…..Over 5,000 Police Deployed To Provide Security
The ancient Benin Kingdom in Edo State is already agog as new down beckons with the Coronation of the 38thnew Oba of Benin, Crown Prince Eheneden Erediauwa, in what is expected to be the most colourful in the history of the Kingdom today.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Repreentatives, Yakubu Dogara, state Governors, Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad , Abubakar, Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Ooni of Ife Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe are expected to grace the epoch event.
Among other dignitaries expected are members of Diplomatic Corps, forum of Niger Delta Traditional Rulers, Edo Indigenes in Diaspora, members of the Political class and other.
Major roads leading to the venue of the event are wearing new looks as security has been stepped up in the ancient city of Benin, ahead of Thursday’s coronation of the new Oba.
Over 5,000 Policemen have been deployed and positioned in and around the King’s Square, Usama Palace axis, Five Junction which links the route to Use village and Airport Road, Ekenwan, among others.
Some regular and mobile policemen, personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) as well as palace security guards have also been stationed at the entrance of the Urho-Okpota in King’s Square.
As part of final preparation to the coronation the Oba designate had on Tuesday picked a new name which will be officially made know to members of the Pubic during
Meanwhile, contrary to the belief that the Crown Prince, who is well travelled and educated, may shelve some of the rituals slated for his ascension to the throne, he chose to fulfil all the rituals as they were done by his fore fathers, removing nothing. Infact, that has attracted thousands of Edo sons and daughters, from home and abroad, to witness the epoch making ceremonies.
As the Crown Prince moved from one place to the other, you could see the uniqueness of the Benin Kingdom, as no fewer than 10,000 persons, including Benin chiefs, cultural groups, foreigners, youths, residents of the kingdom followed him with excitement.
Journey To the Throne
The Crown Prince began the journey to the throne, penultimate Saturday, with a foot procession, escorted by Uselu people, after he left Eguae Edaiken (Uselu) for Oredo. He trekked a distance of about 10 kilometers from his temporary palace at Uselu to Eko-Ohae (bachelors camp) to Oredo Local Government Area. But while on his way to Oredo where Oredo chiefs took charge of his movement, the Edaiken stopped at the sacred Eguae Palm Tree which is called Udin Amamieson-Aimiuwa and aged about 500 years.
The tree was first climbed by Oba Ewuare in the 15th century and some offerings were offered before the Crown Prince proceeded on his coronation journey. Commercial activities were paralysed along the routes he trekked through, mainly Benin-Lagos Road and Lagos Street. That same day, he arrived at Iya-akpan, the present day Five-Junction where Uselu chiefs took leave of him and Oredo chiefs took over. It was chiefs from Benin that escorted the Crown Prince to Benin-City. That same day at about 6:30pm, the Crown Prince arrived Eko-Ohae in Oredo, where he spent three days while private ceremonies were conducted.
Various cultural troupes, like the Iten Edo Theatre Group, Benin Royal Dynasty Trust Dance moved with the crowd to entertain them. On Tuesday, the Edaiken leaves Eko-Ohae for Usama palace where the coronation rituals continue. The coronation rituals will took place at the Uzama palace which was first built and lived in by Prince Oranmiyan.
It was Oba Ewedo that moved the Oba palace to its present location. A makeshift building was erected at the Uzama palace ground and workers were seen maintaining the road leading to the Uzama palace. The ancient road, known as ‘Odeoba’ (Oba’s Road), which the Crown Prince walked through was fixed also.
The Crown Prince also walked through Oba Market Road, Ebo Street and Odeoba to Usama palace. Motorists and pedestrians have been barred from driving or walking on Ebo Street. Some chiefs, in red attires, were seen on the road preventing people from passing through.
The coronation ceremonies also climax on Tuesday when the Crown Prince, who will remain in Usama palace until the Thursday coronation date, proceeded to Use village where he choose a name he wants to be addressed as king. The moment he picked his name for the throne, he stops answering Ehenede Erediauwa.
After picking the name, Edaiken returned to Usama to prepare ahead of the D-Day which is Thursday. He is expected to take a good rest on Wednesday and, on Thursday, he passes through Isekherhe to Urho-Okpota, where the coronation will take place. Urho-Okpota ground, located at Ring Road, the heart of the ancient Benin City, has been condoned off following on-going work ahead of the grand finale of the coronation. The ground is wearing a new look.
Traders have also vacated the area. The hall which is known for hosting great traditional and political events is located adjacent the Oba Market. The ground has been venue for the crowning of every Oba of Benin, and that is the reason most politicians in the state who are either aspiring to be governor or running for any political position scramble for space in the hall for the declaration of their political intentions.
It is generally believed in the kingdom that the gods of Benin will always grant success to any politician who declares his intention at the traditional Urho-Okpota hall. It is a ground for the making of kings. That ground, even as small as it is, is expected to play host to President Muhammadu Buhari and other world leaders who will witness the coronation on Thursday.
It would be recalled that throughout that the coronation period, burial rites in Benin have been prohibited. And since the commencement of the rituals, all commercial activities around the Eko-Ohae and Urho-Okpota have been banned.
Meanwhile, most hotels within the state capital and neighbouring towns are fully booked with visitors who had arrived the state capital to witness the historic event.