Chapter Sixteen of Samuel Erivwo’s Biography of Agori Iwe

Urhobo Historical Society

Sam U. Erivwo, Ph.D.
Originally Published in 1998 
Reproduced in URHOBO WAADO by kind permission of Professor Sam U. Erivwo


The Benin Diocese set up a planning Committee at a session of the Diocesan Synod held at Oleh in June 1971. The business of the Committee, Chairmanned by the Ven. S.O. Akinluyi, was to deliberate on the future of the Diocese. After several meetings the Committee recommended in the first instance that Warri Diocese be carved out of the Benin Diocese. This recommendation encourage those from Asaba Archdeaconry to also ask for a Diocese of their own. The recommendation by the Akinluyi Committee that Warri and Asaba Dioceses be carved out of the Benin Dioceses was presented to the Diocesan, following which formal applications for the proposed new Dioceses came to a session of the Synod held in St. Matthew’s Cathedral Benin City in 1975.

After the motions to create the three Dioceses from the old Benin Diocese had been passed they were in that same year presented by the Diocesan to the provincial Synod of the Province of West Africa which met in Lagos University Campus in 1975. The provincial Synod also passed the motion and Warri and Asaba Dioceses were created in 1977, although following a protracted controversy over who should be the bishop of Warri Diocese, that Diocese could not be inaugurated until 1980.

With the retirement of Agori Iwe the Venerable J.W.I. Idahosa, O.F.R. was elected and consecrated Bishop of Benin Diocese on 6th August 1977 in succession to Agori Iwe. At that same service, Venerable R.N.C. Nwosu was consecrated for Asaba Diocese, while the Very Rev. T.I. Akintayo, Provost of Ibadan Diocese was consecrated for Warri Diocese.


The Warri Diocese people rejected bishop Akintayo, on the grounds that he was not an indigene of the Diocese, and took court action to prevent his enthronement as Bishop of Warri Diocese. The crisis was protracted for a long time, and the people of the area took pains to make their objection known to the hole Anglican Communion, even if they knew that by the nature of the autonomy of each Province, there was very little the rest of the Communion could do to intervene in the affairs of an autonomous Province.

The situation became complicated especially when in his retirement and old age, the retired Bishop of Benin Diocese was approached to consecrate John O. Dafiewhare, who was his original choice of successor, through unaccepted to the Province of West Africa at the time. After the consecration of Rev. Canon John O. Dafiewhare by the Rt. Rev. Agori Iwe, the House of Bishops in Nigeria drew the attention of the Fourth Anglican Consultative Council (A.C.C.) held in Canada in May 1979 to it. The Council observed as follows:

“The Anglican Consultative Council has learned with regret that the difficulties over the creation of the proposed Diocese of Warri, including, the appointment of a Bishop have not been resolved. They have in fact been further complicated by the alleged action of a retired Bishop of Benin in alone laying hands on a priest, purporting to consecrate him Bishop of the proposed Diocese. The Council would point out that the general and accepted pattern of the consecration of Bishops in the Anglican Communion is to have a minimum of three Bishops acting collectively on the basis of canonical authority, to conduct the consecration. It is, therefore, the view of the Council that the consecration of a priest by a Bishop acting alone and without canonical authority, is irregular and unacceptable” (Report of the Fourth Meeting of the A.C.C., London, Ontario, Canada, May 1979, p. 56).

To end the Warri crisis, the Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Rev. T.O. Olufosoye regularised the action of Agori Iwe, by further consecrating J.O. Dafiewhare on the Feast of the conversion of St. Paul, 25th January 1980, and inaugurated Warri Diocese.

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