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Royal Rhumble gets messier:
Prince Akenzua awaits court order
…Over Esama of Benin alleged home invasion, sue Igbinedion for N500m damages
*Two years marriage threatened 

The on-going litigation by a prince of the traditional Benin Kingdom, Avan Akenzua II that the Esama, Sir Gabriel Igbinedion, his father-in-law allegedly invaded his home and masterminded the burial of charms in his compound has been fixed for March 14.

In Suit Number PET/15/10 before Justice C. O. Agbaza of the Federal High Court (FCT) 23 Apo, Abuja, where Prince Akenzua was present and ably represented by Alexander Oketa of Festus Keyamo Chambers, Gabriela Omosede, the estranged wife, a lawyer was absent. Worse still, she was not represented by a counsel. The matter was part-heard after Prince Akenzua had testified and it was set down for further hearing.

Two year marriage set to crash

The high profile two year marriage of Prince Akenzua to Omosede, Igbinedion’s daughter seems irretrievably broken down, as the matter is before a Benin High Court seeking dissolution.
Investigations by Nigeria Standard show that the warring parties had opened old wounds with palace officials revisiting the controversial circumstances in which the wedding took place.
Division among members of the royalty
Further investigation by Nigeria Standard revealed that ‘forces’ within the Oba’s Palace in Benin were opposed to the marriage of Akenzua and Omosede, but preferred not to voice it out. But the love-smitten couple damned all the gossip, went ahead to contract the marriage, and even got it solemnized on the altar.  

Chief Nosa Idemudia, one of the Palace sword-bearers, was reportedly quoted recently to have said the turn of events in the celebrated marriage did not come to them as a surprise. He said “From the outset, we knew the relationship may not last and the marriage would not see the light of the day because the Esama still had outstanding issue with the Palace. His case is

not just with the Oba but 98 other Benin Chiefs, who ex communicated him from the Palace.”

Nigeria Standard learnt that Prince Edun Akenzua, Oba’s junior brother, had in a statement prior to the contentious marriage in 2008, announced that the Palace would not participate in the ceremonies. But, Avan’s father allegedly disregarded Edun’s letter and allowed the marriage to proceed.

Allegation of Idemudia
Idemudia reportedly claimed that Omosede was used and dumped by ex-International soccer star, Liberia’s George Opong Weah. He argued that she could not possibly turn to the gold that she was portrayed by her family prior to the marriage.

Eldorado marriage
The marriage of Akenzua to Omosede was a talk-of-the-town in and around Edo State for two years, because it was conducted with royal splendor.
It would be recalled that on that eventful day in 2008, Benin City, the capital of Edo State stood still for the society wedding between Omosede, daughter of Esama of Benin, high Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion and Prince Akenzua.

Prince Avan, son of the younger brother of Oba of Benin, His Royal Highness Uyiekpen Akenzua, while Omosede the eldest daughter of Lady Cheery, Chief Igbinedion’s jewel attracted crème-de-la crème in the society. That alone confirmed the wedding as a high profile one.

Face-off between Esama and Oba of Benin Kingdom
Nigeria standard learnt there had been no love lost between the Esama and Oba of Benin, Omo, N’ Oba Uku Akpolokpolor, Oba Erediawa, Palace chiefs and the entire royal family. For many onlookers, the royal marriage could only have provided a veritable opportunity to reconcile the differences in the two families.

Post-marriage first omen
Nigeria Standard gathered the first omen which showed imminent trouble in the marriage was when the prince dragged his father-in-law before a Benin High Court presided over by Justice Alero Eruaga. In the suit filed on his behalf by his attorney Mr. Oketa of the Festus Keyamo Chambers, Prince Avan leveled several allegations against the Esama, which are as incredible and scandalous.

For residents of Edoyaye Avenue, off Osawe Street, Etete, GRA, Benin City, they would not forget October 3 in a hurry. It was a day of rage when a lorry load of armed mobile policemen, said to be acting on the orders of the embattled Esama, stormed Avan’s mansion, where he lived with his wife and kid.

