Benin Kingdom.
The council had, among other allegations, accused Mr. Isekhure of collecting money from people to review their cases already decided at the palace of the Oba of Benin.
The family further challenged the council to name the persons involved in such alleged cases.
The Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, had last week approved the suspension of Mr. Isekhure over the allegations by the council.
For example, the BTC had alleged that Mr. Isekhure got new chiefs celebrating their investiture to perform certain rites in his residence, during which he collected money, kolanuts and drinks.
But the family, Ihogbe N’Ore, in a formal response on Monday signed by Osagbakhoe Ogbemudia and made available to journalists in Benin City, said if at the expiration of its 14-day deadline, no proof was produced, “We shall have no other option than to allow Chief Isekhure to take appropriate legal action to redeem his image that has been badly damaged by BTC publication.”
The statement asked, “How on earth will somebody, after getting judgment in the Palace where such a person did not pay a dime, would turn to Chief Isekhure for another round of justice, where such a person would be forced to pay gratification?”
“This is a case of giving bad name to a dog so that one can have reason to hang such dog. To this end, we demand to see and verify the people that Chief Isekhure demanded money from so that members of the public will be convinced,” the family stated.
On the allegation that new chiefs celebrated their investitures and performed certain rites in Mr. Isekhure’s with kolanuts, money and drink, the family said, “We of the Ihogbe N’Ore are of the view that this issue is what makes Benin chieftaincy interesting and highly respected, and therefore should not have been discussed on the pages of newspapers.”
It explained that the rites were a part of the investitures at designated houses and shrines and began as far back as 1255 AD, during the reign of Oba Ewedo.
It said such visits were accompanied with 8 kolanuts, a bottle of hot drink and 13 shillings, six pence (about N2,000).
The family listed other places usually visited by new chiefs as Ogbelaka shrine, Ekpenede 1&11, Uhuoba shrine, Iyase N’Ohenmwen shrine before emphasising that Mr. Isekhure never took more than was required.
On the allegation that he refused to perform his coronation duties (or Emwinekhua), the family explained that the council created the impression that he had nothing to do with the royal burial and coronation before then, since, it said, no invitation was extended to him.