A new era dawns in the oil-rich Iwerre (Warri) Kingdom in Delta State as a young, vibrant and popular monarch mounts the exalted throne of his forefathers

On Saturday 21 August, the ancient town of Warri in Delta State witnessed a watershed moment that has etched it in the subconscious of Nigerians and friends of Nigeria from all walks of life –  and further reiterated the Kingdom’s long-revered place in global reckoning. It was the coronation of Prince Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko, son of Godwin Toritseju Emiko (the Late Ogiame Atuwatse II) as the new Olu (King) of the oil-rich city.

Warri or Iwerre Kingdom, which is nestled in the economically significant Niger Delta region of Nigeria, under this new cosmopolitan, gregarious and upwardly mobile monarch, is bound to experience great paradigm shifts and seismic changes in the areas of tourism, infrastructure, economic development and, by extension, improvements in the people’s social development index. In other words, the new Olu of Warri is able and poised to help reverse the great paradoxes of the region, a place so blessed in hydrocarbon deposits, yet the people wallow in gut-wrenching penury. It is a terrain so endowed with flora and fauna and other biodiversity, but has, over the years, been a victim of environmental degradation that sent into a tailspin its ecological equilibrium. In plain language, because of pollution, farmers can neither farm nor fish.

 

Taking a panoramic view of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, say from a low flying chopper, helicopter or propeller plane, looking down on this littoral region –  ignore the gas flares here and there that look like giant candles in the wind. They will soon become things of the past. What you will see, for want of a better expression, will be breathtaking. You are bound to observe River Niger, meandering like a giant anaconda through the tropical rain forest, from Fouta Djallon mountainous region of west-central Guinea to the confluence town of Lokoja, to empty in a dendritic pattern into the Atlantic. Burrowed like an eagle’s nest near Warri River, one of the Niger River’s outlets is Warri City itself, boisterous in the interplay of man and commerce. A concourse of humanity!

Zoom closer to observe the Warri Kingdom’s Royal Cemetery, the resting place of all the Kings that have ever reigned there. There you will see Iroko trees that are over 400 years old. One other major landmark you will find is Nana’s Palace, a history museum, in Koko. It shows how life in Warri was before civilisation. Chief Nana Olomu, a powerful entrepreneur who lived in the 19th century, built it. You are bound to see the Effurun Garden Park just next to the Olu of Warri’s Palace and it is always full of people enjoying themselves under rare species of trees, and palms. Now, focus closer to see the Red Mangrove Swamp, located near the Abraka Golf Course. In your view of the region, please adjust your telescope to a place called Ode Itsekiri, located deep in the creeks and mangrove swamps. This is where the coronation of the 21st Olu (heralded by a boat regatta) took place on Saturday 21 August. It is something that tourists will never regret witnessing. That is Warri, its new Olu, his retinue of chiefs and loyal subjects in royal grandeur.

 

The emergence of the new Olu of Warri

Following the election of Prince Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko to succeed his late Uncle, His Royal Majesty, Ogiame Ikenwoli, the 20th Olu of Warri, there were, expectedly, a few dissenting voices. It was actually gratifying that those who opposed Prince Emiko’s coronation as the 21st Olu of Warri proceeded to the law court or are currently embracing reconciliation. This is because, if the dissenting persons had embraced the knives, machetes, guns, firebombs and other dangerous weapons of mayhem in an orgy of “Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)”, the negative domino effect would have been on the Nigerian economy. This is to say that the catastrophe would have created a wide gash on the pocket of the nation and left its finances limping on a pair of crutches

 

Behold the new Olu – the Profile of the King

Prince Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko Was Born On April 2, 1984 to Prince Godwin Toritseju Emiko (the Late Ogiame Atuwatse II, the 19th Olu of Warri) & Gladys Durorike Emiko, in Warri, Nigeria. He Attended the Prestigious Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Primary School in Warri. For his secondary education, the young Prince was at Adesoye College, Offa, Kwara State from 1995 to 2001. For his tertiary education, Prince Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko got admitted into Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA where he bagged a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree, Majoring in International Studies & Political Science, with minors in History & Economics Between 2002 & 2006.

