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Published On: Mon, Sep 16th, 2013

Itsekiris Join Monarch for Thanksgiving Service, as Uduaghan Faults Palace Siege

LAGOS SEPTEMBER 16TH (URHOBOTODAY)- – Thousands of Itsekiris on Sunday joined the Olu of Warri, His Royal Majesty, Ogiame Atuwatse’s II, for a church thanksgiving service at the palace in Warri after a week of siege to the palace by protesting Itsekiri people.
The resolution of the week-long crisis and siege to the Warri palace followed the decision of the monarch to rescind his ‘controversial New Order of Iwere Kingdom’ which sparked the protest.

The “declaration”, had abolished idolatry, Itsekiri traditional anthem, as well as the Ogiame” title which the monarch alleged connotes an allegiance to “Umalokun” (goddess of the sea).
The Itsekiri people who had reiterated that they were not against the monarch being a ‘devout Christian’, on Sunday, therefore gathered at the Foursquare Gospel Church located within the Olu palace (Aghofen), Ugbori, Warri to climax the week-long siege on the palace in protest of the recanted “declaration”.
It was the first Sunday church service held in the sanctuary which was earlier shut down to worshipers at during the siege to the palace. The monarch is a devout member of Foursquare Gospel Church and have one of the parish inside his palace.
After the church service, the Itsekiris led by their traditional chiefs, sang the Itsekiri traditional anthem and paid obeisance to the King, chanting “Ogiame suooo”, a traditional way in which they express deferential respect such as prostrating, bowing or courtesy to the king.
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State and other top government functionaries graced the service that was spiced up with a lot of Itsekiri culture, singing and dancing by various groups wearing traditional outfits.
Bishop Mike Laju from Benin who delivered the sermon at the thanksgiving service, took his scripture from the book of Isaiah 7:14 which he christened; mystery of the womb and mystery of the tomb.
He admonished Itsekiri people to bear in mind that they have one God, one King (referring to the Olu) and one people, saying nothing should tear them apart as a people.
The cleric urged the people to always love their King, worship God and live together as one people, one family, saying the kingship is a symbol of unity for Itsekiri people.
“We have one God, one king, one people. We shall not be separated for life, we will leave together and build the land together”, the cleric said.
He urged the people to learn how to forgive easily as Christ forgives us our sin and trespasses and leave a Christ-like life devoid of isolation saying isolation breed evil thought and evil happenings.
“You might have offended your God and your might have offended the king, you might offend me, I might offend you but God says go back to the one you have offended and your heart will be at peace. Let us learn to forgive and live together as one, that is love.”
“The progress made by a people is when they movement together. To leave in isolation is evil, the progress made by any nation is when its people move together”, he added.
In his remark during the service, Governor Uduaghan expressed delight that the crisis had culminated in thanksgiving, saying if it weren’t God’s intervention, the land would have been on fire by now.
“If not for the Lord, what would Iwere Kingdom be? It was a very difficult moment for us, we prayed but while we were praying and making efforts to make peace, some people were inciting but at the end of the day, God intervene,” he said.
He said the royal logjam was a test on leadership, saying “leadership is not about popularity” but about “what you have for the people.”
Uduaghan also said: “Leadership is more than being popular. Your leadership is tested in time of trouble. How do you use that leadership charisma is what makes you a good leader,” as he saluted the wisdom and understanding of the Olu.
While paying glowing tribute to the monarch for his fatherly role displayed while the challenges lasted, the governor also underscored the various peaceful roles played by chiefs in the Kingdom, some community leaders, religious leaders as well as the youths.
“There should be understanding and the fear of God because we have one God, one King and we are one people and today I am a very proud of Itsekiri man,” the governor added.
He however decried the ugly roles played by some community leaders who he alleged tried to incite the youths to go into war.
“At this time last week, while some were making peace and trying to intervene, some were preaching war, inciting people to go to war, to burn houses, even quoting biblical principles to back their claims,” the governor said.
Uduaghan warned such ‘leaders’ to desist from inciting the youths in times of crisis, saying such destructive tendencies could be very dangerous to communities.
“In communities where there are crisis, we must do extra work to attain peace, our leaders should work for peace rather than inciting youths to go to war.
“I want to thank our youths for their understanding in this matter, it was a difficult moment but our youths refused to be used as agents of destruction,” he said, as he noted that the challenging period in Iwere Kingdom was a tough one but God took control of the situation.
A statement issued by the publicity committee of the event headed by Prince Omolubi Newuwumi, who had led the protest, said the thanksgiving was a special event to express appreciation to God for granting the people the wisdom to address the issues peacefully.
The statement which was co-signed by Prince Emmanuel Okotie-Eboh, Hon Otib Onugboh and Johnson Agbeyegbe, said the protest was to show to the world that the Itsekiri nation remains indivisible with one king, one language, one culture and tradition.
“This is the whole essence of the occasion. The Itsekiris had always and will forever remain loyal to the monarch,” the statement noted.

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