Police to punish policemen who arrested Bini chief priest

•3 dogs sacrificed near police headquarters

DISCIPLINARY action will be taken against the policemen who whisked away the Chief Priest of Okhuaihe shrine at Evbokhoi, Uhunmwode Local Government Area of Edo State , Chief Osarodion Usuanlele, the Ohen N’ Ukoni Neyedo to the Police headquarters in Benin for questioning, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. DanMallam Mohammed, has assured.

Going by age-long tradition which has been on since the times of Oba Ewuare the Great in the 15th century, the Ohen N’ UKoni is forbidden from setting his feet in Benin, the abode of the Oba as it is said to amount to a desecration.

To appease the gods, three dogs were said to have been slaughtered as sacrifices near the police headquarters before the chief priest was released last week.

Dan Mallam, who confirmed the arrest, however insisted that the arrest and transfer of the high chief by operatives of the Anti-Cultism Unit to Benin was based on a petition by one John “Atekha” Elvis, an ex-official of the banned Community Development Association (CDA) in the state.

Acting on the allegation by the local, who the police boss emphasised ought to know better, the Edo Police boss said that the police invited him to Benin for interrogation.

The commissioner however blamed the policemen for insisting on transferring the suspect to Benin despite his strident protest that moving him to the Edo State capital will amount to a desecration of Bini culture.

DanMallam said: “The issue could have been resolved over there at the local police station without moving him to Benin. The police must respect the culture and tradition of the people in areas where they operate. We are not taking the matter lightly and will deal with our men who are   involved in the incident. They ought to have listened to the complaint of the chief and deal with the matter at the nearest police station instead of bringing him to Benin.”

He denied receiving a list of items from the chief priest to cleanse the land, noting that the locals bought the items and did the sacrifice themselves.

The items reportedly included 14 native cows, tortoise, sheep, goats, cocks, among others.

As part of coronation rites of the Benin monarch, the chief priest engages in a symbolic wrestle with the prince of Benin, after which both men go opposite ways, never to see each other again, once the prince becomes the Oba.

The Secretary of Evbiekoi community, Chief Paul Ajayi lamented: “The policemen shot sporadically and insisted on taking the chief priest, Usunalele to Benin City, despite pleas that the man does not enter Benin or he would die.

“A strange and mysterious downpour, accompanied by violent wind, thunder and lightning, were part of the signs of desecration.

“The Oba got the signs of desecration and presence of Ohen N’ UKoni, and sent emissaries to the Police Commissioner, Danmallam Abubakar, after confirming that the Chief Priest was in Benin.”

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