 

The new Olu of Warri further earned a Master’s of Science in Management Degree, from Case Western Reserve University in 2007. He returned to Nigeria for the mandatory national youth service programme (NYSC) in 2008 wherein he served in the Public Affairs Department of National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS). From 2009 To 2010, he worked as an Officer at the Shell Nigeria Closed Pension Fund Administrator (SNCFPA) and was at Sahara Energy as Government Relations Officer (2010-2012).

 

Prince Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko, a serial Entrepreneur is the founder of Noble Nigeria Ltd and Coral Curator Ltd. He Is the Chairman, Ocean Marine Security Ltd and Director, Gulf of Guinea Ltd and Vessellink Nig Ltd. His Business acumen is believed to have flowed from his Late Father, the 19th Olu of Warri.

 

His Royal Majesty, Ogiame Tsola Emiko is a loving and caring husband of Mrs. Ivie Uhunoma Emiko and they are blessed with three children:  Oritsetsemiaye, Oritsetemisan & Oritsetimeyin Emiko. The new Olu of Warri loves traveling, hiking, swimming, football, basketball & American Football. He is a lover of history and enjoys watching good movies. He is a devout Christian and an avid nation builder.

Why the new Olu enjoys huge support and following in Warri and beyond

  • The first factor is that he is young, bursting with energy. Analysts say his relatively young age will give him the advantage to hit the ground running and to start firing on all cylinders.
  • He is cosmopolitan. This is to say that the new King has contacts with lots of people from different parts of Nigeria and the world at large and as a result, he is very open to different ideas and ways of doing things. His education at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio is a pointer to this fact.
  • The new Olu is reputedly a bridge builder across several sections and facets of Nigeria. Consider his early education at Olashore at Iloko Ijesha and Adesoye College in Offa, Kwara State. In 2017, at the posthumous honour to his father, Olu Atuwatse II at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Emiko said: “Away from Iloko-Ijesha, I would also find myself in Oshogbo several times over the same six-year span. For those wondering why I was moving through Osun State, my boarding school was 40 odd minutes down the road from Oshogbo in Offa, Kwara State, Adesoye College. Those six years further endeared this part of the country to me, as at the beginning and end of each school term for those six years, we would embark on a road trip. The drive from Warri would take us through Benin, to Ore, to Ondo town, to Ife, to Osogbo, and then on to Offa. On a couple of occasions, we passed the night in Ife, in the Palace nonetheless.”
  • He understands the Niger Delta terrain and the politics of oil as it affects the people. He worked in the Public Affairs Department of the National Petroleum Investment Management Service (NAPIMS), and this has, no doubt, given him an advantage.
  • Testimonies of prominent people. Maxwell Areyinka, in his 19 July 2021 Vanguard article, Oluship: A time to Heal, Develop and Ensure an Enduring Legacy in Warri Kingdom, wrote: “Little wonder that his announcement as the 21st Olu of Warri designate was greeted with excitement by the high and low in the state and beyond, including the Itsekiris, as a monarch who will make a mark with distinction and difference in the kingdom”.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari, while congratulating the new Olu of Warri, prayed for a peaceful reign that will be signpost by massive development of Itsekiri land. The President called for reconciliation after a race for the throne and noted that peradventure any dissension exists such should be resolved through due process.

 

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, on his part, also gave his backing to Emiko and called for reconciliation of the people to ensure a peaceful reign. “I extend my congratulations to the new monarch and we assure him that our prayers are with him just as we pray that the Itsekiri nation will remain united. It is only when there is peace that we can have development not only in Warri but the entire Delta State,” Okowa stated.

 

Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu, National leader of Nigeria’s ruling political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a former Governor of Lagos state, while congratulating Emiko on his ascension to the revered throne of the Olu of Warri, fell short of telling the people that he (Emiko) is someone God has prepared for the responsibility of ushering a new dawn in Warri kingdom. Tinubu, while praying that the kingdom will experience rapid development and prosperity under Emiko, said, “I’m delighted over the emergence of the new Olu of Warri Kingdom, Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko. His peaceful emergence is a testament to the fact that he is indeed ordained to mount the throne of his forefathers. I congratulate the new Olu and the entire Itsekiri nation. May his reign usher in peace, unity, rapid development and prosperity to Warri Kingdom,” Tinubu said.

