By Dr. Gabriel Ifeanyi Ogbechie
OUR SINCERE RESPONSE.
Our attention has been drawn to a publication, hereabove referred, by Gabriel Ifeanyi Ogbechie published in Vanguard online of May 21, 2020.
At best, his article may generously be termed his role in the Idumuje-Ugboko crisis otherwise it is a mere tale to ingratiate and celebrate himself and his perceived role in the fratricidal crisis.
IS GABRIEL AN IMPARTIAL ARBITER?
No question, when history opens the pages of this crisis for generations to come, they will surely squint with acute concern because Ogbechie’s role will loudly be tainted with cruel miscarriage of justice. Certainly not a stainless umpire or arbiter.
On the surface, the flow of his thoughts and presentation may hold the uninformed and innocent readers captive and thus persuaded to believe that Ogbechie, who also hails from our dear Idumuje-Ugboko Kingdom did not stand aloof over the three to four years of our intense crisis. Indeed, Ogbechie didn’t stand aloof. He enunciated his meetings with Prince Hon. Ned Nwoko, an illustrious son of the community, who he supposes that his consent to Ogbechie’s peace pursuits would automatically lead to the granting of Staff of Office to Prince Chukwunonso Justin Nwoko whose kingship ambition remains Ogbechie’s sole agendum. Need we tell him it is more complex, more complicated and more intricate than that.
By his presentation, Ogbechie tried albeit unsuccessfully, to wear the garb of an impartial arbiter in the soul-pricking crisis that has distressed our once safe and serene community. Unfortunately, this is not so. Persons close to the issues and involved in other efforts to resolve the crisis know that Ogbechie is not and cannot be an innocent umpire. In succinct terms, Gabriel is an otherwise respectable son of Idumuje-Ugboko who has now been severely diminished unfortunately by his glaring unholy alliance with those who carried out horrifying savage attacks on the supporters of the Hon. Prince Ned Nwoko for attempting to build a university in Idumuje-Ugboko in Anioma Land. Therefore, embarking on pilgrimages to Abuja for meetings with Prince Ned is only a facade or to serve as a weak testimony to his messianic claims.
Let’s carry out a little scrutiny, a dissection of Ogbechie’s role in the crisis.
A BRIEF SCRUTINY OF THE CRISIS AND OGBECHIE’S ACTION AND INACTION
A CRUCIAL MEETING SABOTAGED
On 31st of March, 2017, Gabriel Ogbechie hosted a meeting of Idumuje-Ugboko Development Union’s stakeholders at his house in the village. Here, at the end of discussions, a Fact-Finding Committee was set-up to look at the immediate and remote causes of the brewing crisis in the community, with Chief, Architect Paul as Chairman of the committee. Gabriel Ogbechie was a prominent member of this committee amongst other members. The committee subsequently fixed a meeting of parties to the dispute for April 21, 2017. But, guess what?
Just before this crucial meeting could hold, Gabriel Ogbechie and his team sabotaged their own arrangement by causing to be published and indeed published, a two page advertorial of false information in Vanguard Newspaper of 21st April, 2017. The publication in terse language passed a corrosive judgement that passed a guilty verdict on Prince Hon. Ned Nwoko and supporters of his proposed university to be sited in the community . This primitive and pre-meditated judgement held them guilty of masterminding the then brewing crisis without the opportunity of fair hearing. And to think the same Prince Ned Nwoko had been invited to present his own side of the story at that meeting and to which he had indicated willingness to attend.
Gabriel Ogbechie and all the members of this committee were all signatories to the said advertorial published by the Okey Ifejoku led IUDU-NEC. It was not only a tragic case of hypocrisy and betrayal of a collective cause, it was both an embarrassing and shameful show of crass enmity directed at one man whose only sin was his decision to site a University in his home town. Prince Ned Nwoko flew in gallantly from Abuja to attend that seemingly critical and hope inspiring meeting, only to find out it had been preempted, rendered fait-accompli by the supposed champions of peace. Idumuje-Ugboko kingdom shuddered at this brazen display of animosity. And Gabriel Ogbechie, the man who published the recent epistle of peace in Vanguard was there. And played a pivotal role in both the publication and botched meeting.
THE SEVEN DAYS OF BARBARIC VIOLENCE AND OGBECHIE’S ROLE
For seven days, Idumuje-Ugboko famed serenity was shattered by bruttish and gory violence. Our people froze at an unprecedented echo of pain from barbaric violence and blood shed. Since that May 18 – 25, 2017 mayhem in Idumuje-Ugboko, Gabriel Ogbechie has not found it expedient to associate with any member of the over 29 victims of the bloodbath. But, he has been financing and paying the bills and legal fees of the aggressors, murderers without conscience, who have been charged to Court in Nigeria to give account of their savagery.
