SIEGE OF ADVANCE FEE FRAUD AND THE MORAL CACOPHONY OF ONOWU PAUL IJEH: Between the Seven Steps that Make the Odogwu of Ibusa and the Mockery and Debasing of a People’s Customs and Tradition
His Highness Nwankwo Tony Nwaezeigwe, PhD, DD
Odogwu of Ibusa Clan, Okunagba Ozala II
The vulture once told her kinsmen pointing sardonically to the egg in her belly: “You see this egg in my stomach? Whatever its outcome, I see it as my gain. If the baby comes out alive, it remains my baby. If on the other hand, it comes out dead, it becomes my food.” This is the irony of the roguish conferment of Odogwu of Ibusa title on Mr. Charles Okonkwo on 28 December, 2021 by the Diokpa of Ibusa Onowu Paul Ijeh of Idi na Isagba Quarters. For professional historians, crisis and conflict situations remain the most veritable means of generating authentic source materials for the reconstruction of the people’s past.
To me therefore, the conclusion of the process of an illegality in Ibusa native law and customs defined by the conferment of Odogwu title on Mr. Charles Okonkwo provides a further space for the advancement of Ibusa history and culture, albeit by way of moral cacophony. The present paper is therefore part of the forthcoming book titled: “IBUSA HISTORY AND POLITICS OF MORAL CACOPHONY THROUGH DIOKPA, OBUZO AND ODOGWU DISPUTES: From Obi Okolie-Apiti to Onowu Paul Ijeh.”
Against the background of the tussle over the Odogwu of Ibusa title, the pressure of resignation to fate has always been advanced albeit mischievously in the light of my present exile status. But the question I have always asked the proponents of such stance is: what is the fundamental role of Odogwu of Ibusa? Well, the answer has always been war. So if I am made the Odogwu of Ibusa why then should I shy away from crisis and conflicts, particular a minor one like the tussle over my title, when I have been engrossed in a bigger war with the present Federal Government?
There is also the issue of seeing the contest over my title as a distraction against the greater national battle I am currently facing, which no doubt laudable and objective in essence, particularly when viewed in the context of the home-base subversion led by Fred Ajudua. But then I reminded them of the Ibusa adage that says: “Wan na-azo onu okuku maka onu ewu”—the demand for one’s right over the neck of the fowl is predicated on the same right over the neck of the got, and by extension the neck of the cow. In other words, if you cannot fight over your personal right, how then can you prove your capacity to fight for the collective right of the people?
By inference therefore, the on-going home-base conspiracy against my traditional status is not only an occasion to prove to those who made me the Odogwu of Ibusa Clan that they did not make any mistake, but equally to prove my capacity to fix the sliding Nigerian Federation. In addition, it goes further to define the degree of frustration of those who aligned with the Federal Government security agents and spent millions of naira in payments and sponsorship of assassins against me. Thus I stand today to count as my greatest victory my ability to witness live that shameless episode of frustration defined by the creation of a puppet and impostor Odogwu of Ibusa.
Does the Fred Ajudua Factor Count?
The much talked about conferment of the Odogwu of Ibusa title on Mr. Charles Okonkwo by the Diokpa of Ibusa Onowu Paul Ijeh has come and gone not only with less than expected fanfare but indelible marks of customary brigandage. Of all the named distinguished Ibusa guests only Chief Fred Ajudua was visibly present with his rag-tag political hirelings. Interesting this was the same Fred Ajudua that informed a Lagos High Court presided by Justice Josephine Oyefeso on December 7, 2021 that he could not enter the courtroom for face trial for defrauding Nigeria’s former Chief of Army Staff General Ishaya Bamaiyi the sum of $8.4 million because he contacted Covid-19.
Since the arrival of Chief Fred Ajudua on the socio-political thoroughfare of Ibusa the town has remained under the spell of a cloudy moon, some say tainted moon. Whichever term correctly applies to the negative impact of a Fred Ajudua on the totality of Ibusa image, the fact remains, a cloudy or tainted moon can never provide a clear vision on human pathways. As a Jewish commentator rightly put it in his description of the root of terrorism among the Palestinians, a society where those who kill Jews are celebrated and the families of suicide bombers are held in high esteem will always breed terrorism.
Remarkably enough Fred Ajudua holds the title of Onwa na-etili Oha of Ibusa—the moon that shines for the multitude of Ibusa peoples. His other title is Dike di Oha Mma of Anioma—the favoured hero of Anioma people. The point here is why wouldn’t the likes of Fred Ajudua continue to be venerated as the light of their people if in spite of all the records associated with his dubious wealth Ibusa people and indeed the entire Oshimili North Local Government Area elected his wife to the Delta State House of Assembly three consecutive times, with a further ambition to move to the Federal House of Representatives in 2023, and allowed his immediate senior sister to be appointed a Commissioner by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. This also explains why he feels unstoppable for his ambition to become the traditional Ruler of Ibusa Clan—the further reason why he feels obliged to root Dr. Nwankwo Tony Nwaezeigwe out of the way as Odogwu of Ibusa either dead or alive.
