BY PATRICK OCHOGA, Benin City
The Zone 5 Command of the Nigeria Police Force, Benin City, Edo State, has quizzed the traditional Prime Minister of the Warri Kingdom in Delta State, Chief Ayiri Emami, over the invasion of the palace of the Olu of Warri.
Following the demise of the immediate past Olu of Warri, Ogiame Ikenwoli (Atuwatse II) in December, 2020, the palace was reportedly invaded and the 400-year-old crown and symbol of the Itsekiri monarchy were declared missing.
The death of the Olu had created a succession tussle, which eventually produced Prince Tsola Emiko as the chosen Olu-elect (Omoba) of Warri.
The police had in its letter of invitation with reference number: CR3000/2N.5/X/AV/Vol/83/41, dated Wednesday, April 21, 2021, said the interrogation became imperative over the kingship crisis in the Warri kingdom which has resulted in high-level tension in the oil-rich town and its environs.
Ayiri, who is the embattled Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom, was questioned alongside another chief, Macgrey Richmond, for over two hours at the zonal police headquarters before they were allowed to leave at about 1.45 pm on Friday.
Speaking with journalists in Benin City shortly after the interrogation, Emami said he told the police that he knew nothing about the invasion of the palace.
He said, “I was invited based on the incident in Warri and it happens to be the invasion of the Olu palace that was why I was invited and I told them I know nothing about that because I was not in town when that incident happened. So, I know nothing about it and I told them I know nothing about it.
“It is about that laid down procedure, which is one of the reasons why I am here and I have told the police. The police have questioned me on that issue, what led to the invasion, I have answered that and other issues I can’t divulge.
“I did not sign any undertaking, all they asked was who invaded the palace and that certain things are missing in the palace, they want to know the whereabouts of those things and I told them what I know.
“As a person, I, Ayiri Emami, cannot say that I am in support or not. We have laid down rules and procedures that the Itsekiri normally operate on, so as Ayiri, the issue has nothing to do with myself.
“The person in question (Olu-designate) is my brother, he is my friend. So, I have no personal issue when you say Ayiri is not in support, whatever we are doing as Itsekiri, there are laid down procedure and that is what I am trying to do. So, it is not that I am not in support in whatever they are doing.
“I am not the one that reported this issue here, they reported and I have been invited and I came here and I have made my statement so it is left for the police to act not me.
Speaking on his suspension, Emami said, “I don’t know where the ruling house derived that power from. I was asked to be summoned by an edict you can’t take some part of the law and you want to do away with the other part, so I don’t know where they derive their powers from. So, I don’t talk about suspension.”
He said talks were ongoing to ensure that peace return to Warri kingdom.
“There are talks ongoing and all that I pray for is for peace to come back to my kingdom,” he added.