Eyewitnesses account revealed that the operatives came with two lorries to evacuate Omosede’s property. This incidence came a few months after Omosede had late last year reportedly packed some of her belongings out of her husband’s house over alleged irreconcilable differences.

But in the statement of claim filed at the Benin High Court, Prince Akenzua stated that shortly after their marriage in 2008, Chief Igbinedion started interfering in their marriage by insisting that they moved into the house he gave them as wedding gift.

According to Akenzua, he resisted it, opting, instead, to live with his wife in his own apartment. Akenzua further advanced the argument that as a Royal Prince, it is against his tradition to abandon his home and move in with a woman in another apartment.

Prince Akenzua explained: “…Due to Esama’s persistent pressure on his daughter (Omosede), she started exhibiting strange behaviours and engaging in fetish practices…” Besides, Nigeria Standard intelligence learnt Omosede would leave her matrimonial home for months without the prince consent and prior notice.

Allegation of fetish practice
For keen observers of the crisis, more scandalous is Prince Akenzua’s claim that at some point during their marriage, he saw a strange ritual pot containing some strange and fetish items with his photograph. He confronted his wife and she allegedly confessed that her dad (Igbinedion) gave her the pot to keep in her wardrobe.

Following his wife’s alleged reported confession, the prince further claims another strange pot was dug out of the entrance of the house that Igbinedion gave the couple as wedding gift.

Prince Akenzua angered by his wife’s insincerity, said based on his father-in-law’s unbearable pressure; Omosede began to fabricate stories and spreading malicious falsehood aimed at severing the good relationship between him, his parents and indeed the entire royal family.

Igbinedion’s threat and Prince Akenzua’s claims
In his statement of defense filed in court, Prince Akenzua said that Chief Igbinedion called his uncle Mr. Solomon Ebuwa and asked him to warn his father that he wanted to invade his (Akenzua’s) residence with policemen, adding that he should inform the prince not to argue with them, otherwise they will shoot him. Ebuwa related this to the prince’s dad through phone call on the 5th of March, 2010. He claimed the threat was immediately reported to the Nigerian Police Force.

The prince further claims that on August 26, 2010, Chief Igbinedion sent his Chief Security Officer, Mr. Collins Igbinidu, a contingent of armed policemen attached to him and armed thugs to invade his  residential house at Etete, G.R.A, Benin City, Edo State. He claimed they broke into his house, raided, vandalized properties, carted away his valuable and took same to Esama’s house who has converted the same to his personal use.

Painfully for the prince, the invasion was carried out while he was away to Abuja. He explained that his father, H.R.H Akenzua (JP), reported the matter at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Benin.

He alleged that Chief Igbinedion’s thugs carted away his Safe containing £200,000 cash; Jewelries (coral beads of over a century old, diamond, gold of classic orient, arts, artifacts of the Benin heritage); Cheque booklets of Access Bank Akpakpava; Guarantee Trust Bank, Akpakpava; Oceanic Bank, Ikpoba Hill; travel document, academic documents from secondary to tertiary institutions (Secondary School Certificate (WAEC); University degree certificate and NYSC certificate) and original landed property document in the safe were all taken away.

Other household items the prince claims were carted away from his house included his educational certificates; Sony LCD TV 55inches valued at N1-million; a Samsung LCD TV 46 inches valued at N400, 000 and 7 LG 42 inches TV sets valued at N1.4-million. Others are 8 air-conditioners valued at N1.47-million; assorted items in his Gym valued at N1.41million; assorted chandeliers worth N950,000, rugs worth N450,000, chairs valued at N2.2million and a security device worth N320,000.

Prince Akenzua therefore prayed the court for an order directing Chief Igbinedion and his Chief Security Officer, their servants, agents, privies or howsoever called to forthwith to return his safe with the entire content.

In totality, Prince Akenzua wants the court to compel his estranged father-in-law to pay him about N600million as damages. At the last hearing of the matter, Justice Alero Ereaga directed Chief Igbinedion to reply Prince Akenzua within the next seven days to enable the court to fix a date for hearing.

On this matter, Esama is confronted with myriad of forces and will need a ‘miracle’ not to soil his hard-earned reputation built over the years.

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