By Zik Zulu Okafor
If you know Hon. Prince Ned Nwoko, then one of the first things you are likely to notice is that he is incredibly calm and extremely meticulous.
Like the Lawyer that he is, he puts practically every thought, every intention on the scale of law before he makes a decision. And he is never in a hurry when he wants to subject anything he is doing to due process.
The quest to acquire land for his STARS University and a Golf Course called for these idiosyncrasies to come aglow. And indeed they came handy.
And so one of the very first persons that he called on phone to inform of his plan for a proposed university to be sited on the rustic hills of Idumuje-Ugboko was his cousin, Prince Chukwunonso Justin Nwoko the first son of the king.
Nonso, as he is called, gave his unreserved approval and blessing. He even went further to advise Ned to visit the Owu farmers who then were cultivating the area mapped out by the village for developmental projects such as the university.
Ned obeyed his cousin described as very unpredictable. But Ned would embark on detailed consultations before he finally commenced the quest to acquire the land. He is a man of uncommon patience, a lawyer by birth and by inclination. So, he took on the rigorous, long but absolutely legitimate and reassuring process.
After the approval of the project by the entire community, Honourable Prince Ned met with the farmers farming on the land in groups, then interacted individually with them. Having monetized their farms, he paid each farmer a compensation not only enough to resettle elsewhere but to be able to comfortably continue his calling.
But one old man would not accept the monetary offer. “You can have my own land free of charge”, the old man said. “Let it be my little contribution to your school. You are bringing a good thing to our land. May your university bring us glory. May it offer opportunities to our children to get good education at affordable cost. I heard you paid school fees for some poor children in this our neglected village to go to school. God is not sleeping. He will reward you”, he concluded, his voice laden with emotion.
Ned would later pay a visit to this old man, whose words to him were an emblem of honour and inspiration. Moved by the kind of house the old man lived, he built a brand new house for him. He would relate all these experiences to his dear cousin, Nonso, a man he refers to always as his good cousin.
“It was not surprising that he used to call him his good cousin. They were indeed good and sweet cousins”, a man named Michael Chukwuka enthused. “Ned loved Nonso and I thought Nonso loved him too because he benefitted immensely from Ned’s large heart. It is sad that he is opposing Ned everywhere now because he is being misled by some few misguided people in this village.
People like Dr Gabriel Ogbechie who can’t even sleep in their houses in Ugboko because of their sins. I dont know how he became a Doctor that he now calls himself. He has only a first degree. I read what he wrote in Vanguard, presenting himself as the saint of Idumuje-Ugboko.
I was so angry and wished I could see him face to face to tell him he is a liar. I will tell him to go to that good man called Ned and apologise for his sins. But God will pay all of them one by one. He knows deep inside his heart that he owes Prince Ned an apology.
Some day, he will go to his house, confess his sins and tender an unreserved apology to him because he would have realised that he ganged up against an innocent man”, he said with a sardonic smile. “How could Nonso be the one fighting his brother over land that his late father and the entire village approved before he , Nonso, started fighting to be recognized as king”, Michael quipped.
Indeed Princes Nonso and Ned are of the Royal Nwoko family of Idumuje-Ugboko, a serene picturesque village in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta state.
That a chasm seems to exist between them today provokes painful questions.
How is it that the very cousin he first mooted his plan to build a university is now fiercely opposed to the plan and demanding some conditions under which he could give approval.
Knowing that the acquisition of the land for this tertiary institution passed through a meticulous, rigorous due process before it was approved and there are documents to buttress this assertion, one cannot but wonder what Prince Nonso’s grouse really is.
A close confidant of Prince Nonso, in the palace stated that “Prince Nonso’s problem with Ned started the very day Ned went to the Iyese, the traditional Prime Minister of our village and other high ranking chiefs to tell them about his plan to build a university. Nonso was so angry that he marched to our eldest uncle to speak with him. Our uncle however told him that “Ned was trying to follow our traditional way of doing it. That this tradition is over 100 years and it was the right thing to do. That made Nonso even more angry and he stormed out of the house saying our uncle was talking nonsense.
