Warri, the ancient Iwere Kingdom and ancestral home of the Itsekiri in Nigeria’s Delta State was agog on Saturday as His Royal Highness Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko, was crowned the 21st Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse III.
His installation marks the first time in over 200 years that the eldest son of an Olu would ascend the throne, with his mother still alive and healthy.
The new Olu was officially crowned by the Uwangue of Warri, Chief Gabriel Awala, leading other designated kingmakers, after Emiko had successfully concluded all the mandatory traditional rites for ascension to the throne.
His crowning lays to rest the bickering and controversies over who succeeds the immediate past Olu, His Majesty Ogiame Ikenwoli, who joined his ancestors in December 2020.
In his opening speech, after his investiture as the newly-installed Olu of Warri, His Royal Highness, Ogiame Atuwatse III, revisited the past to reverse an age-long curse placed on Nigeria by his grandfather, Olu Erejuwa II, as a result of alleged injustice meted out to him.
He declared, “While not seeking to reopen old wounds, it is pertinent to recall the fact that following the grave injustice meted out to Olu Erejuwa II, he visited His Royal Majesty, Oba Akenzua II of Benin, and recounted his ordeal.”
“In a reaction, a curse was placed on the land by both of them. It is neither recorded that Olu Erejuwa II reversed the curse over the land nor is it recorded that Oba Akenzua II did the same. Most probably, the issue was never revisited.”
As a firm believer in the intricate interconnectedness between the spiritual and the manifestation in the physical, it is our firm belief that the matter needs to be addressed, he stated.
“Today, in our capacity as Olu, we hereby avow, as the spiritual, cultural, political and traditional ruler of this land, I, Ogiame Atuwatse III, the 21st Olu of Warri, the first son of Olu Atuwatse II, the grandson and direct descendant of Olu Erejuwa II, who was offended on this throne, I hereby reverse the curse placed over this land,” the Olu declared.
“In its place, I release forgiveness and healing to the Federal Government of Nigeria whose might was used to propagate that offence. And I decree unprecedented and uncommon peace, prosperity, progress, development upon this land. I bring down the government of heaven upon this land and I direct it to flow as a force that can neither be sabotaged, slowed nor stopped. It goes out as a strong ripple effect emanating from this kingdom to the rest of the Niger Delta, the rest of the Nigerian nation and even the African continent,” he proclaimed in blessing.
Ogiame Erejuwa II was the paramount leader of the Itsekiri and the 18th Olu of Warri, who reigned from 1951 to 1964 and from 1966 to 1986.
It would be recalled that following unhealthy rivalry between prominent Itsekiri leaders in the Action Group and the NCNC in the lead to the creation of a Mid-West region, Olu Erejuwa II, who was perceived to have backed Action Group, was deposed by the NCNC-led regional government in 1964 and deported to Ogbesse. He was later to be re-appointed in 1966 by the new military government of David Ejoor.
The investiture of the Olu was attended by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams; the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, Dr Ado Ibrahim; as well as representatives of the Emir of Kano and the Emir of Zazzau, together with other dignitaries from governments and industry.