A monarch is on self-imposed exile fearing for his life. His community insists he is gone for good. Youths, men and women are protesting against his actions, but elders are calling for caution. Yet, his whereabouts is unknown to many who are shouting to the rooftops. Another monarch was “invited” by the police over allegations of murder. He has been released. Yet, tension pervades his community. DOMINIC ADEWOLE, reports from Asaba on the troubled communities
All is not well in Ewulu Kingdom in Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State. Who will bring the agrarian community face to face with peace and tranquility? Presently, the hearts of parents have turned against their children and children against their parents in the community.
They have all gone their ways like sheep without a shepherd. No thanks to the crisis between the monarch and his subjects which allegedly forced him into self-exile. Since Tuesday, June 2, 2020, the monarch of the kingdom abdicated the traditional stool of his forefathers to a hideout within Asaba metropolis for fear of the unknown.
While a section of the community said he is hiding in a hotel room in Asaba, the state capital, others said a room was allotted to him in the house of one of his loyalists within the town. However, on Saturday, July 18, the community was besieged by protesters, comprising men, women and youths with placards of various inscriptions, including “Ewulu is not for sale, Obi on the run, Return our family lands, Say no to palace rascality, Say no to satanic rule, No regent, no peace, Regent is the answer, Onyeweuwa destroyed our value system”, other placards read: “Obi on selfexile, Regent all the way DTSG help us, Say no to nepotism in Ewulu, DTSG withdraw staff of office, Our monarch failed us, Say no to criminal elements, Say no to incompetence, Say no to palace brutality and Stop harrassing us with arrest, who gathered at the Town-Square, accusing the ‘runaway’ king of desecrating their traditional stool and calling for his head. They displayed branches of trees to signify his total rejection by his people, even as they described his self-exile as “a journey of no return”.
The embattled Obi, Agbogidi, Godwin Onyeweuwa, who ascended the throne in 2006 and was greatly accepted by his people, which reflected during his one-year anniversary celebration which saw to the donation of a car, a set of computer and a promise for a furnished secretariat. All those are now distant memories. Despite that he has told those that cared to listen that he did not abandon the throne for no just cause but ran away to a distant town for his dear life, his people cried foul and rejected his excuses.
The Prime Minister of the kingdom, Chief Nelson Chiadiji, called for caution and maintained that checks and balances should be instituted before his return but the protesting locals maintained that the gods are angry over the wrongdoings of the monarch, hence ‘his position, let another take’. South South Focus learnt that trouble erupted after the monarch unilaterally broke into the community land and sold off a large expanse of land for over N85 million to a nearby community. Also, he was said to have connived with two of his cronies to dissolve the town’s union, to the detriment of the Obi-in-Council. Moreover, the protesters accused him of running a cult-group with which he has been intimidating and punishing anybody that opposes him.
The President of the Otu-Oganishu Ewulu (Otu-Obi), Chief Ken O. Ojii, supported by his Secretary, Uche Emma Aboh, in a co-signed statement, said the monarch deliberately destroyed the leadership structure of the town and inflicted untold hopelessness on the people.
“He fortified himself with three criminally minded individuals called Chiefs, disbanded the apex body in charge of the leadership, development, peace and finance – the Ewulu Progressive Union, citing flimsy reasons that can ordinarily be handled in-house for his action.
“Following the overwhelming evidences against the monarch and relying on the principle of natural law that ‘power belong to the people’, this body has no other option than to conclude its consultation. Almost all the people in Ewulu and a substantial number of Ewulu indigenes of the kingdom that were consulted outside, appear to be saying the same thing.
“Ewulu people should accept the fact that anybody appointed or elected into any position has a responsibility attached to it, and it is expected that such person shall be committed and should act in favour of the development of a structure and leadership in Ewulu, which shall make the town great again”, the statement read. The Youth Leader of the kingdom, Emodi Echie, said the gods of the land had rejected the monarch and he should remain in exile for 30 years for peace to return to the town. He said: “The king must not return for 30 years. He sold the community land and confiscated the proceeds. He is not a good head. He slaps his subjects at will.
