THE Olu of Warri designate, Prince Godfrey Ikenwole Abiloye Emiko, yesterday emerged temporarily from seclusion to to lead Itsekiri chiefs in the Iken rites, the traditional escort of a departed Olu, to join his ancestors at the Itsekiri Royal Cemetery.
Prince Emiko, joined by Chiefs of the Traditional Advisory Council, CTAC, led his predecessor, HRM Ogiame Atuwatse II, through Ode Itsekiri, their ancestral home, also known as Big Warri, to Ijala where Ginuwa, the first Itsekiri monarch, was buried and has since become the Royal Cemetery in Warri South Local Government Area, Delta State.
The procession involved rituals.
After performing the rituals, the Olu designate returned from the inner cemetery where he prayed for the prosperity of the throne, the subjects, and the Itsekiri nation in general, ahead of a new chapter in the kingdom.
Chairman, Warri Study Group, Edward Ekpoko, speaking on the the significance of the event, said the Iken rites were integral to the role the Olu designate was expected to play before he could fully be crowned an Olu as gazetted in Section 9 of the customary law regulating succession to the throne.
According to Ekpoko: “What has happened is a condition precedent to the Olu Elect’s own installation. The law declares that failure to perform and conclude the Iken rites by an Olu designate is a barrier to his installation as Olu. This Iken signals the commencement of the burial rites. The Olu designate will go back into seclusion, but for the next three lunar months, other burial rites will be concluded, paving way for installation rites for the incoming Olu.”
Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, the Igba of Warri, on her part, said: “The history that is being repeated in our kingdom by today’s event also signifies the real exchange of baton between the departed Olu and his successor. The Olu designate went in with the departed predecessor to meet their ancestors and he came out alone. That bears a strong message of handover. This is even more significant than the open installation which is mainly ceremonial.”
Other chiefs who participated in the ceremony included Chief Yaya Pessu,Ojomo of Warri; Chief Felix Esisi, Olare-Aje of Okere; Chief Roland Omagbemi, Ewolufun of Warri and Chief Thomas Eyeritomi, Akitigbi-Ayeola of Warri.