Benin dukes back Governor Obaseki’s ban on cultism, youth leader


Governor Godwin Obaseki’s move banning cultists and and activities of Okaeghes (youth leader) in communities in South Senatorial District received a boost today as members of the Association of Enigie (dukes) threw their weight behind the ban.

The ban imposed hold on the activities of the Okaegheles was informed by the accusation that they were using their position to carry out the activities of the outlawed Community Development Associations (CDAs), who at a time were terrorising the people of the district through illegal land grabbing, sales and double sales.

A statement signed by Professor Gregory Akenzua and Edomwonyi Iduozee Ogiegbaen also lashed out at people they said were trying to politicise the position of the state governor, which was a decision of the Security Council meeting of the state.

Part of the statement reads that the ban on CDAs which was initiated by Oba Ewuare II eight years ago, and backed by law enacted by the state government said: “This ban on Community Development Associations (CDAs) is what paved way for the re-emergence to prominence of Okaegheles as the Head of the Youth Age Grade in Benin Traditional System.

“Ordinarily the Eghele Group is made up of mature youth, not old enough to be Elders, but strong enough to attend to the needs of society for manual public works like road maintenance and other diverse assignments they may be called upon to perform by the Elders.

“Whereas the Community Development Associations (CDAs) were groups of young men who banded themselves together and often derived their claimed legitimacy from being registered with the Ministry of Youths and Social Development, the Okaeghele was an appointee of the Elders, headed by the Odionwere.” The Enigie said.

The Enigie added that the powers of the Okaegheles, which were derived from the elders of the community, were supposed to be under the control and supervision of the Elders but that they later deviated and turned themselves into law because of the enormous resources available to them from sale of community lands.

The association said the Okaegheles “corrupt the corruptible, and put at their beck and call lawyers, policemen, soldiers, other Security Agents and Palace Functionaries who are amenable to being corrupted.

“Above all, to maintain their hold, they acquire sophisticated firearms, create their army of armed thugs and find solace and strength in membership of secret cults with local and national spread, which they put to use as they deem fit. Little wonder, the wanton needless taking of lives that is now the order of the day in Edo Land. They dispose of huge parcels of land cheaply, and sometimes in exchange for cars and invariably end up living lavishly, building hotels, vast estates, promoting and funding cult rivalry.

“Perhaps the greatest threat to society is the penchant of the Okaegleles to resort to violence in their intolerance of opposition to their nefarious activities, which they even feel empowered enough to take on Law Enforcement Agencies like the police and soldiers.

“It is with all of the above in mind that we can understand the reaction of the Governor of Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki, following the last Edo State Security Council meeting, wherein the decision was taken to ban the position of Okaegheles in our society.

“For us as Enigies of Edo South Senatorial District, the need to curb the excesses of the Okaegheles is one that should elicit the support of all right thinking citizens. There is no room for indifference on this matter, or the making of political capital out of it.

“We call on all decent people of our land, to play our respective roles, to put an end to what has become the brigandage of the youth under Okaegheles, in desecration of our cherished tradition,” the association pleaded.

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