 

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi hailed the selection of new Olu of Warri, saying the process followed laid down norms, culture and tradition. This is as he said that the Yoruba nation would continue to foster mutual respect and nurture the chain of relationship that bonded the two ethnic nationalities.

 

“From the sacred throne of Oduduwa at Ile-Ife, we rejoice with Omooba Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko as the new Olu of Warri and Itesekiri people all over the world. We look forward to peace, concord and progress across Itsekiri land during the reign of the new Olu of Warri. All the descendants of Oduduwa all over the world look forward to a progressive reign of the new monarch.

 

“We are proud of the blood bound relationship among all the descendants of Oduduwa and our Itsekiri brothers and sisters. We cherish the shared history, common ancestry, common spirituality, shared fears and aspirations.

 

“Our forefathers stood by each other in moments of thick and thin, they stood shoulder-to-shoulder as one indivisible energy, we hope to keep this precious gift they left for us. We cherish this important history. We shall guide it and defend it to the good of the great civilisations of Itsekiri and Yoruba people, a memory that has survived decades of travails and trials,” the Ooni enthused.

 

 

Developments the Reign of the New Olu Could Bring to Warri

The new Olu of Warri’s reign, according to Areyinka, is not expected to fall short of the developmental stride and transformation that the 28-year reign of his father, Ogiame Atuwatse II, brought to Warri. At the Ife posthumous award for his father, the then Prince Emiko submitted: “I want to touch briefly on the dreams he (his late father) had and goals he set, which he wanted to see carried forward. When one thinks about the position of the Itsekiri monarchy and its contribution to national and international development, the first thing that comes to mind is the fact that it’s a tremendously oil-rich kingdom, sitting on huge deposits of oil and gas reserves. But we all know these facts, and sadly we still have not realised maximum benefits from these resources, and in some cases, it has brought more harm than good to the local people…”

 

True!  The story of Royal Dutch Shell in Warri in particular and its importance in Nigeria, in general, cannot be told without looking at the evolution of the political economy of the Niger Delta region.  The exploitation of the Niger Delta started off with slave trade. And with the campaigns of people like William Wilberforce, it was abolished. This is well detailed in a book, Where Vultures Feast: Shell, Human Rights and Oil, written by Ike Okonta, an Oxford University scholar and the late Oronto Douglas, a lawyer, environmentalist and an aide of former President Goodluck Jonathan. Trade in palm oil came in as a replacement during the reign of Queen Victoria of England. The arrowhead of this change was John Beecroft, who Okonta and Douglas described as Her Britannic Majesty’s Consul to the Bight of Benin and Biafra. Sir George Tobman Goldie also promoted British trade monopoly of palm oil and rubber through his Royal Niger Company. The Discovery of oil also deepened the people’s woes. They wrote: “The plunder of the Niger Delta has turned full circle as crude oil has taken the place of palm oil, but the dramatis personae remain the same: a powerful multinational company bent on extracting the last drop of blood from the richly endowed Niger Delta, and a courageous people determined to resist.” Therefore, as Areyinka wrote, the new Olu, given his background, is expected to provide the leadership that will ensure an enduring peace between his people and oil majors that the Itsekiri nation plays host to.

 

Generally regarded as a serial entrepreneur, the new Olu of Warri is also expected to bridge the gap of unemployment amongst the youths of the kingdom through his wealth of experience. Areyinka wrote further that the monarch is expected to cement the relationship of the kingdom with the state government as well as the federal government in order to attract developmental projects as well as ensure the completion of abandoned projects in the area. For instance, the case of the abandoned Koko-Ogheye-Epe-Lagos dual carriageway, which was started in 1955 and re-awarded in 2010 to Lavant Construction Company. The dual carriageway was conceived in 1955 through the late Festus Okotie-Eboh, who was Nigeria’s Federal Commissioner of Finance. Upon completion, the project will cut the travelling time from the area to Lagos by over three hours.

 

There is a good omen as a new Olu ascends the throne of his forefathers. Recently, the Federal Executive Council approved contracts for the rehabilitation of Warri and Kaduna refineries at a cost of $1.4 billion. The breakdown shows that $897 million is earmarked for the Warri refinery and $586 million for Kaduna refinery. Nigeria has four refineries – including two in Port Harcourt.

