The Warri Council in Delta State may have begun the search for a successor to the throne despite the traditional council’s denial of the Ogiame Atuwatse II’s demise.
Although details of how the 17th king of the ancient kingdom would emerge were sketchy, sources said the kingmakers might bypass Crown Prince Tsola Emiko, the first son of Atuwatse II.
The Itsekiri monarchy is hereditary and palace sources said the crown prince was his father’s chosen successor.
“It is true that the Ogiame has joined his ancestors, but we cannot announce it officially until certain procedures have been made and steps taken in line with the tradition and customs of the Itsekiri people.
“I can confidently tell you that we have commenced the search for a new Olu, so that when we announce his death, we can also say, ‘Long live the new king’ and that is the stage we are right now; that is the Itsekiri tradition.
“The search for a new Olu is on and I can tell you that the son of our father, king and custodian of our rich history and tradition is no longer in the race for a number of reasons, which every legitimate Itsekiri son and daughter is aware of,” the source said.
Various sources hinted that the crown prince’ disqualification might not be unconnected with his mother not being from areas earmarked to produce queen mothers.
“Only princes born by an Itsekiri or Bini queen can become Olu,” another source said.
An aged source explained that the law relating to the emergence of an Olu stipulated that he must not only be from the royal family, but must be born by either an Itsekiri or Bini mother.
The crown prince is from the Olu’s only wife – a Yoruba princess from Southwest.
“The stool of the Ogiame is one of the strongest glues that hold the Itsekiri nation together and we view it with high respect and dignity. We cannot allow the selection to be tainted in any form in order not to generate controversy.
“The mother of an Olu must be either an Itsekiri woman or from Bini Kingdom, because of our connection. If you know the history of the Itsekiri monarchy, you will understand what I mean,” our source added.
Nevertheless, it was gathered that the traditional council was now beaming its searchlight on other members of the royal family for a successor.
It was also gathered that the move to bypass the crown prince was already generating tension in the traditional council, as some chiefs were strongly canvassing support for Prince Tsola.
“Those canvassing Prince Tsola’s candidacy are said to be younger members of the council, even though older members are insisting on strict adherence to the gazette.
Sources also said there were debates on whether the next king should move away from the Emiko Ruling House, which produced the last two monarchs, Gbesimi Emiko (Erejuwa II) and his son Toritseju Emiko (Atuwatse II).