- Benin palace, church clash over sacrifice demand
Activities were disrupted during a church service at the Living Faith Church also known as Winners Chapel in Benin, the Edo State yesterday.
This followed what members of the congregation described as a strange visit of emissaries of Omo N’Oba Nedo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, over a member, who reportedly committed suicide in the place of worship.
It was learnt that family and members of the church had allegedly brought down the victim from where he was dangling and rushed him to a nearby hospital to conceal the incident and to avert consequences.
But the incident later attracted the attention of the Benin monarch who quickly deployed the Ewanse (palace functionaries) to the church located on Upper Erhunwumse Street in the ancient town.
Following the intervention of the palace, tension was said to have heightened among the leadership and members of the Pentecostal church as they tried to ensure the case did not get out of hands.
It was learnt that the visit by palace functionaries was informed by an alleged disobedience by leadership of the church to placate the gods of Benin Kingdom over the abominable act.
At press time, policemen from Evboutubu Divisional Station were drafted to area to forestall any breakdown of law and order.
The palace functionaries were said to have engaged representatives of the church in a dialogue which lasted several hours. The meeting aimed at resolving the impasse.
The leader of the Ewanse group, who refused to disclose his name, said the gathering would not have been necessary had the leadership of the church done the needful as required in Benin tradition and culture.
He said the palace was angered because the church fra-grantly removed a traditional sign placed on the building by palace functionaries which signifies an alleged abominable act was committed by a church worker.
He added that, as a matter of urgency, the leadership of the church must visit the palace to enquire about the sacrificial items needed to appease the gods of the land.
Efforts to get the comment of the pastor or a member of the church on the incident yesterday failed as they all declined to speak on the matter. A source in the church disclosed that the deceased, whose name was not readily known, was not a pastor as earlier speculated in some quarters.
The source added that though the victim had lost his life in the hospital as some family and church members rushed him to a nearby hospital immediately he was caught in the suicide act a few days ago.
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Moses Nkombe, when contacted on the incident yesterday, said details of the incident had not been available to the command.
Also when contacted on the phone yesterday, the palace Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mr. Odemwenmgie Donald, confirmed the incident.
He said: “I don’t even know the church where the incident occurred but I know that a pastor committed suicide there.” On the visit of the Ewanse group from the palace, he said: “There are various sections of palace functionaries, groups and societies and they don’t inform us when they want to carry out any function.