FOR OGBECHIE, IT IS NONSO BY ALL MEANS
For Ogbechie, Nonso must be king. It doesn’t matter to him what anyone else says or the court rules.
His consistent, strident and sometimes hysterical calls to any relevant authority is for Prince Nonso to be given Staff of Office.
Even when there are subsisting litigations against that in the court of Law and an injunction restraining such permission, they mean profound nothing to our dear brother.
Yet Ogbechie’s ” Perspectives” in Vanguard says he is a neutral figure interested in the actualization of the university as well as Prince Chukwunonso getting his Staff of Office. There is certainly a deep seated tinge of insincerity here that could lead to a gentleman’s self immolation. It is sad.
RUMOURS OF DESPERATION AND CORRUPTION
There is no question that Ogbechie has exhibited desperation in his quest to legitimize Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko as Obi of Idumuje-Ugboko. It, therefore, did not come as a shock when news sneaked into Idumuje-Ugboko and spread like wildfire, alleging that the oil magnate attempted compromising the traditional rulers through a Local Government Council Chairman with an offer of a staggering amount of money for our respectable traditional rulers to expedite the endorsement of Prince Chukwunonso Justin Nwoko for a Staff of Office as Obi of Idumuje-Ugboko. But our royal fathers are elders of untrammeled integrity and naturally they frowned seriously at this unbridled show of desperation fully aware there were not only cases pending in court but there are two other contestants to the throne.
PRINCE NED REMAINS INNOCENT AND WITHOUT BLEMISH
We make bold to say that the Idumuje-Ugboko crisis which began in 2017 is not as a result of the legitimately allocated 90 hectares of land by the appropriate authority in Idumuje-Ugboko to a prominent son of the soil, Prince Ned Nwoko whose application for land like any other indigene with noble intentions for development came up in 2015 and was duly analyzed, scrutinized and his project investigated before approval was duly given by the Land Allocation Committee, by the Obi and his principal chiefs, by the four federating villages and by the Idumuje-Ugboko Development Union (IUDU). Absolute due process.
It was after a detailed, excruciating due process that the application was approved, signed, sealed and delivered by HRM Obi Albert Nwoko III, PhD,JP, MON on 10th day of April, 2015 with a letter dated 10th April, 2015 and addressed to Linas International Limited through Prince Ned Nwoko confirming same. So you ask, is Gabriel Ogbechie not aware of these processes the application went through before it was approved. We ask because in his ‘ impartial ‘ epistle in Vanguard, he suggested that Prince Ned Nwoko should go and search for another land elsewhere. He feigned ignorance of the approval and even all the failed court cases by “his king”, Prince Chukwunonso in his bid to stop the University project. How could Ogbechie audaciously tell the world that people owned lands at the area mapped out for the University? Are they not areas preserved for development projects since the end of the 1956 – 1969 Land tussle between Idumuje-Ugboko and her neighbouring community of Onicha-Ugbo which ended with an Out-Of-Court settlement- judgement in 1969 with the final survey of the area conducted through the efforts of the two communities by the then Midwestern Government in 1971. How impartial could our dear brother Gabriel Ifeanyi Ogbechie be. And he said it, he is Ned’s brother and friend. Yet, he feigned ignorance and maintained a deafening silence when injustice was on the prowl and his brother and friend was the sole target.
ENTER FAKE AND FRAUDULENT LETTERS STILL TARGETED AT NO ONE BUT PRINCE NED BECAUSE OF A UNIVERSITY
Again on August 12, 2015, Idumuje-Ugboko woke up to some strange letters protesting the process of the land allocation . It was the handiwork of Prince Chukwunonso , Prince Richard Obiajulu Nwoko and Prince Fredrick Ejimofor Nwoko. But the signatures on the letters were purportedly that of Obi Albert Nwoko III. This shocking letters proclaimed lack of knowledge of the processes leading to the agreements and allocation of the 90 hectares of land to Linas International Ltd as requested for the establishment of a university and a golf course in Idumuje-Ugboko . The village stood still as these insidious letters flew from church to shops and markets.
