Tension is brewing in Warri, the commercial hub of Delta State, following reports that two rival youth groups are at each others jugular over alleged moves by the Olu of Warri Kingdom, His Majesty Ogiame Atuwatse III, to abolish some age-long Itsekiri traditions and customs.
Among the traditions the Olu was said to be moving to abolish is the celebrated Awankere Festival of Okere Community.
It was gathered that the development became public knowledge on April 27 when some some gun-wielding youths, allegedly backed by the Itsekiri National Youths Council, shot sporadically in Okere Market Square during the morning hours while the rain was falling, before destroying a banner felicitating Chief Ayirimi Emami, the Ologbotsete of Warri, on his birthday celebration on April 26.
The development had fuelled suspicious that there may likely be clash between youth groups loyal to Emami and the revered monarch if any meeting is convened at the Okere community town hall as being planned.
The recent controversial installation of Chief Oma Eyewuoma as Ologbotsere on April 16 by the Olu of Warri had triggered fear in the Kingdom as Chief Emami, who had long challenged his controversial suspension as Ologbotsere of Warri in court, during the succession battle in Warri Kingdom, is still lawfully and traditionally recognised as the Ologbotsere of Warri Kingdom.
Dependable sources privy to the development revealed that there is tension in Okere Community since the gunshots heard at the Warri City centre as some youths have vowed to challenge any move to abolish their traditions and festivals.
The fear was further heightened by a surprise decision of the INYC leadership to fix its meeting at Okere Community Town Hall, after “Omajaja” descendants had scheduled their meeting for the same day and same venue.
According to sources, the meeting fixed by Omajaja enjoys the backing of majority of the former youth leaders of Okere.
It was gathered that the Omajajas are angry and had disapproved alleged plans by the Olu of Warri to stop the centuries-long celebrated Awankere Festival of Okere Community “after the monarch reportedly used anointing oil to abominably serve Ogbowuru at Ode- Itsekiri weeks ago, something past Olus of Warri, including Ogiame Atuwatse II, didn’t do,” a source said.
According to the source, the INYC, led by its President, Weyinmi Agbateyiniro, is believed to be the one executing the recent contentious orders made by the king, while the Omajajas, who are said to be vexed with the Olu’s unbelievable pronouncement few months ago, abolishing Omajaja and classifying Itsekiri indigenes into five groups, have vowed to fight against alleged moves by the Olu to wipe out Itsekiri tradition and customs.