You can imagine. I know very well that he expected Ned to leave him to handle the entire process. That way he could do some business because he wasn’t really earning money at that time and I say this with a lot of respect and without any attempt at all to ridicule him. It is the obvious truth. But today I can tell you I see blackmail somewhere”, he stated.
Prince Nonso vowed there and then that Ned would not build that university while he , Nonso, lives, the source revealed.
Based on documents available to this writer, there is no doubting the hard fact that Prince Ned took pain to ensure due process. Not only did the King Albert Nwoko III, his Council and the four federating villages’ representatives give approval, the kingdom’s very sophisticated development union, Idumuje-Ugboko Development Union, IUDU, also gave its nod after a strenuous interrogation of Ned on his proposed project. Indeed, the union in a letter dated November 23, 2015, directed to the Executive Chairman, Aniocha North Local Government Area, and signed by the President General, Bennet Odor, Engr Emma Okoh, the Secretary-General and Barr J.O Nwoye, Legal Adviser, the IUDU urged the Chairman to give Ned every support.
In their words, “The National Executive Committee of the Idumuje-Ugboko Development Union is strongly in support of the university project as it will bring unfathomable development to our town, our Local Government Area and the state at large. It is on this premise that we humbly urge the local government council to give all the assistance that may be necessary for the actualisation and smooth take off of the project.”
At the time of writing this letter, the land for the educational project had been allocated, the king was alive and Prince Nonso had no record of any severe illness at this time for one to assume he was unaware of this cardinal development.
Indeed, he was visibly present at the IUDU historic meeting. With no bickering or dissent of any hue to the project, the Council Chairman issued to Linas International Ltd and Prince Ned Nwoko a Certificate of Customary Right of Occupancy on February 16, 2016 and July 20, 2016.
It is against this background that this writer was quite staggered by the publication in Vanguard on May 21, 2020 by an otherwise respected businessman and a scion of Idumuje-Ugboko, Dr Gabriel Ogbechie.
In the article titled ” The Quest for Peace in Idumuje-Ugboko: My Perspectives”, the articulate business magnate made assertions that quietly provoke embarassing questions.
To be clear, the tone of his long epistle was peaceful in crystal terms. However, the palpable critical issues he glossed over or treated with levity and the underlying essential themes he totally ignored made his breezy, seemingly matter-of-fact piece sadly jaundiced and provocative.
And to so explicitly present Prince Ned as the antagonist and the obstruction to the amicable resolution of the crisis in their homey village without a single documented evidence to buttress it, is not only acutely unfair, it sadly represents a worrisome example of a gall, a distorted and soured judgement in a blood fued and such piece as his, could easily accentuate enmity. In concise terms, Dr Ogbechie didn’t write like an impartial arbiter that he seems set out to be, despite his appeal for peace without recourse to justice. Indeed he seems to have passed his judgement and ‘convicted’ Ned long before he decided to write.
Let us take some little parts of his perspectives in his hypothesis, to illuminate this subtle biases and mute indifference to salient sub-plots in this sizzling fued of the royalty in Idumuje-Ugboko.
In one breath he said without any equivocation, “I am in full support of the quest by my brother and friend, Hon. Ned Nwoko, to build a University in Idumuje-Ugboko. I have always supported this project since he first mooted the idea to me”.
Dr Ogbechie in another breath also asserted, ” I am fully in support of our king, the Obi of Idumuje-Ugboko, His Royal Highness, Obi Chukwunomso(sic) Nwoko getting his Staff of Office. The issue at stake is when he shall receive his Staff of office and NOT who shall be the king”, he stated without any ambivalence.
Linking his support for Princes Nonso and Ned, he stated that both interests can and should co-exist. Hon. Ned Nwoko should build his University and HRH, Obi Chukwunomso Nwoko should get his Staff of Office. Advocating for the king to get his Staff of Office does not mean opposition to the construction of the University and vice-versa….”.
The irony here is that Prince Ned has never really interfered in the kingship contest in Idumuje-Ugboko. His only issue with his cousin, Nonso, is Nonso’s endless quests to deprive him of the land that was legitimately allotted to him after due process by the entire people of Idumuje-Ugboko for the building of his university and golf course. So, it is clear that there is a deliberate mischief in trying to link the land for the university and the kingship tussle.
