By Fred Akpewe
A high powered Police delegation led by Deputy Inspector General of polic (DIG) Egbunike Joseph visited the Idumuje-Ugboko community in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State on Friday, September 24, 2021 to proffer a lasting solution to the five years old community feud.
Its mission was also to interact with the victims of the 2017 Idumuje-Ugboko crisis as well as the assailants.
On ground to welcome the visiting DIG and his team were the Obi designate of Idumuje Ugboko, HRM Obi Solomon Eziokwubundu Nwabuokei Nwoko, the Iyase (Traditional Prime Minister of Idumuje Ugboko), Chief Christopher Ogwu and a former President-General of the community/documentary expert, Prince Walters Eziashi.
In the course of interacting with the victims of the 2017 Idumuje Ugboko crisis, Prince Walters Eziashi presented to the DIG and his team a vivid account of the Idumuje Ugboko crisis which started in 2015 but took a violent turn after the death of the immediate past monarch, HRM Obi Albert Nwoko in 2017. The presentation included the land acquisition processes by LINAS International Ltd, for the Stars University and Golf Course projects which involved ceding of 40% equity shares for the community.
On the kingship issue, Prince Walters Eziashi intimated the visiting police team that Aniocha North Traditional Rulers Committee had transmitted letters to the Delta State Government endorsing Prince Solomon Eziokwubundu Nwabuokei Nwoko as the Obi designate of Idumuje Ugboko and requesting government to recognize and present a staff of office to him.
The endorsement of Obi Solomon by the traditional rulers committee according to Prince Walters Eziashi followed due process in recognition of the existing rule of primogeniture and respect for the choice of the Umu-Nwoko family, King makers, Elders and Chiefs of Idumuje Ugboko Kingdom. The implication of this is that the Obi designate is the rightful heir to the throne after the demise of HRM Obi Albert Nwoko III. It follows that Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko was never King of Idumuje Ugboko.
The highlights of the interactive visit was the presentation by Prince Walters Eziashi to the visiting DIG and his team a booklet titled “A COMPENDIUM OF THE IDUMUJE UGBOKO LAND ACQUISITION CRISIS.”
Eziashi also presented to the DIG team copies of newspaper publications and other correspondences relating to the Idumuje Ugboko crisis, including the perspective of the Human Rights Report on the Idumuje Ugboko crisis and the comprehensive account of the eight failed peaceful settlements by HRM Charles Anyasi, the Obi of Idumuje-unor. These documents were presented to aid the DIG and his visiting team on their assessment of facts on the ground.
The DIG who was accompanied by the CP homicide section, Force CID Abuja later gave his officers – Area commander and the DPO Issele-uku Division a charge to do their findings and make urgent recommendations to him appropriately with a view to finding a lasting solution to the Idumuje Ugboko crisis.
The DIG also asked his officers to make sure that no one in Idumuje Ugboko is deprived of his or her freedom of Association as according to law every citizen is entitled to freedom of movement and association without fear of molestation. The DIG directed the arrest of anyone obstructing free movement and association in the community.
Six of the victims, namely: Chief Christopher Ogwu, who is also the Iyase of the community, the wife of the slain victim, Mrs. Kennedy Iloh, Peter Bamah, Gladys Koguonye, Nelson Iloh, son of the slain victim, and Bennett Okoh narrated how assailants, acting on the instruction of Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko invaded their houses, destroying property, and beating them up for no other reason than that they supported a university and golf course project in the town. Chief Ogwu (the traditional Prime Minister) gave a terrifying account of how assailants sent by Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko beat him up mercilessly, destroyed and vandalized his cars.
The beating up till today has rendered him incapacitated in spite of having visited several hospitals for remedy. Mrs. Kennedy also narrated how she witnessed her late husband being beaten, dragged on the ground to the Palace of Idumuje-Ugboko on the instruction of Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko. She stated that her husband later died as a result of injuries and pains he sustained from the hands of his assailants.