Among the Igbo West of the Niger there is no community where the institution of gerontocracy is as highly revered as Ibusa. Perhaps, the Ndosimili and Ukwuani popularly known as Ndokwa in modern political parlance might fall on this category. Among these people the institution of Okpala, variously known among the people as Diokpa and Okakwu forms the basis of authority definition over and above the kingship institution imported mainly from the Edo Kingdom of Benin. Indeed the cosmological ideology on which Ibusa is founded is defined by the concept of Igwe ka Ani cum Okpala ka Eze (The Heavens are higher than the earth the same way the Eldest man is higher than the King).
However, unlike the case of absolute kingship, the Diokpa institution is based on republicanism or what could better be described as village democracy. In other words, as one of the erudite traditional Ibusa historians—Chief Lawrence N. Ashikodi succinctly put it: “the Diokpa-Ibusa reigns but does not rule.” This is what Onowu Paul Ijeh who is privileged to be one of the few Diokpa-Ibusa to be educated in Western fashion and has lived continuously in Ibusa for over forty years is expected to know, not only as the living pivot of Ibusa customs and tradition, but a man who has all the while presented himself as the defender of Ibusa customs and tradition against the monarchical presumptuousness of Obi (Prof) Louis Chelunor Nwoboshi.
But as history has always been there to vindicate the just, time, which is the constant factor in definition of history will always be there to give accounts; for what could have been more rewarding than witnessing a customized customary illegality against the expectations of my detractors who had hoped and prayed for my death before this moment. Henry Carr once stated: “Historians are a poor hand at predicting the future, but they have the power not even claimed by the deity of altering the past.” This is what I will make those people who do not reckon with the punitive roles of the past but act in a way that suggests there is no tomorrow but today.
Around12 O’clock noon on Eke Market day of Thursday April 9, 1953 the following noble elders of Ibusa Clan gathered at Ashia Eke market square to decide the fate of Ibusa traditional leadership against the background of Diokpa-Ibusa dispute between Obi Okolie Apiti of Ezukwu Quarters and Obi Nwokolo Ofili of Ogbeowele Quarters:
Obi Okolie Apiti, Diokpa of Ezukwu Clan & Otu Odogwu
Obi Mobebe, Diokpa of Omeze Clan
Obi Aniedua, Diokpa of Idinisagba Clan
Obi Azeh, Diokpa of Umuodafe Clan & Otu Uwolo
Akpako, Diokpa of Ogbogwugwu Clan
Obi Nwaokolo, Diokpa of Ogbowele Clan & Otu Iyase
Obi Egbuchua, Diokpa of Umuekea Clan
Obi Okonkwo, Diokpa of Umueha Clan
Obi Odude, Diokpa of Ezeagwu Clan.
Ngali, Diokpa of Ogboli (Represented by Mr. Okofu Odogwu.
Members of Ibusa Judicial Council
Chief Obi Mordi of Ogbowele
Chief Obi Mokogwu of Umuodafe
Chief Obi Ikem of Ogbowele
Chief Obi D.N. Okonkwo of Umuodafe
Chief G.C. Uwaechue of Umuekea
Members of Ibusa Native Authority Council
Mr. J. Idaiyi
Mr. A.J.W. Nwanze
Mr. Isidore Agokei (Uwolo of Ibusa)
Obi Okolie Onochie of Ezeagwu
Mr. J. Isichei of Omeze
Obi Moha of Ezeagwu
Mr. J. Nwabueze of Umuekea
Obi Nwaolisa Okolie of Indinisagba
Mr. R. Ibili of Umuodafe
Obi Okeze of Omeze
Obi Nwajei of Omeze
Obi Okafor Ofuasia of Ogbowele
Mr. V.C. Alabua of Ogbowele
Mr. S.N. Adudu of Ezukwu
Mr. C.J. Obiorah
Mr. F. D. Nwaka.
Although the detailed account of the event is a different subject matter altogether, its significance to the on-going political dissonance of Ibusa Clan constructed on the reckless abetting and abuse of time-honoured customs and tradition of the people. It also goes to express in profound terms the power of history to uncover in future the acts of men both constructive or destructive hidden in the sands of time. Instructively, none of the men mentioned above is still alive. Indeed few of their direct children can still be identified today. For instance, the son of Obi Mordi the number one on the list of Members of Ibusa Judicial Council is the oldest man and Diokpa of Otu-Iyase Sub-Clan today.
Onowu Paul Ijeh and the Abuse of the Doctrine of Moral Judgment and Balance of Equity in Ibusa Customs and Tradition
The guiding principle in the definition of moral judgment and equity has always hinged on the saying: “Afu ekwu na-egbu okenye; ekwu anu na-egbu nwata”—seeing and refusal to speak out leads to the demise of the elder; while the refusal to listen to admonitions leads to the demise of the young. Professor Uwandulu posed a moral paradox when he advanced the following logical praxis as the reason for the installation of Mr. Charles Okonkwo as the Odogwu of Ibusa in my absence:
“However in the circumstance where Obuzor seems determined to impose his warped system of emergence of traditional chiefs on Igbuzo, exigency management demands, something must be done. It is in this context that I align myself with the emergence of Okonkwo as the emerging Odogwu Igbuzo.”