 

Tourism Will Improve Under Emiko

At Ife, Emiko reiterated the dream of his father in tourism. In other words, with the ideal set by his father, the 19th Olu of Warri, on tourism, the new Olu knows exactly what he wants to do. “My father always reiterated to me while growing up, that even though we belonged to a Monarchy, Royalty and Nobility in itself springs from the soul, not from blood. He challenged me to look deep within to find a way to use what I had, my culture, my heritage, my identity, to kindle a newfound sense of pride, nostalgia, as well as a sense of belonging and inspiration, which would spread like wildfire throughout this great nation.

 

“He was adamant that when we are reminded of our great and glorious past, it will give us the drive to move beyond our current state as a nation and go forward with determination to fulfil our enormous potential. He was equally certain that the result of this enlightenment would extend beyond our shores, further opening the matrix of Nigerian tourism, thereby creating a greater avenue for a plethora of international partnerships for untold development.”

 

With his wide world-view, the new Olu is aware that many travel to Athens in Greece to see tourist sites like the Acropolis, the ancient citadel at Athens, containing the Parthenon and other notable buildings, mostly dating from the 5th century BC; Egypt, for the Pyramids and Rome to see St Peter’s Basilica and The Last Supper, a late 15th-century mural painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. They all fall over one another to view the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Michelangelo’s sculpture of Moses. In Paris, the Notre Dame Cathedral is so popular as a tourist site that Victor Hugo used it as a setting of his novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Turkey, though an Islamic nation, has the sites of the seven churches in Asia, mentioned in the Bible’s book of Revelations. The Hagia Sophia Mosque, Istanbul was a originally a church built in AD 537, during the reign of Justinian. However, minarets were added as it was converted to a mosque in the 15th–16th centuries by the Ottoman Empire. In Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon, tourist sites abound. In India, tourists flock to such places as the Taj Mahal and the Golden Temple of Amritsar.

 

There is also Mesoamerica. It is a historical region and cultural area in North America that, according to archaeological experts, extends from approximately central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica. “Within this region, pre-Columbian societies flourished for more than 1,000 years before the Spanish colonization of the Americas.” People travel to those places to watch the pyramids and ruins of ancient temples and palaces.

 

Abraka beach, Effurun Garden, Warri Kingdom Royal Cemetery, Nana Living History Museum and others, can be popularised. The route taken by Prince Ginuwa from Benin (Ugharegin to Efurokpe, Amatu and Oruselemo Ijala), where he crossed Ugbaregin water by the help of Umale Okun, even as the enemies pursued him like Moses and the Hebrews, the first churches built by the early Olus, when the Portuguese evangelized in the land, the traditional shrines, and others can become great tourist sites. Not only these, Itsekiri cuisine and the boat regatta can become international competitions the way mountain climbing is in Idanre in Ondo State and Argungu fishing festival is to Kebbi and Osun Osogbo in Osun.

 

The Olu submitted further: “I strongly hope you will join me in being a part of my father’s dream of rebranding Nigeria not just to the international community, but more importantly to Nigerians themselves, as a people of culture and Noble Heritage. I know much has been said about the enormous potential Nigeria could gain from tourism and culture, but it all seems to be merely head knowledge, and not a heart knowledge of the potential. As a custodian of a great culture, my father had both a head and heart knowledge of this truth.

 

“In our nation, customs and traditions are largely passed down through intangible means, through stories, skills, tradition. These traditions, which our lives draw from, are fluid and intermingle with modern circumstances and influences. However, the ferocity of modernization means memory and tradition can be so easily eroded; things ‘naturally’ evolve and sometimes disappear before we know it. Sometimes, as we saw recently in Italy, which pertained directly to Ile-Ife culture and heritage, foreigners try to pervert, corrupt and sometimes hijack our culture and tradition. And it’s really sad to see the gains foreigners make from our art, our culture, our heritage, while we sit back not being able to replicate the same. It is one thing for foreigners to exploit our mineral resources, it’s completely another thing that they try to exploit our identity, culture and heritage. This was one of the things my father firmly stood for, and it’s a passion that I have proudly inherited from him, and will continue to carry on with the same level of pride and dignity with you all here helping me and by His grace… Palaces are not meant to be for just the present, but rather for generations to come. Palaces are meant to inspire people and inspire life while remaining true to their culture and their heritage.”