One common thread that ran through the testimonies of the victims was the common names that resonated as their alleged assailants in 2017. They are:
(1) Ikechukwu Nnaemaka (2) Emeka Oyibundu (3) Light Agiliga Onwochie (4) Uwadiegwu Nwoko (5) Nwabu Ndudi (6) Okey Fejoku and (7) Aikhomo (Ashioma Omezi) (8) Raymond Omesiete (9) Aniemeke Akaba (10) Chiejume.
Another recurrent narrative by the 2017 victims of the Idumuje-Ugboko crises was that they all still undergo ostracism which forbids them to relate with their families and friends as they alleged that Chukwunonso’s thugs continue to intimidate them in the town.
They also alleged that they cannot move freely in the town as freeborn as their fundamental human rights to association and free speech have been curtailed. A low point of the interactive/peace settlement visit by the DIG and his team was that the assailants in the 2017 community crisis could not present a cogent defence for their atrocities.
Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko in his defence before the visiting DIG and his team agreed that he banished some chiefs from the Kingdom but that he had lifted the ban on their banishment.
This statement is laughable because, he is not an emperor that can banish people the way he likes, neither does he have power of life and death over people.
For all we know, Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko is an impostor to the throne of Idumuje-Ugboko and has never been king neither is he from the Umu-Nwoko Royal family.
Of course everyone knows that he is of the Omorhusi lineage that has now been outlawed in the Idumuje-Ugboko historical line of primogeniture. If truly he was an Obi, how come he unleashed so much terror on his community in 2017, maiming, killing and destroying people’s property? If he was truly an Obi, why is he being tried alongside with his cohorts on terrorism and murder charges?
Prince Nonso Nwoko, in a statement of defence in suit no. HC1/38/2017, paragraph 8 even deposed that there is only one royal family in Idumuje-Ugboko and that is the Umu-Nwoko royal family. It is, therefore, curious why Prince Chukwunonso would go back and forth on a simple matter.
One significant fallout of the meetings with the visiting DIG and his team, is the clarification that those facing trial are not land owners. The defendants in the on-going trials were simply those who were hired by Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko to attack, destroy and kill people in Idumuje-Ugboko.
It had nothing whatsoever to do with land ownership especially as most of the thugs were mercenaries imported from Anambra State. We recall vividly that some community folks including the Iyase and the Odogwu were severely beaten up and dragged to the palace where they were subjected to the most inhuman treatment at the pleasure of Prince Chukwunonso and company.
Apart from the maiming of people, destruction of properties and arson, two people, Kennedy Iloh and Cyprian Kumiolu were killed. The only crime committed by these victims was that they dared to support the university project in the town. The 2017 Idumuje-Ugboko mayhem has already been internationalised and has become a thesis subject for historians and scholars.
The victims of the Idumuje-Ugboko crisis numbering about 29 who were present on the occasion of the visit of the DIG and his team gave conditions that must be met before they can withdraw their suits from the court and forgive their assailants in the 2017 Idumuje-Ugboko mayhem. The conditions are:
(1) That the assailants must admit their guilt.
(2) The assailants must publicly apologise for their crimes.
(3) The assailants must agree to pay commensurate compensation to the victims who had suffered varying degrees of losses, emotional trauma and physical bruises.
(4) The assailants must show the victims of the crisis and the whole town where the remains of the slain Benue born Okada rider, Cyprian Kumiolu was buried to enable the family give him a decent burial.
It must be recalled that the assailants in the 2017 Idumuje-Ugboko crisis are undergoing trial in different courts in Asaba and Abuja for murder and terrorism respectively. The trials are to resume soon in Asaba and Abuja in a week’s time approximately.
DIG Egbunike Joseph appealed for calm, promising that peace would soon return to the crisis torn Idumuje-Ugboko community.
- Fred Akpewe is Press Secretary to the Obi-Designate of Idumuje-Ugboko, HRM, Solomon Eziokwubundu Nwabuokei Nwoko