On receipt of this letter, some persons decided to verify the validity of the two letters dated 10th April, 2015 and 12th August, 2015 which were now contradicting themselves – the letter of Approval and The Letter of Denial. Every attempt to speak with the Obi were blocked by Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko who had already sidelined the Obi and assumed the Obi’s functions even while the Obi was still alive and well, through the help of his private secretary and security men who would tell any callers at the palace including the Obi’s High Chiefs that the Obi was unavailable. Even Prince Ned who was the Obi’s main benefactor, paying his medical bills and all, could not reach him. The king’s phone had been seized by Prince Chukwunonso. Rendering the king incommunicado and the consequent frustrations led to the petition by a former two-term President-General of Idumuje-Ugboko Development Union (IUDU) on 14th September, 2015 inviting the Nigeria Police to investigate the validity or otherwise of both letters and claims of the Obi’s state of availability.
The result of the investigations as released by the Police Authorities on 24th February, 2016, was the indictment of some members of the Royal family including Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko, Prince Richard Obiajulu Nwoko and Prince Fredrick Ejimofor Nwoko for forgery and fraudulent procurement of the document dated 12th August, 2015 alleging the denial of knowledge of the Obi of the processes of the allocation of land for the university project, and also for conspiracy and acts capable of inciting the community to breach of public peace. They were subsequently charged to court by the State for criminal activities and the matters are still ongoing in court.
If you read Ogbechie’s “The Quest for Peace in Idumuje-Ugboko”, you wouldn’t help but ask, where was he when all these were happening. What role did he play to check a simmering injustice. He didn’t even mute such a cruel quest to stop one man, Prince Ned, in his long epistle. How can an impartial peace seeker turn his back on a crude act of injustice. We must allow truth and justice to penetrate the car apace of our conscience no matter how hard we are.
THE SERIAL COURT SUITS WITHOUT A SINGLE VICTORY–YET GABRIEL OGBECHIE REMAINED SILENT
In January, 2016, Prince Chukwunonso and four other members of the royal family including Prince Richard Obiajulu Nwoko, Prince Fredrick Ejimofor Nwoko, Prince Edwin Ezionyeunor Nwoko and Prince Dennis Uwadiegwu Nwoko instituted a Civil Suit at the Issele-Uku High Court with Suit No: HCI/2/2016 against Aniocha North LGC, Prince Ned Nwoko and Linas International for themselves and on behalf of the Obi and Umu-Omorhusi Family excluding Prince Ned Nwoko challenging the collective decision of the community on the allocation of the Idumuje-Ugboko Development Land to Linas International Limited for the university project. It is worthy of note that on 3rd June of 2016, Prince Edwin Izeonyeunor Nwoko in a Deposition before the High Court withdrew from the case on the grounds that he was deceived by Prince Chukwunonso and others into believing that the Obi mandated them to institute the case, only for him to find out the Obi was not aware of the suit, neither did he give anyone power of attorney to sue on his behalf or on behalf of the Umu-Omorhusi family. Of further note is paragraph six of the said 3rd June, 2016 affidavit, here reproduced in part “That it was on our personal agreement, volition, belief and conviction that necessitated the institution of this case”. Before this, paragraph five of the same affidavit states and we here also reproduce, “That there was no proper authority earlier issued mandating the claimants including me to institute this case against the Defendants”.
AND THE PRINCE LOSES
On June 18, 2019, Prince Chukwunonso lost the the civil suit No. HCI/12/2019 at Agbor High Court.
He again sued the police, obtaining injection to stop investigation of his father’s death. Now he has lost this case. The police is coming back and Obi Nwoko III’s body may be exhumed for autopsy. It is a massive victory for the wives. More on this below.
AGAIN PRINCE NONSO LOSES AFTER THE REIGN OF TERRORISM
After the mayhem in Idumuje-Ugboko, the law went after them including Prince Chukwunonso and his gang with criminal proceedings opened against them at the Chief Magistrate Court Asaba. But trying to cheat justice, they ran to a Vacation Judge in Delta State High Court , Effurun to obtain an order for Enforcement of their Fundamental Rights in a suit No. EHC/M/74/2017. This was in 2017. But they couldn’t hide under the law or abuse it for too long. The case was dismissed and struck out at the Agbor High Court where it had been moved on the 3rd of June , 2019.
Prince Chukwunonso LOST !!
Now , the alleged terrorists have to face the full weight of the law. And the law will go its full course.
NOW , we ask this critical questions. How is it that our brother, Gabriel Ifeanyi Ogbechie was only going to Hon. Prince Ned Nwoko? How is it that he never advised “his king”, Prince Chukwunonso to stop his forum shopping and irritating frivolous suits, especially as he has been a serial loser. Yes, Gabriel heard the cases. He attended to alleged terrorists but maintained incredulous silence about the victims and the lives lost. What an arbiter !