DR OGBECHIE’S CURIOUS OMISSIONS AND SUGGESTIONS THAT CLOG THE WHEEL OF JUSTICE
While Dr Ogbechie affirmed that he fully supports both the University and the Obi getting his Staff of Office, he failed to tell his readers that it was the crisis in Ugboko was nursed , nurtured and triggered by Nonso and ghoulish sponsors that have blinded him from seeing the futility of his fight with his own blood.
This is so because despite the rigorous approval process Prince Ned underwent, his cousin, Nonso woke up one morning and distributed some strange letters all over the town, churches and markets. The letter dated August 12, 2015 and purportedly written and signed by Obi Albert Nwoko III repudiated the approval given to Ned, claiming he did not sign any document to that effect.
It took an audacious Prince Walters Eziashi, a former President-General of IUDU 2OO8-2012, to petition the police demanding an investigation into the veracity of the letter. The police eventually discovered that the signature on the letter was forged. Princes Nonso, Richard Obiajulu Nwoko and Ejimofor Nwoko among others indicted in the petition were charged before the Chief Magistrate Court 1, Asaba in a Suit No. SMC420C/2016.
Is Dr Ogbechie aware of this development ? This question becomes necessary because he presented Nonso as one peaceful figure just quietly waiting for his staff of office and Ned the only obstacle. But Dr Ogbechie is a prominent son of Idumuje-Ugboko and one involved in the peace process even if clearly biased .
So, how could such a serious legal misadventure by Nonso and his ilk pass without his knowledge. One can almost bet that there is nothing that happens at Ugboko that Dr Ogbechie doesn’t hear minutes later, not hours. And one is almost sure that Prince Nonso and Mbanefo Nwoko, his brother must as a duty to a staunch supporter and alleged foremost financier call him to brief him on all major developments. And even seek his advice about their legal quests which he would probably finance as he demonstrated in the presence of Ned.
And of course he couldn’t call the Honourable Prince Ned in all of Prince Nonso’s attempts to stop his plan to build the University. One can only guess that it is simply because Dr Ogbechie had made up his mind who to stand with. Whether justice suffers or not by that decision didn’t matter.
Would Prince Nonso have continued his serial judicial misadventures if Dr Ogbechie had asked him to stop.
Yet, Ned has never dragged Nonso his cousin to any court despite threats against his person and his property in Idumuje-Ugboko. He remains calm despite frivolous petitions by Nonso and Mbanefo his brother and others to the police against him for which he has consistently gone to see the police and left to return home because he remains undoubtedly innocent. He seems completely unmoved by their theatrics because he is infinitely assured that reason and truth will ultimately prevail.
But Nonso was not done with his steely determination to stop the University. His next move?
He dragged the Aniocha North Local Government Council, Ned and Linas International Ltd to court in a Suit No. HCI/2/2016 claiming the process of the land allocation was false.
The case which started in 2016 ended on June 18,2019 at the Agbor High Court. The judge ruled in favour of the defendants, Ned and Linas International Ltd and awarded costs against Nonso and his cohorts.
Prince Chukwunonso Justin Nwoko continued with his tenacious quest to derail a noble cause. This time he made Samson Osakwe the spear head.
Osakwe would file a suit at the Issele-Uku High Court, Delta state, once again, against Ned claiming that the defendant encroached into his land and damaged his property and therefore seeking an order of the court restraining him from carrying out any activity on the land.
However, after pre-hearing on Friday, February 10, 2017, the Claimant, seeing the handwriting on the wall, abandoned the case and disappeared. The Judge consequently struck out the case on April 26, 2018.
The stark failures of Nonso’s judicial adventures is a testament to the granite-cast integrity of the process that approved the land for Honourable Prince Ned’s University and Golf Course projects.
It also casts a huge shadow of doubt on the sincerity of Dr Ogbechie’s suggestion for Ned to abandon the land approved by the entire people of Idumuje-Ugboko kingdom for the one decreed by a controversial Prince Nonso who without a Staff of is not a bonafide king.