 

History of Iwerre (Warri) Kingdom

 

The first Olu and progenitor of the Warri Kingdom, Prince Ginuwa was the eldest son of the fourteenth Oba of Benin – Oba Oluwa (1473 -1480A.D.), who was also the heir apparent to the great throne of Benin Kingdom. This Prince was well loved by his father, but the Benin chiefs hated him because they claimed that he was too arrogant. They then felt that It might be bad for the Kingdom if he was allowed to reign after his father. Worse still, the Oba himself was hated because the Benins thought he was too ostentatious, a disposition that was bleeding the Kingdom’s kitty. Put differently, father and son had lost face! For that reason, the people planned to murder the heir apparent, so that he couldn’t reign after the father joined his ancestors.

 

The Oba got wind of this through the grapevine of loyalists, favour seekers or plain lickspittles and devised a stratagem. He knew, according to historians, that the “only area where Prince Ginuwa and his kingdom would be safe after his demise was by the sea side as the mere sight of the sea would scare an average Benin man…”

 

The Oba held a meeting with his staunch loyalists and councillors, 70 in number. The Oba assembled all his chiefs and demanded from them, their first sons, to accompany Ginuwa to the river to perform the rites desirable to the goddess of the river (Olokun). They all complied immediately and made their eldest sons, (70 in all) available on the appointed day of departure. Except for the Oba, the medicine man and the palace attendant who hatched the escape plan, the chiefs did not know that Ginuwa and his retinue would not return to Benin. The chiefs were made to believe that they were going to make a sacrifice the way Moses told Pharaoh, “Let my people go…” so that they could hold sacrifices in the wilderness. However, the chiefs who surrendered the children for the mission realized that they had been hoodwinked by the Oba. They, like Paharoha’s army, were in hot pursuit of the escapees who had reached Ugbaregin waterside. There was low tide and this did not allow Ginuwa and his men to move fast on boats. Through divination, they consulted Umale Okun who, according to legend, increased the water level “to float their royal canoes.” God used Moses to part the Red Sea so that the Hebrews could cross, Itsekiri legend has it that Umale Okun increased the tide for the king’s party to cross the river and escape to safety…

 

The chiefs who donated their children would not let go. As Ginuwa journeyed through Ugharegin to Efurokpe, Amatu and Oruselemo where Ginuwa was reported to have got married to an Ijaw lady, Derumo, before he finally arrived at a virgin land which was named Ijala, the soldiers were after them. They sailed up the Forcados river and detoured into Warri River. Before his arrival at Ijala, he had already got two male children, Princes Ijijen and lrame.

 

It was in this settlement that Warri people first had contact with the Portugues. Some women went fishing and saw a ship with white-skinned crew. The women mistook the sailors for ghosts and they referred to their ship as “oko egungun” (ghosts’ boat). Ginuwa consulted the oracle, which told them to pacify the “ghosts” with bananas. These were loaded into small boats which the white men accepted and, in appreciation, gave them provisions, like rum, garments, tobacco and others. The Portuguese introduced cassava to the people and taught them how to plant and process it. They introduced musical instruments, muscovite ducks (kpakpayeke) and turkey (tolotolo). The friendship made the White men establish trading stations at Warri and Ugborodo, where slaves, spices and other goods like elephant tusks were exported.

 

However, with the information about the planned invasion by soldiers sent by the chiefs who lost their sons, Ginuwa and his men decided to leave Ijala. However, like Moses who could not make it to the Promised Land but died on Mount Nebo, Ginuwa died and, like Joshua, his son, Prince Ijijen, continued the journey. Hence, all the demised Olus have been buried at Ijala from 1500A.D to date.