AND THE KING MAKES HIS SUDDEN AND SOLEMN TRANSITION….AND THE WIVES ARE THROWN OUT
Enter the 2017 violent crisis following the sudden exit of HRM Obi Albert Nwoko III, PhD, JP, MON; Obi of Idumuje-Ugboko under mysterious circumstances on February the 6th, 2017. Strange things happened. Things that were at best an aberration, taboo, totally out of conformity with the traditions and cultural norms of the Idumuje-Ugboko kingdom and by extension the entire Anioma Land. These include the hasty burial of the departed Obi in the eerie hours of the night without his wives identifying the corpse was that of their husband and performing their traditional rituals for their departed husband as tradition permits. The purported self-installation of a new Obi less than an hour after the midnight purported burial, to the exclusion of the appropriate traditional figures and in total abhorrence of installation rituals. This led inevitably to the petition by Queen Ifeoma Nwoko and Queen Faith Okwukwe Nwoko, wives of the demised Obi Albert Okwuwadiegwu Nwoko III to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, IGP , with copies addressed to the Local Government Chairman and the Traditional Rulers committee accusing their stepson Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko and three other members of the Royal family of sinister motives ,hidden agenda and manipulation of the dead.
STOPPING THE POLICE FROM INVESTIGATING THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING HIS FATHER’S DEATH.
Once the news spread everywhere and then reached the Prince that the police had started investigating circumstances surrounding the sudden death of the Obi and the ghoulish drama of his burial, Prince Chukwunonso and his co-travellers quickly scampered to the court to obtain an injunction stopping the police from investigating the circumstances surrounding Obi Nwoko’s death , a fall out of the wives’ petition. Then we ask…If Prince Chukwunonso’s hands were clean, why would he use the court to stop the police from investigating circumstances surrounding his father’s death. Shouldn’t he gladly encourage and support it ? Instead he forced his father’s wives out of the palace, leaving them to their fate. These issues were subject matters in every family’s discussion and even gossip in Idumuje-Ugboko.
Yet Gabriel Ifeanyi Ogbechie claimed he attended the Obi’s burial and the social events that followed. What event? Was the Iyese, the Traditional Prime Minister and second in ranking to the late Obi there? Was the Odogwu, the Traditional Defense Minister there? Was the Eze-Dibie, -Chief Priest- Ojeanyegbe Sunday Ochei there? If the highest ranking Chiefs and Chief Priest of the community were not present at any ceremony at all concerning the king, doesn’t it portend something wrong? And Gabriel Ogbechie was there. As who? The Iyese, Odogwu, Eze-Dibie or who ? What questions did he ask? What role did he play as a harbinger of peace to pull back his village from the brink? Did he call the Iyese, Odogwu, Eze-Dibie or Prince Ned Nwoko to ask what was going on. Our brother, Gabriel Ifeanyi Ogbechie didn’t because he had taken sides and because he had his own personal agenda, a matter for another day.
THE GROUSOME GANG RAPE OF A MINOR…RIGHT INSIDE THE PALACE
If Mr Gabriel Ifeanyi Ogbechie was so interested in palace affairs as he has demonstrated , how is it that the violent gang rape of a 14 year old girl right inside the palace didn’t prick his conscience. Oh, he didnt hear ? And he is so close to Prince Chukwunonso ? Yes, because the barbaric rapist who owned up out of the many is one of those close to Prince Chukwunonso and perpetually in the palace. Rather than prosecute these animal, Prince Chukwunonso sent someone to the police to stop the investigation with the claim that it was a mutual affair gone sour.
If it was mutual how was it that the village fined the violent animal-rapist. And that was all his punishment, a goat and refund of N100.000 medical bill. The poor little girl was left to suffer the humiliation and psychological trauma alone. Till today, four years after and now in the University, she shudders whenever she is alone and sees a man approaching. Tragic to say the list. A timeless injustice to an innocent soul, a minor , just 14.
This was a case that attracted International Federation of Women Lawyers.
Everyone in Idumuje-Ugboko heard, yes everyone. But not our brother Gabriel. Truth is there are things that men of conscience must deal with. It is not within our powers to judge Gabriel our brother but we owe him a duty in this instance to bring him face to face with some stinging and irreversible truth because the roles we play in this planet will decide whether we end up on history’s glorious centrespread or its footnotes.