With all the court cases that Nonso has dragged his cousin into, you just wonder why a man of Ogbechie’s stature in Idumuje-Ugboko could not come out to say “enough, we need to resolve this issue once and for all’m”. So, it is safe to conclude that it is either a clear case of hidden complicity.
In other words, he was probably waiting to hear that Prince Ned lost one of those cases and then pop some Champagne to celebrate a seemingly tenacious Prince Nonso’s victory.
Unfortunately it has turned out thus far a disastrous misadventure.
So, you are tempted to quietly ask, “with what conscience was Dr Ogbechie writing in Vanguard”.
It is almost easy to conclude, albeit sadly that the gentle business icon, a distinguished and accomplished son of Idumuje-Ugboko failed tragically to give himself an eminent place in history as far as the Ugboko crisis is the issue.
There has been a lot of rumour that Nonso promised to make him the Iyese once he received his Staff of Office. Could this be the reason for Dr Ogbechie’s unbridled drive and investment to actualise this Staff of Office project? Is it worth a blemish that history may never erase?
However, as Prince Nonso continues to lose every case in court, he got more and more desperate and perhaps more resolute to be the king of Idumuje-Ugboko by all means necessary and ultimately to stop his cousin, the very Honourable Prince Ned.
He was clearly being prodded by unseen forces. And it had become crystal clear that with continuous failure in court, diminishing followership and growing and overwhelming support for the University project, Nonso was most likely to resort to self help. The unprecedented terror that engulfed Idumuje-Ugboko between May 18-25, 2017, is allegedly Prince Nonso’s last but unfortunate card.
A WEEK OF MINDLESS TERRORISM IN IDUMUJE-UGBOKO
If you visit Idumuje-Ugboko today, there is a loud cry that you hear from every corner of the village. It is a cry of anguish, of deep injury and harrowing pain.
Their last hope they all say is to get justice in court and let the demented and diabolical terrorists pay for the mayhem they committed in Idumuje-Ugboko their once cool and cloudless community.
The horror, the cause of these groaning voices was the naked and crude terrorism, a bloody havoc wreaked on Idumuje-Ugboko from the night of May 18 to 25, 2017, one week of unprecedented terror and horror.
The terrorists mostly youthful thugs hired from perhaps nowhere but hell invaded Idumuje-Ugboko in the darkest hours of the night. Fully armed with guns, fear-inspiring matchets and dangerous weapons, they first matched to the head of the vigilante group in the village, a man named Peter Bama, an otherwise well respected man.
In a subdued tone he confessed, “let me thank God that I am alive today. I didn’t give myself a chance because they wanted to beat me to death. The only thing they didn’t do was shoot me. But they stripped me naked, beat me black and blue and dragged me on the ground from one end of the village to another still beating me. I was treated like a slave”, he said, anguish written all over his face.
Continuing his solemn narration he added, “I was drenched in my own blood .Then they asked me to take them to members of my vigilante group. And at every home we stopped, they beat, matchet my members and destroyed their houses, setting some ablaze. And what was our sin? We refused to support Prince Nonso and his brother, Mbanefo’s gang to take the land that the whole village gave to Prince Ned to build his University.
“Our vigilante group told them that we would not do a thing that would make our ancestors to bring atrocities on us. That is all my brother”, he lamented.
But Bama is a lucky man. Kennedy Nedu Illoh was not so lucky. His end was tragic. Nedu as he was fondly called was a principled man of uncommon character and bouncy spirit. He was the efficient and highly respected Secretary of the Land Allocation Committee and Chairman of the IUDU Task Force. He stood his ground, demonstrated a courageous stance against what he called a satanic move to take the land duly allocated to Prince Ned Nwoko . He knew what transpired before he got the land and would not mortgage his conscience for anything.
The terrorists allegedly met him at home and unleashed their worst terror on him. He screamed and screamed that he only stood for truth and justice. But that couldn’t save him.
He was then abducted and allegedly dumped at the palace where he was further battered and humiliated in the presence of Prince Nonso before he was released. He arrived his house and allegedly lapsed into coma.
“He eventually came round”, said a close source to his family. “But the injuries inflicted on him were fatal”, said the source.
He couldn’t recover from the barbarous attack. Nedu, the emblem of principle and integrity, an Idumuje-Ugboko rare patriot died from the fatal injuries inflicted on him by the marauding terrorists.