He has cult boys around him. He flogs his subject by himself. He angrily used his traditional staff (Ofor) to hit the forehead of a widow and blood gushed out.” Amidst this tension, youths, under the umbrella body of the Anioma Youth Forum Worldwide (AYF-W) rose to condemn the police invasion of the Palace of their king, the Obi of Idumuje-Ugboko Kingdom, HRH Chukwunonso Nwoko, to effect his arrest. It was gathered that detectives from the police command in the state stormed the palace of the monarch and arrested him for not honouring a police invitation over a festering murder case.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Hafiz Inuwa, said the monarch was arrested because he disobeyed the law, which he is not above. He said: “The monarch was not abducted. My men went there to arrest him for failing to honour an invitation extended to him. He apologized for his refusal and has since been released.” But the youth wing described the action of the police as “a complete desecration of the traditional stool” and a stigma on the image of the revered custodians of the culture and customs of the people of Idumuje-Ugboko.
“It was an act of brigandage and unruly for operatives to storm the palace in a commando style. The action was not only nauseating, but insulting, ridiculing, uncalled for and above all, unacceptable”, said the National Publicity Secretary of forum, Elvis Ekwukwo.
The body said it was awful that the monarch was treated like a common and wanted criminal over allegations of killing and burial of some unnamed persons in his palace. He urged the police to scale up its avowed peace-building synergy with the civil populace instead of engaging in the act of brigandage and unruly actions of ridiculing traditional institution. “It is unarguable that the place of the traditional institution in attainment of a peaceful society cannot be over emphasized.
Hence, it is pertinent for the Nigerian police to apply caution and deploy the best policing practices in dealing with matters involving our traditional stools just as they treat some highly placed individuals and political office holders.
“In furtherance of this, AYF-W remains resolute and categorically state that we are committed to championing the cause of peaceful coexistence of all and sundry while reiterating our unwavering commitment on the need to partner with the police and other security agencies in building a stronger police/ people partnership that will foster a more robust and collaborative fight against all forms of crimes and criminality in the state and the nation as a whole to make the society a better place for all to live in,” it stated.
An elder, who chaired the Land Allocation Committee of the kingdom in 1965, Mr Francis Aloka, wondered why the people tolerated the excesses of the monarch on obnoxious burial and marriage ceremonies laws”, the AYF-W statement read. Although, Obi Agbogidi, Godwin Onyeweuwa spoke from his hideouts on phone, insisting that he fled for his life and described the allegations against him by Ewulu people as “false and baseless”, Otu-Oganishu Ewulu said since the voice of the people is the voice of God, people have called for a body, known as ‘Chiefs and Elders Council, to be set up in the interim, to function in place of the Obi-in-Council.
The dissolved Ewulu Progressive Union (EPU) election be conducted immediately; Inotu to be restructured and made functional; Okpala-in-Council be instituted immediately and Okpala be installed; Oshomor/ Vigilante body be stabilised for security duties as against the cult-group and disbanded women group and finally, Youth Organization to be reorganized. As if the trouble was not enough, the community slammed strenuous conditions on the monarch, which include, to account for all infractions he committed, (2) to account for all Ewulu finances since he came to power, (3) to settle the issue of Iyi-Otu land bulldozing and be ready to pay compensation worth N100,000,000, (4) he must be ready to go back to school, and finally, he must be ready to subject himself to the culture and tradition of his people.
The Otu-Oganishu Ewulu lamented that great and educated sons and daughters of the land who have engaged the monarch in series of unsolicited admonition and counselling, later distanced themselves from the palace, having discovered that the Obi has found comfort with few disgruntled and unqualified individuals. An elder, who chaired the Land Allocation Committee of the kingdom in 1965, Mr Francis Aloka, wondered why the people tolerated the excesses of the monarch on obnoxious burial and marriage ceremonies laws. He urged the state government to intervene in the crisis before people are killed even as he suggested dialogue, brainwork and tactical approach, if the king must return or be totally banished.