A MAJOR CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS
It is surprising that after this period of collapse of Portuguese influence in Warri, there came to the throne a King with a Portuguese name. He had been baptized and had taken the names SEBASTIAN MANUEL OTOBIA, although the ITSEKIRI call him OLU EREJUWA I. This suggests two things:
Firstly, that he was not the Son of OLU AKENGBOYE;
Secondly, it suggests that Portuguese from Brazil were now active in Warri.
The mean explanation we can give for this was that the Portuguese may have helped EREJUWA during the succession dispute following the death of OLU ATOGBUWA.
*During this conflict, IYATSERE EGHAREGBEMI, an important War Lord was against the candidature of EREJUWA and supported a rival candidate.
We have already discussed the constitutional functions of the IYATSERE in the Warri Constitution. As Chief Executive and Head of the Warri Army, he was an important Chief. Apart from this, he was the only Chief of OGBE which is the Quarter inhabited by the Royals.
Therefore, his opinion must have been very weighty in the choice of a successor to the throne.
IYATSERE EGHAREGBEMI was a wealthy man and very influential. OLU EREJUWA did not like him, but he could not remove him since he felt that he was not strong enough to take action against so prominent a Chief.
He allowed him to remain in office until he had mustered enough force to take effective action.
Clever and crafty, IYATSERE EGHAREGBEMI always knew what action to take during military operations. He had enemies at court who were always prepared to see him fall.
When there was a war against the neighbouring States, he only went when the Warri Forces had been defeated twice.
The traditional story was that at the end of the operations, he seemed to gain some success where others had failed.
It was soon known that he never went to fight, but made commercial treaties with the enemy and thus got them to lay down their arms. Such successes brought envy because they increased the IYATSERE’s commercial power.
They went and told the OLU the IYATSERE’s secret means of finishing his wars. The OLU who himself had his own axe to grind with the Chief took the opportunity to prepare a showdown. IYATSERE EGHAREGBEMI was informed of the conspiracy against him and made good his escape. He settled at OLOGBO where he placed himself under the protection of the OBA of Benin. His place was filled by a loyal supporter of the OLU, the powerful and warlike IYATSERE OKORODUDU.
END OF PART ONE