 

Movement from Ijala to Ode-Itsekiri

Ginuwa’s eldest son, Prince Ijijen, immediately took up the royal command as was and still the practice in Benin Kingdom where primogeniture thrives, and all honour due to him was accordingly given. The planned movement from Ijala was, therefore, executed by Prince Ijijen with the aid of an Idibie (medicine man or a diviner) who threw a magical spear (Egan or Etsoro) that was believed to have landed at a location called Okotomu, now Ode-itsekiri (Big Warri).

The tracing of that spear by Prince Ijijen and his people, with the help of the Idibie piloting, finally brought them to the spear’s location. It was here they met a group of people believed to have migrated from the South West region of the Yoruba territory who are now the bulk of the Iwere people (Oma-jaja). The present site of the Warri Kingdom Royal Cemetery is the original place of abode of Olu Ginuwa I. After the movement of all the entourage to Ode – Itsekiri (Big Warri) the area remained uninhabited and thus, became a royal grove reserved solely.

 

As narrated above, Ginuwa, a prince of Benin founded the Iwerre (Warri) Kingdom about 1480. In the 15th century, Warri was visited by Portuguese missionaries. At the beginning of the 17th century, historians said a son of the reigning Olu was sent to Portugal and returned with a Portuguese wife. “Their son Antonio Domingo was Olu of Warri in the 1640s. Olu Erejuwa, who reigned from about 1720 to 1800, expanded Warri politically and commercially, using the Portuguese to further Warri’s independence of Benin and to establish control over a wider area.

Later Warri served as the base for Portuguese and Dutch slave traders. Warri became a more important port city during the late 19th century, when it became a centre for the palm oil trade and other major items such as rubber, palm products, cocoa, groundnuts, hides, and skins. Warri was established as a provincial headquarters by the British in the early 20th century. In May 1952 the government of Western Nigeria changed the title of the Itsekiri ruler from the Olu of Itsekiri to the Olu of Warri, at the request of the Itsekiri. The Ijaw, Urhobo and other people of the community objected to the change since they felt the new title implied that the Olu was the ruler of Warri, not just of the Itsekiri.

 

In 1997, The Federal Government under General Sani Abacha created a Warri South-West Local Government Council, with headquarters at Ogbe-Ijoh, in the Ijaw area of Warri.

 