Chief Chris Ogwu is another towering figure in Idumuje-Ugboko. He is the Iyese, the Traditional Prime Minister, next only to the king in trado ranking. He is reverred and adored. But not by these blood thirsty terrorists.
Narrating his horror to this writer he said,” I was sitting in front of my house reading a newspaper when I heard sounds of clashing metals. I raised my face and believe me I saw over 30 dreadful looking young people coming towards me menacingly.
“It was like death walking towards you. Before getting to me some of them descended on my cars, smashed and vandalised them. Then the rest attacked me violently. I was helpless. They had guns and matchets and other dangerous weapons. I was totally vulnerable. As they were attacking me, another older group of about 15 to 20 men came.
“I thought they had come to rescue me but they only joined and intensified the brutality against me. Then they smashed the windows, doors of my house, ransacked everywhere, took money and valuable items. As if that was not enough, they frog matched me to the palace, dragging me on the ground. It was right in front of the palace that they unleashed their worst fury while I lay flat on the ground as if to please our late king’s son, Prince Chukwunonso. He took joy in seeing me tortured by children. I wept like a child. It was the worst humiliation and horror I’ve ever experienced in my whole life”, he lamented.
The terrorists did not spare the Odogwu either. He is the Chief next in ranking to the Iyese. His name is Chief Sunday Edemodu. The dare devil terrorists besieged his house at night, looted his valuables and unleashed on him a barbarous violence.
His blood cascaded on the floor like a stormy rain as they used dangerous weapons against him with an alarming fury. Even when he was fainting they continued their monstrous quest for his tragic end. He couldn’t comprehend the intensity of their savagery. They left him thinking he was dead. But Chief Edemodu survived the debilitating terror attack. However they had done their worst.
Today, their satanic, terrorist adventure to his house and the cruel barbarism have left him partially disabled as he battles severe health complications triggered by the brutish violence he suffered. Doctors allegedly have told him that his life may never be the same again. No thanks to the demented terrorists.
There was the innocent Okada boy, a motor bike rider. Cyprian Kumiolu, a native of Bunue state had innocently dropped a passenger in Idumuje-Ugboko. Now returning home he rode his bike past the front of the palace not suspecting anything. But passing by the palace turned out his only crime.
And pronto, a gun roared. It was from one of the satanic thugs now ever present at the palace and the surroundings. And in fleeting seconds the young Cyprian, a hapless little boy was down in a pool of his own blood. Cold.
Dequiet obnear the scene recalled how the hoodlums rushed to Cyprian’s lifeless body and hurriedly used a wheelbarrow to carter it away from the front of the palace and till today his body has not been found. But there are lingering rumours that both his body and his motorcycle were burnt the same night he was brutally murdered so that the palace could erase any iota of evidence.
And indeed in his perspectives of the crisis, a cultivated Dr Ogbechie, a most civilised gentleman sadly painted Cyprian’s death almost as a figment of the imagination. Being a staunch Palace supporter and backbone, his dismissal of the tragic and gruesome episode unwittingly lent credence to the rumours.
At a recent meeting of the Obi of Owa Peace Committee at the palace of the Obi of Idumuje-Unor, the father of the brutally murdered Okada boy appeared . He was a charred remains of what used to be a robust man. The meeting was both a Fact- Finding and Meet-the Victims rendezvous. Cyprian’s dad did not come to avenge his son’s death. He came to appeal to the royal fathers to help him beg the people of Idumuje-Ugboko to release the corpse of his son so that he could give him a decent burial if only so that his spirit may find peace.
Sadly till today, his hopes remain wishful thinking.
With no resistance to the brigandage and wanton destruction, the hoodlums went haywire visiting destruction on every house rumoured to be supporting Ned Nwoko’s quest to retain his land for his University project.
Young girls, ladies and mothers were allegedly not spared. Many of them reportedly dragged to the palace for Prince Nonso’s morbid satisfaction.
All the victims of this one week of mayhem were bound by one simple fact according to their testimonies–they refused to support Prince Nonso’sdesperation to stop hiscousin from building a University thatwould bring massiveinfrastructural developmentand economic boom to Idumuje-Ugboko.
