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Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion is the Esama of the Benin Kingdom in Nigeria. The title Esama traditionally means the "Son of the people", with responsibilities including assisting the poor in medial, monetary and private venture forms. He was suspended from participating in palace activities in 2008.
It is on record that the Oba of Benin did not declare Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion as an enemy as it was widely circulated. On the 13th of June, 2012 a palace press release informed the general public that the suspension placed on Chief G.O. Igbinedion had been lifted. This was an affirmation that Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion is still the Esama of Benin Kingdom.
The Esama of Benin's business empire includes an international property portfolio and a private TV and radio station. He owns a private bank, oil refinery, diamond, gold, marble mines over Africa, a private university (Igbinedion University, the first private university in Nigeria) and a large number of hotels. He previously owned the now-defunct private airline, Okada Air, of over 40 aircraft (planes and helicopters). He has built numerous churches including a Grand Catholic Cathedral, and has set up and owns a number of private hospitals across Nigeria.
One of the Esama's sons, Lucky, was a two-term Local Government Chairman and two-term Governor of Edo State, another, Charles, was a Local Government Chairman and one time Edo State Commissioner of Education, while yet another, Peter, was the Managing Director of Nigerian Aviation Authority.Esama's daughter, Omosede is in the House of Representatives for Edo State.
- "Gabriel Igbinedion (Lucky's father) Removed as Bini Chief - declared Enemy of the Oba". Nigerian Muse. 30 January 2008. Retrieved 20 July 2009.
- Benin Traditional Council (June 13, 2012). Palace press release, reference no: BTC.A66/VOL.V/171