Olus that Have Ruled Warri

  • Olu Ginuwa ruled from 1480 to 1510. He was the eldest son of Oba Olua, the 14th Oba of Benin (1473–1480) and heir apparent to the throne until he migrated from Benin to Warri, where he was later crowned.
  • Olu Ijijen was the king from 1510 to 1524. He succeeded his father. He was the first King to reach Ode-Itsekiri (Big Warri) as his father settled down at Ijala community which became the burial place for all future Olu’s.
  • Olu Irame was on the throne from 1525 to 1549. He succeeded his brother. It is stated that he banished the three gods (Ibirikimo, Otueke, and Ike) and their worshipers from Ode-Itsekiri-Olu (Big Warri) because of their incessant noise-making”. The gods and their worshipers moved to Orugbo which is a community about 3 km from Ode-Itsekiri-Olu.
  • Olu Ojoluwa, 1550-1569. He succeeded his father. During his reign, he commenced the process of integration of the Ekpen’s/Ekpenede, descendants of Okere with the local population in the kingdom
  • Olu Esigie, 1570-1596. He succeeded his father. Under him, Portuguese commerce and Christianity blossomed, though he stuck to his religion. He allowed his son (Eymasan Atorongboye) to be baptized as Sebastian. The young Prince was sent to Angola to acquire Western education. The first “Kapila” (Chapel) was built under his reign in Ode-Itsekiri, called “Gudade de Santo Agostino” or City of Saint Augistine.
  • Olu Atorongboye (Sebastian), 1597-1624. He succeeded his father. He was born Prince Eyomasan. He was the first Catholic Olu, in fact, every king after him until 1848 was so. He had a strong tie with King Philip II of Spain, who ruled Portugal at the time. This relation led to him sending his son to study in Coimbra, Portugal from 1600 to 1611. He and all future kings were awarded the title of Dom (D.)
  • Olu Atuwatse 1 (Don Domingos), 1625-1643. He was initially homeschooled by his father and the Bishop in Ode-Itsekiri, which resulted in him being able to read and write in Portuguese. He was later educated in Coimbra, Portugal from 1600 to 1611. He returned as a graduate, making him the first graduate in Sub Saharan Africa. Olu Dom Domingos was the first to marry a noble Portuguese lady, that came with him in 1611. He worked against many superstitions. Under him, practices like female circumcision were abandoned.
  • Olu Oyenakpagha (D.Anthonio Domingos Obanigheren), 1643-1653. He succeeded his father. On ascension to the throne he was named Obanighenren which translates to “Prince/King with the golden skin”. He wrote a letter to Pope Clement X in 1652 which was delivered to the Pope successfully. He was educated at home and at an institute in Angola. Like his father, he married a Portuguese lady.
  • D. Matias Omoluyiri, 1653-1673. This son Don Domingos (Atunwatse) had with an Itsekiri lady succeeded his brother, Oyenapagha in 1653. It was also the way Irame succeeded his brother, Ijijen. To strengthen Christianity in the kingdom, the Portuguese brought him a white lady to marry. The wedding was grand!
  • Olu Abejoye (aka Mathias), 1673-1700. He was of mixed race. Under him, Christianity also expanded.
  • Olu Akenjoye, 1701 -1708. He succeeded his father. As a prince he was known as Dom Ludivico Domingo.
  • Olu Omagboye, baptized Agostino Sebastian Octobia, 1709-1730. He succeeded his father.
  • Oke Akengboye, 1730-1734. He also succeeded his father. He did a lot to expand Christianity. He wrote a letter to the king of Portugal to send to Itsekiriland more missionaries and effigies of Christian saints.
  • D. Manuel Atogbuwa, 1734-1760. This 14th Olu succeeded his father. He was determined to revive African traditional religion. Under him, Christianity was abandoned.
  • Olu Sebastino Octobia Erejuwa I, 1760-1795. 15th Olu. He succeeded his father. He tried to restore Christianity.
  • Olu Akengbuwa (D. Jao Eyeolusa), 1795-14 June 1848. 16th Olu. He succeeded his father. He was, for a while, the last ruling king, 14 June 1848 -7 February 1936. After the death of Olu Dom Eyeolusan João Akengbuwa there was a dynastic crisis following the death of all the potential successors which was followed by a period of political Interregnum. His son Prince Oritsemone left Ode-Itsekiri during the period of the crisis to form the Usele Community. Queen Iye Idolorusan ruled the kingdom for a time in the nineteenth century, but seemed to have never been formally designated a monarch. Governors were appointed, in a plutocratic system to rule the land. They were Diare, 1851 to 1870; Chanomi, Olomu, Nana, Nore Numa (in acting capacity when Nana was banished because of the trade dispute with Europeans). He was called Paramount Chief. He died 1932.
  • Olu Ginuwa II, 7 February 1936-8 January 1949. 17th Olu. The post-interregnum renaissance period was kicked off by him. He was a Nigerian traditional titleholder and paramount leader of the Itsekiri. He was born Emiko Ikengbuwa. He succeeded his grandfather Olu Akengbuwa as Olu of Warri after an interregnum that lasted 88 years when Warri’s political leadership was dominated by merchant princes.
  • Olu Erejuwa II, 1951-1986. He was the 18th Olu. He succeeded his father. He attended a CMS missionary school at Ogbesse, thereafter he did business with United African Company rising to become the president of a provincial cooperative. As Olu of Warri, he was appointed regional Minister without portfolio and President of the Warri Divisional Traditional Council.
  • Olu Atuwatse II (Godwin Toritseju Emiko, 2 May 1987- 5 September 2015 – 19th Olu. He was born Godwin Toritseju Emiko. He succeeded his father. He was a lawyer by profession and was a recipient of the Commander of the Niger (CON) award from the Nigerian Government. Atuwatse II died in a hospital in Lagos in early September 2015. He was 70 years old.
  • Ikenwoli Godfrey Emiko, 12 December 2015-21 December 2020. Olu Ikenwoli Godfrey Emiko was born to Olu Erejuwa II and Olori Eyinagboluwade Emiko. He succeeded his elder brother and was married to Olori Mary Emiko. They had three children.

 

With the installation of the a Olu Saturday 21 August 2021, it is truly a new dawn in the ancient Iwerre (Warri) Kingdom.