By the time the investigatingpolice team, Nigerian Human RightsCommission, Human RightsWriters Association,HURIWA, and somother civil society organisations visited Ugboko, about 29 houses in that hamlet had been ravaged, torched and destroyed. The impact was devastating.
And that is why the victims are groaning today for the vengeance of the law and they seem unbending in their determination to get justice as some of the alleged terrorists and their sponsors are now in the dreaded theatre of law, the court to give an account of their mortal roles.
A lawyer of international repute, Dr Harry Ifediba, qualified the violence that scarred the soul of the village. Hear him
“The 2017 Ugboko terrorism was an act of hate and wickedness, what is required now is real leadership and it could only be achieved by addressing justice.
Those in support of retrogression, hate and sadism celebrated the unspeakable display of terror unleashed on innocent indigenes. The barbarians used the most ominous weapons against the victims.
What happened is reminiscent of The Beslan school siege also referred to as the Beslan school hostage crisis or Beslan massacre which started and lasted for three days. It involved the illegal imprisonment of over 1,100 people as hostages including 777 children, and ended with the death of 333 people including 186 children.
The scale of arson and death may be widely different in comparison to the Idumuje-Ugboko terrorists’ real life gory theatre. But the two horrendous incidents have something in common. And that is that the perpetrators were sent by someone who is intoxicated by power, hate and sadism”, he narrated.
He added “Unimaginable violence was deployed against members of the Idumuje-Ugboko community, particularly directed at those who supported the university project by Prince Ned Nwoko.
The indigenes of Idumuje Ugboko experienced a sustained violent attacks and rage.
Vicious and ominous weapons were wielded by the hate motivated sadistic hoodlums.
The violence was sponsored by those who wanted to stymie the proposed University project through the terrorism attack.
They believed the violent attack was their best chance of either derailing or styming the development and prosperity the university would bring to the community and other communities around the area and they didn’t want Prince Ned to take such credit. There was a tinge of vicious envy, monstrous and destructive ego at play”, he added.
“Without fear of contradiction, it is obvious that the atrocious attack was professionally organized for a particular mission, life changing injuries were inflicted on individuals, their houses were burnt, their properties were destroyed”.
Concluding, he stated rather tersely, “The culprits of these heinous savagery and terror unleashed on women, children and innocent people in Idumuje Ugboko will have to face the music “.
Despite all these acts of terror, Prince Ned Nwoko stands for peace but will always pray for justice to take the lead. He is ever open to all quests for amicable resolution of Idumuje-Ugboko disputes even when he had been betrayed in the past.
But he will always add that in the process of achieving the peace, let no one suffer injustice.
A DANGEROUS MOVE TO DRAG IUDU INTO A PERSONAL AGENDA ?
As a Nigeria Media Merit Award winning journalist, the News Magazine Journalist of the Year 1992 and Crime Reporter of the Year 1992 Nominee, I have traversed the Nigerian state. I have investigated series of kingship tussles, chieftaincy title wars and fratricidal battles of the royalty dimension like the current Idumuje-Ugboko impasse.
In Anambra state for example, I saw bloody battles. Retired Judges, business magnates murdered , wives and husbands stabbed over 20 times each on the stomach in the eerie hours of the night, mortal attacks that erased some families.
I was at the hilly bucolic town called Ukpor, the headquarters of Nnewi South Local Government Area in Anambra. From here hails Nigerians like Mbazulike Amechi, Nigeria’s first Minister of Information, late Senate President, writer and educationist, Nwafor Orizu and a former Minister of Education, Obi Ezekwesili.
I had been appointed in 1991 to investigate the kingship crises in the South East during the Ibrahim Babangida administration when government mandated the various communities and kingdoms to choose their kings.
In Ukpor, the tussle was between two billionaires, Chief Joe Obi and Chief Ngozi Anapusim.
For what would eventually last ten years, these two economic giants fought their royal battle with a grim rivalry. The smell of a grave bloody war was thick.
But unlike many other kingdoms in Anambra state, in spite of the ferocity of the animus and ill will, nobody was physically attacked. And none was killed.
