By Ikechukwu Olisa
The people of Anioma, the Ibo speaking people of Delta state, stood up in unison to give an ovation to the judgement collectively delivered by the Royal Fathers of Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta state over the long tussle for the authentic Obi of Idumuje-Ugboko.
They praised the judgement overwhelmingly describing as it as the height of the demonstration of sagacity and courage.
But the news of their judgement came both as a shock and a surprise. And the reason is simple, the people of Idumuje-Ugboko had a subdued fear that the outcome of the Royal Fathers’ mediation could be influenced by financial power.
This is so because some of those backing the contenders had huge war chests.
For instance, everyone in Ugboko community and indeed Anioma knew that Prince Nonso Nwoko, the eldest son of the immediate past Obi Albert Nwoko III, was heavily sponsored by business magnate and oil mogul, Dr Gabriel Ogbechie. And Ogbechie made no pretences about it.
In his advertorial publication in Vanguard of May 21, 2020, he stated, “I am fully in support of our king, the Obi of Idumuje-Ugboko, His Royal Highness, Obi Chukwunonso 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.”
Ogbechie was not just speaking English, he backed his words with his fat wallet. He financed Prince Nonso in all facets of his battle to be king.
When all the top members of his father’s traditional council denounced Nonso’s usurpation of the throne, Dr Ogbechie was there to support him.
Even when Nonso was accused of importing murderous hoodlums that unleashed mayhem on Idumuje-Ugboko, Ogbechie did not only stand by him, he boasted of how he had bailed some of the accused persons remanded in Kuje Correctional Facility.
Even when some of Prince Nonso’s uncles wrote Ogbechie and condemned the terrorism unleashed on their community, Dr Ogbechie defended it claiming those that visited carnage and destruction on Ugboko were only on a revenge mission.
The Idumuje-Ugboko community, therefore, feared that Ogbechie could use his financial muscle to bend the will of the traditional rulers and thus influence the outcome of their intervention.
The Ugboko people also took cognisance of the formidable presence of Prince Ned Nwoko, a renowned International Lawyer and robust billionaire who is also a member of the Nwoko Royal Family.
Although Prince Ned did not show overt interest in the royal battle, he had his problem with Prince Nonso who, spurred by his financiers, did everything to frustrate Prince Ned’s plan to build his STARS University in his village as Nonso suddenly denounced the approval for land given by his father, the Idumuje-Ugboko community and the Aniocha North Local Government Area.
Although the highly respected billionaire and politician defeated Nonso in all the court cases and went ahead to commence the building of his university, most of the community members and close observers of the contest were sure he would never support Prince Nonso.
Indeed, some Idumuje-Ugboko indigenes stated categorically that the iconic philanthropist, Prince Ned, was supporting Prince Uche Nwoko, the young half brother of Prince Nonso.
They, therefore, waited with freezing suspense for the verdict.
This explains why the judgement was immediately greeted with applause in the whole of Anioma because they were convinced that this was a judgement founded on justice and without external influences.
Both Ugboko people and interested indigenes of Anioma and Delta state knew that the new Obi was the most disadvantaged financially.
They knew he had no billionaire backing, therefore they gave him a little if not, no chance of winning.
But the royal fathers had a different mindset. They were neutral. They wanted to be in the good book of history, so they pried into history, interrogated both oral and documented records.
They went out of Ugboko, got historical parallels on Regency. They extended their odyssey to Ubulu Uku and Ogwashi Uku to draw from historical relevance and judicial pronouncements.
The Aniocha North Royal Fathers illuminated Idumuje-Ugboko’s history. It was not opaque. It was easy and crystal for anyone to see and read.
Therefore it was difficult for them to be swayed by the attempts of some interested parties to compromise them.
And so on Thursday, January 28, 2021, under the Chairmanship of the Obi of Issele Azagba, these towering custodians of tradition, the eminent Royal Fathers of Aniocha North Local Government Area, stood up and tall with one voice to proclaim as the Obi of Idumuje-Ugboko, His Royal Majesty, Agbogidi Obi Solomon Eziokwubundu Nwabuokei Nwoko, the Great grand so of Obi Nwoko the First and Founder of Idumuje-Ugboko as the authentic King of Idumuje-Ugboko.
The greatest news, however, is that since this verdict was given, there has been an unbelievable peace and unbridled joy in the community.
Not a single, even if tame, protest has been witnessed.
For Idumuje-Ugboko, it seems it is peace at last!