DEFYING OUR RESPECTABLE ROYAL FATHERS AND THE MAJESTY OF TRADITION
The Aniocha North Traditional Rulers Committee met on March the 5th, 2017 with both parties in attendance and in their recommendations, they advised that both parties go back home and resolve their differences in line with the tradition, custom, norms and culture of the people of Idumuje-Ugboko.
PRINCE CHUKWUNONSO DEFIED OUR FATHERS AND STILL LOST THE CASE
Rather than heed this wise counsel of the Natural Rulers, Prince Barr. Felix Mbanefo Nwoko in a four-page petition firet to the Delta State Commissioner of Police, then to the Assistant Inspector-General Zone 5, Benin-City and finally to the Inspector-General of Police on behalf of Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko, Richard Obiajulu Nwoko and Fredrick Ejimofor Nwoko, alleged among other things; Threat to Life, Harassment, Intimidation, desecration etc against Prince Ned Nwoko, Chief Christopher Ogwu (Iyese of Idumuje-Ugboko), Chief Sunday Edemodu (Odogwu of Idumuje-Ugboko), Prince Walters Onyeisi Ugochukwu Eziashi (former Two-Term President-General of IUDU), Late Mr. Bennet Odor (immediate past President-General of IUDU) and Mr. Kennedy Nedu Illoh (secretary Land Allocation Committee and former IUDU Taskforce Committee Chairman). These persons were invited by the Police, granted bail, investigated and later exonerated. An arraignment notice was subsequently served on Prince Chukwunonso Justin Nwoko by the Police Authorities for false information. Till date Prince Chukwunonso has evaded this arraignment.
Yet, Gabriel Ogbechie presented Prince Chukwunonso as an innocent man being hounded by the police. He expected him to send the police on a wild goose chase with a parochial petition and the police returning to hug him and take a bow. Of course there is a caustic measure reserved for fraudulent petitions and Prince Chukwunonso is certainly not above the law.
CONTENSION FOR THE THRONE
Aside these chains of events, there has been Supremacy battle for the throne since the demise on February 6. 2017 of HRM Obi Albert Nwoko III, Obi of Idumuje-Ugboko between two families with three candidates; Prince Chukwunonso Justin Nwoko, Prince Uche Nwoko and Prince Solomon Eziokwubundu Nwabuokei Nwoko. These three candidates have valid claims in their own rights and beliefs on the throne and their claims are matters of litigations before the courts and it is ongoing hence needed no further dwelling on here.
But Gabriel Ogbechie’s article with confounding fact-deficit tells his readers that there is no contention for the thrown. Need we say more on this?
PRINCE CHUKWUNONSO’S PUNITIVE MEASURES AND THE BOOMERANG
While the process of arraignment was still ongoing, Prince Chukwunonso and his men entered a new and higher level of hostilities against the community. They began to excommunicate indigenes with perceived divergent views. First the high-ranking Chiefs, some members of the Royal family including but not limited to Prince Ned Nwoko, Prince Daniel Nwoko, Prince Akaba Nwoko, Prince Edwin Nwoko, Diokpa Prince Onwuamaonyeukwu Esuzor Nwoko, Prince Uche Nwoko, Prince Solomon Eziokwubundu Nwabuokei Nwoko, Queen Faith Okwukwe Nwoko, Queen Ifeoma Nwoko wives of the departed Obi and their children etc and members of the community who they suspected could be against their inordinate desire for power.
It was in this chaotic atmosphere that Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko and his men attempted to convene a meeting of the town (Izu-Ani), the highest ruling body of the community on the 18th day of May, 2017 with an intention to legalize these illegalities.
Of course, the community did not approve of such meeting in the absence of a king which Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko was not,and so the high-ranking Chiefs and other traditional institutions such as the Ikpala-Ani, Eze-Dibie and Ndi-Dibie etc who ought to attend the meeting as demanded by tradition stayed away. In fact these were people and institutions Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko claimed he had excommunicated and abolished from the processes of administration in the community contrary to traditions. And by their absence the Izu Ani was dead on arrival. And Prince Chukwunonso and his kingship ambition therefore remained a scandal and an odious aberration.
A FULL BLOWN TERRORISM
On the night of 18th May, 2017, all hell was let loose, Prince Chukwunonso, his financiers, agents and privies unleashed mayhem in a terrorist frenzy through their trained thugs called youths, hired militia who were imported from far and near. This invasion lasted till the 25th May, 2017.
During the invasion, the gang of terrorists chanting war songs unleashed on the community began their attacks of the previous leaders in the kingdom. These include the vigilante group ably led by Peter Bama who was beaten black and blue, dragged round the town in his birthday suit and forced to lead them to homes of the other vigilante members one by one where the double barrel guns and bullets provided the vigilante members by the community for protection were captured and carted away by the hoodlums up till date. They equally made away with the security transportation (motorcycles) acquired for mobility and quick response to distress calls by the vigilantes for the effective community policing of the town.