The only reason for this sanity was the role played by Ukpor Improvement Union, UIU, which as a collective chose to stand on a moral high ground as an impartial arbiter despite the personal biases of some of its members.
Both Obi and Anapusim eventually passed on with none able to wear the crown.
But in several local government areas, small communities, inordinate ambition and rapacious thirst for power overwhelmed the force of reason.
I witnessed court sessions, trials following cases of brutal murders, sponsoring of arson, mayhem and all that. And I saw young men sentenced to 10 years, 15 years in prison and three sentenced to death. Their sponsors were not spared. Some were jailed 15 years and some life-in-prison.
It was both a chilling and a sobering experience.
The reason for this impunity that drastically changed the cause of their lives for the worst was failure of dialogue and miscarriage of justice at the traditional level. It was a deadly failure to see the grim picture of the flip side of peace.
The reason for my rather long tale here is the dreadful dimension that the Idumuje-Ugboko crisis is taking. Worse still the dangerous path, perhaps unknowingly, that IUDU is treading. I am in possession of a letter dated June 1, 2020 signed by one Okey Ifejoku as President-General and Azuka Mukolu who is the Secretary-General.
I have also sighted the contributions being made by various IUDU branches in different states. They have raised a total sum of N13,900,000 with N20million their target.
The purpose they wrote was to use this huge sum of money to hire a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, to defend those arrested on terrorism charges and now facing prosecution in Abuja.
This writer is sincerely and deeply worried that a town union that should be the irrepressible voice of justice and a generalissimo in the vanguard for peace has adorned the garb of an antagonist to appropriate justice. There is no question that IUDU needs to embark on a journey of rare introspection.
And the first and clear question the IUDU should ask itself and answer is whether Prince Ned Nwoko took all of them as a union to court. If the candid answer is no, that means the International Lawyer probably took one of them to court or in their opinion is supporting someone that took a member of the union to court.
And that is the iron-cast truth no matter the colouration anyone chose to give it. Another question then is, should the right move for a town union be to support one against the other, no matter how wrong one may be ? Why is it a town union?
A solid native union like the case of Ukpor must be an oasis of peace, oozing acoustics of hope even in the darkest moments, no matter how dour the conflicts . It must consistently and strenuously mediate until a lasting peace is found.
Contributing funds to defend one member or members against others is a crass and fatal failure of leadership. And this indeed provokes critical questions. How does IUDU know that its President-General, Okey Ifejoku doesn’t have a personal agenda using IUDU as a carapace?
Has the IUDU investigated the rumour that Ifejoku is tenacious in the fight for Prince Nonso because he, Prince Nonso, has also promised to make him the Odogwu just as he was alleged to reserve the Iyese title and regalia for Dr Ogbechie.
If in court tomorrow a different drama plays out and Ifejoku and the other suspects are convicted of terrorism charges, does it occur to IUDU that in an extreme situation, anyone of them could easily be singled out for funding, aiding and abetting terrorism?
Prince Ned has stated repeatedly that he is not fighting and cannot fight IUDU. So, how is it that the brotherly group could not mask its biases and what many termed vicious malice, to bend backwards for the peace of their village.
Today, Prince Nonso lives like a hermit because he is a fugitive whether IUDU glosses over this or not. The law ultimately will come for him and that is when the stark reality of the looming legal catastrophe will dawn on everyone.
The hard truth is that the price of peace is so cheap yet not many can afford it.
The IUDU based on the experience of this writer is travelling a famished road littered with starvation and volcanic eruption. What will be the cost of peace? Just a lowering of bloated egos.
That’s all. But if this case is allowed to continue and any of those suspects is pronounced guilty tomorrow, it will be a major sun set for Idumuje-Ugboko. It will be for the suspect a long walk through an abysmal wilderness.
Even if IUDU raises N10billion it will be of no effect. And their lives will never, ever be the same again. And IUDU would have succeeded in digging the deepest gulf of enmity between families, a gulf too deep to be filled again.
So you ask, what development will IUDU subsequently bring to a bitter, divided community?
What village has won genuine peace between brothers in a court of law.
Time ticks truly for IUDU. It must seize the urgency of now to rethink and reconstruct its strategy before it is too late.