Furthermore, they attacked individuals at their homes. The secretary of the land allocation committee and then Chairman of the IUDU Taskforce Committee, Mr. Kennedy Nedu Illoh was abducted from his home and dragged to the palace and beaten to intimidate and humiliate him to submit his loyalty to Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko. Kennedy Illoh never recovered from this inhuman torture as he died thereafter as a result of this inhuman experience.
By morning, the attacks continued with increasing hostility. Chief Chris Ogwu, the Iyese (Traditional Prime Minister) of Idumuje-Ugboko was attacked at his home and abducted to the palace after his two cars parked in front of his house were thoroughly vandalized, his house broken into and vital documents including his valuables stolen by the armed gang. At the palace, he was flogged, forced to lie down on the floor and severely beaten in front of Prince Chukwunonso and his men who were watching and enjoying the pains, agony and humiliation of the traditional Prime Minister by the hired assailants. The Iyese was lucky not to have been killed, but till date he is still suffering the physical and psychological effects of the trauma.
Chief Sunday Edemodu, the Odogwu of Idumuje-Ugboko was not spared the misdirected wrath of this gang. They invaded his home at night, damaged his house and looted his valuables. This attack has left him partially disabled battling with complicated health challenges which till date he is still laboring under.
Mr. Victor Omezi, an illustrious son of the community from Atuma village of Idumuje-Ugboko narrowly escaped death because at the time the hoodlums evaded his home, he was not at home as he had earlier that evening traveled out of town. But his home and properties therein were not spared the viciousness of the gang. The hoodlums set his building ablaze expecting to burn the entire building after the looting of most of his valuables including cash and very valuable imported artifacts but for the quick intervention of his security personnel and family and vigilant neighbours.
It is the same gory stories of wanton destructions, looting. Arson, beating, humiliation in over twenty-nine (29) other homes in the community as recorded by both the Nigerian Police and National Human Rights Commission who visited the community to see things for themselves. But for the re-enforcement of the security agencies who arrived the community late 25th May, 2017, the calamity brought upon our community by Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko and his financiers and men perhaps would have been more colossal.
While these frenzy terrorism and man’s inhumanity to man continued unchallenged as the indigenes were hapless and helpless on the face of blatant unprovoked attack, these bandits released their gun bullets most freely on both human being and domestic animals around as their conceit grew in the absence of any counter attacks. It was in this frenzy that the hoodlums shot at one Mr. Cyprian Kumiolu, a young okada rider and life was sniffed out of him. He was murdered in cold blood in front of the palace by the hired bandits in a bid to please Prince Chukwunonso Justin Nwoko. Cyprian Kumiolu’s corpse according to eye-witnesses was removed from the palace in a wheelbarrow by one of the arrested suspects already standing trials to the market square and at midnight the corpse was taken away to an unknown location by persons close to the palace. Till date the body of this young Benue State indigene has not been found and every other week since May, 2017 his father who recently appeared before the Obi of Owa Peace Committee on a fact-finding-meet-the-victims meeting at the palace of the Obi of Idumuje-Unor mid-March, 2020, has been pleading with Idumuje-Ugboko to release the corpse of his son to him for burial. Painful enough, the young man was not only murdered in cold blood, his motorcycle was set ablaze and burnt to ashes. What a gory story of man’s inhumanity to man!
Throughout this reign of terror in our dear village, we didn’t hear the voice of Gabriel Ifeanyi Ogbechie. In his Vanguard publication he claimed the palace was invaded to abort an Izu-Ani meeting. Who could have sent the thugs? Of course Prince Ned was not in the village on the said 18th May, 2017 or any date in May of 2017. We were winning all the cases in court. So, why would you leave a legal advantage to resort to violence. Does it make sense. Is it logical?
Shockingly, Gabriel Ogbechie dismissed the murder of the innocent okada (motorcycle) boy. He practically depicted it as mere drama. He probably did his own investigation and drew his own conclusions. And he is a neutral peace seeker.
As at today, Bench warrants have been issued by the courts against eleven (11) of the suspects. Of this number, four (4) have been apprehended and charged formally, seven (7) others including the Chief Tormentors Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko and Prince Dennis Uwadiegwu Nwoko are still at large.
So, we ask these pertinent questions.
1. How could Gabriel Ogbechie gloss over the reign of terror in Idumuje-Ugboko in 2017 and the fact that Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko’s thugs unlawfully killed two people?
2. The trial of the suspects are at various stages in the courts, while Gabriel overtly concerns himself with the plight of the suspects and not the victims?
3. Has Gabriel ever visited or discussed with any of the victims of the May, 2017 attacks?
We know that he visits the culprits charged with the various offenses and pays for their legal fees and other costs. This assumption became plausible when Gabriel in his publication admitted that he “made an effort in December 2019, through a member of the Royal family, to get proper legal representation” for some of the suspects. An unbiased neutral observer and peace-maker indeed.
TALES FROM GABRIEL’S MEETING WITH NED
Dr. Gabriel Ogbechie further noted that he met with Hon. Ned Nwoko in his (Ned) house in Abuja on Monday 15th May 2017. While it is true that Gabriel visited, very reliable sources close to Ned affirmed emphatically that the Hon. Prince did not express any views on the kingship tussle in Idumuje-Ugboko not to mention disclosing to Mr. Gabriel Ogbechie who the rightful person to ascend the throne was.
In another weird account of his meeting with Ned, Gabriel Ogbechie also claimed that Chukwunonso Nwoko “alleged that Hon. Ned Nwoko approached the past King in 1999/2000 with a request for thirty-three (33) hectares of land to build a Cattle Ranch and Dairy Farm. The late king excitedly allocated the 33 hectares of land to Hon. Ned Nwoko for free, to use for industrialization. Hon. Ned Nwoko took the land and built his personal house on it. Seventeen years afterwards, no cattle ranch nor dairy farm has been developed”. This is a bloated lie.
The hard truth is that Prince Ned Nwoko effectively utilized the 33 hectares which actually is behind his house and not where Gabriel claimed it is located in his Abuja tales of meetings with Ned. Gabriel’s story here shows he has no clue about the facts but merely disseminates a hear-say. It is disturbing and ironical because Gabriel was actually using Ned’s sports facilities at his house before he, Gabriel built his own village house. So, he never took time or he was too eager to please Chukwunonso and so couldn’t seek simple facts.
The truth is the 33 hectares is behind Mount Ned, the authentic African architectural masterpiece. Prince Ned indeed brought in five hundred (500) cows for the dairy farm but unfortunately they died one after the other until they all perished. Those involved in dairy business can attest to how delicate it could be. He therefore diverted to fish farming, poultry and a zoo which continues to attract foreign and local tourists to Idumuje-Ugboko. Part of the land has also been utilized for the ongoing STARS university project, in Idumuje-Ugboko.
THE LAND AND THE UNIVERSITY MATTER IS A CLOSED CHAPTER
It bears emphasis to state that the land allocation document for the University and golf project was signed by the Chiefs and representatives from each of the four (4) villages in Idumuje-Ugboko, the same people who allocated land for Dr. Gabriel Ogbechie’s Petrol Station and residential home at Idumuje-Ugboko amongst over two hundred (200) others including Prince Martin Ezedimbu Nwoko, Late Elder Clement Okeleke Anizor, Prince Willy Eziani Nwoko, Engr. Goode Omezi, Mr. Uche Aligbe etc. The Land Allocation Committee is not a new issue in Idumuje-Ugboko. It has served generations of indigenes creditably.
Why is Prince Ned’s case different? Why will one Prince place himself on a destructive pedestal by defying the collective decision of a people under his father’s leadership? Why does he think he could assume the role of an Emperor in Idumuje-Ugboko ? Yet men like Gabriel Ifeanyi Ogbechie can’t tell him the truth no matter how bruising.
NED WILL NEVER GIVE BRIBE OVER HIS LAND…TOTALLY AGAINST HIS VALUES
At the Abuja meeting between Gabriel Ogbechie and Prince Ned Nwoko, Gabriel according to our sources advised Hon. Ned to arrange a gift of one hundred million (N100,000,000:00) Naira for Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko because according to Dr. Ogbechie, Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko needed money badly for personal upkeep. Of course Prince Ned declined, insisting that he won’t do anything outside the directives of Idumuje-Ugboko land Allocation committee, our source revealed, adding that Prince considered such an action a form of bribery which is totally against his values.
In fact, Prince Ned tried to make Gabriel Ifeanyi Ogbechie understand the injustice of not proposing any compensation for the victims of the crisis as that should be the focal point of all discussions. Truly there cannot be peace without justice, he was alleged to have told a rattled Ogbechie.
A MOCKERY OF THE DEAD, A SLUR AGAINST THE VICTIMS
We have asked again and again, how could Gabriel Ogbechie deny knowledge of a young man who was brutally killed in the palace and Kennedy Nedu illoh who died from severe injuries inflicted upon him when he was abducted by Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko’s thugs. Is he not aware that all the people who were taken to the palace were beaten up, disgraced and humiliated in the palace in the presence of Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko and his supporters?
During the engagement with Gabriel Ogbechie, Ned Nwoko according to our source, did not discuss Idumuje-Ugboko Development Union (IUDU) with him. He only allegedly revealed that he spoke with the Obi of Owa who doubles as the chairman of Delta North Traditional Committee and Chairman of the Owa Peace Committee on the application for bail for the culprits of the mayhem and that he will plead with the prosecution if possible not to oppose any bail application. Indeed, bail was not opposed and they were granted bail subject with stringent conditions. At no time did they discuss Idumuje-Ugboko Development Union (IUDU). The Union is not on trial. Therefore, the efforts to make Prince Ned Nwoko look like an enemy of the union falls short of the truth.
What is clear and irreversible is that some people committed crimes and justice, like the sword of Damocles, must prevail. All Gabriel Ogbechie told Prince Ned Nwoko was that he didn’t want the matter to go for trial as he felt that the suspects would eventually be found guilty and Prince Ned allegedly asked him to meet the complainants and seek for some compensation and apologies for them especially the families of those who lost lives. Gabriel reaction was a scant comment that showed they didn’t count as long as they didn’t represent his ‘king’s’ interest. Prince Ned was said to have reminded him that Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko and his group do not want peace because they have continued to intimidate his supporters through illegal fines and illegal excommunications. In clear terms reconciliation must be total and honest.
PRINCE NED’S THIRST FOR PEACE
It is on record that Prince Ned Nwoko has never been averse to peaceful resolution of the Idumuje-Ugboko crisis even when he cannot be adjudged as the aggressor in all ramifications.
He has attended every Peace meeting while Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko has reneged in all.
1. Aniocha North Traditional Rulers Committee, sometime in March, April and May, 2017
2. Meeting with then AIG Adamu Mohammed in his Zone 5 Benin-City office on June 1st 2017.
3. B.S.C. Elue led Anioma Congress Peace Committee (severally met)
4. Proposed meeting with Obi of Idumuje-unor but aborted by Prince Chukwunnonso Nwoko few hours to the meeting.
5. Chief Paul Uzor led Fact-Finding committee aborted on the day of the meeting by Gabriel Ogbechie and all members of the purported committee who published a 2-page signed advertorial maligning the persons of Prince Ned Nwoko and 3 others on 21/4/2017.
6. Obed Onwochei Peace initiative
7. Diokpa Uka/Idumuje-Ugboko Women IUDU sponsored Peace initiative
8. Most recently Obi of Owa Peace Committee
Except for a very few mischief makers, most Idumuje-Ugboko indigenes are happy with the efforts at establishing STARS University and the golf course which they believe will bring greater development not only to Idumuje-Ugboko but Anioma area and beyond.
WE ARE FOR JUSTICE AND THEN PEACE
The truth is the wheel of justice delivery in Nigeria may seem slow but it will always get to its target with a mortal grip. No escape. And prosecution for a criminal falls within the arena of the State. So, nobody will manipulate it. You don’t have the power to derail it. It will go its full course. And we will let the law prevail.
While the peace initiative remains an avenue for peace, the ascendancy to the throne should equally follow the traditional rites and laid down procedure.
No matter the appeal, without justice and goodwill, including honesty of purpose, it is easy to doubt Gabriel Ogbechie’s intentions as a fair player in the Idumuje-Ugboko debacle.
Those wailing for PEACE in Idumuje-Ugboko without a whisper for JUSTICE squander the integrity of serious conversations and inadvertently elevate hypocrisy.
Let us all give justice a chance and peace will endure in our troubled land forever.
A FINAL WORD FOR OUR BROTHER, GABRIEL AND ALL OF US
For our dear brother, Gabriel Ifeanyi Ogbechie, for all of us and people of Idumuje-Ugboko, here is a parting shot….
“The future will have no pity for those men who, possessing the exceptional privilege of being able to speak words of truth to their oppressors, have taken refuge in an attitude of passivity, of mute indifference and sometimes, of cold complicity”– FRANZ FANNON in Wretched of the Earth.
CHIEF CHRISTOPHER OGWU
(Iyese of Idumuje-Ugboko)
CHIEF SUNDAY EDEMODU
(Odogwu of Idumuje-Ugboko)