If we agree as Professor Uwandulu stated that the Obuzo was creating confusions everywhere by creating his own line of traditional chiefs, the question might therefore arise, who created Barrister Amaechi Nwaenia and Mr. Charles Okonkwo as traditional chiefs in Ibusa in the first instance? May be Professor Uwandulu, Onowu Paul Ijeh and those who ally with him that the purpose of installing Mr. Charles Okonkwo is to contain the Obuzo forgot that it was the same Obuzo that conferred Mr. Amaechi Nwaenia the Uwolo Ibusa title against subsisting native laws and customs. They equally forgot that it was the same Obuzo that conferred the title of Akulueuno of Ibusa on Mr. Charles Okonkwo before the latter shifted ground towards the Diokpa-Ibusa faction following their conflict over the Odogwu title.
The scenario Ibusa people are facing before Onowu Paul Ijeh in respect of the two titles of Odogwu and Uwolo is a situation where the Obuzo conferred the Uwolo title on Mr. Amaechi Nwaenia on ground of his position as the prescribed authority; while Onowu Paul Ijeh conferred the Odogwu title on Mr. Charles Okonkwo on ground of his right as the Diokpa of Ibusa.
Ibusa people and their neighbours will like to know which of these two institutions has the authority to confer the titles. In other words, if the Diokpa of Ibusa has the right to confer the Uwolo and Odogwu titles it means that Mr. Amaechi Nwaenia’s position as the Uwolo of Ibusa is a nullity. In the same vein, if the native law and custom delegates the authority to confer to Obuzo and not the Diokpa then the action of December 28, 2021 in respect of the conferment of Odogwu title on Mr. Charles Okonkwo remains a nullity. In other words, between Onowu Ijeh and Obi (Prof) Louis Nwaoboshi who acted in accordance to Ibusa Native laws and customs regarding the conferment of Odogwu and Uwolo titles? To be factual, it is either one of them is right or the other are wrong; or better still, both of them are wrong.
These are fundamental issues that border on the integrity of Ibusa and her traditional leadership. For instance, in all the West Niger Igbo communities particularly Asaba and Ogwashi Uku, there are laid down native laws and customs guiding the conferment of traditional chieftaincy titles which never formed part of the arising disputes. In other words, there could be disputes over the right of succession and not over the procedures of conferment as in the case of Ibusa. Strikingly, the kingpins in the forefront of this customary impunity claim to be legal practitioners. Chief Fred Ajudua is a lawyer. Mr. Amaechi Nwaenia is a lawyer. Mr. Charles Okonkwo is also claiming to be a lawyer from the National Open University of Nigeria. Even Fred Ajudua’s wife Hon. Pat Adankele Ajudua we are told holds a PhD in law.
The question here again is what legitimacy does Fred Ajudua’s carriage add to the Illegality of Charles Okonkwo’s Odogwu title by posing publicly with him? Does it not give credibility to my assertion that Fred Ajudua’s intent in advancing Charles Okonkwo’s ambition is predicated on his dubious and inordinate ambition to become the next Obuzo of Ibusa? After all the same Fred Ajudua never saw eye to eye with Mr. Amaechi Nwaenia until the dubious business of illegal sale of Umuodafe lineage land united both of them. It indeed befuddles the mind that those who brand themselves as learned gentlemen are only so by right of their expertise in criminality.
This could rightly explain why Ibusa has been backward in law profession. We have had only one Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) late Mr. Chike Chigbue and one Appeal Court Judge late Justice V. J. O. Chigbue since time immemorial—son and father respectively. The only High Court Judge from Ibusa cannot be said to belong to her because she is married away to Urhoboland. Incidentally, the only petition that came up against her nomination as High Court Judge came from the Palace of Obuzo of Ibusa, thank God for the sagacious intervention of her Urhobo husbands who courtly told Ibusa people that her appointment was not predicated on her Ibusa root but on the slot reserved for the Urhobo—her husband’s kinsmen.
Onowu Ijeh has been a member of all the apex traditional Ibusa institutions in which I have been the bona fide Odogwu of Ibusa and he cannot say I am never the Odogwu of Ibusa before the Ibusa ancestors, of which he is the living symbol today. We belong and attended the same Izu-Ani. We belong and attended the same Ibusa Traditional Council. We belong to the same Otu Imanokwa Royal Dance Troupe, and we have taken photographs together. Although one could excuse him for being less acquainted with Ibusa native laws and customs, since he would always seek refuge in his sojourn for Whiteman’s job, but there is no such excuse in law. My prayer is that God should grant him many more years to enable him witness the final outcome of the dispute at the appropriate moment. Of course he would not be the first Diokpa Ibusa to bear witness in the court of law over chieftaincy tussle. Obi Uwechue Akpunku was not just a witness but a defendant in the Uwolo dispute between Chief Ikolodo and Chief Nwokocha Elege.
What Makes the Odogwu of Ibusa?
The Odogwu of Ibusa is a ritualized traditional chieftaincy title enveloped in a circle of defined rites. It is obvious that what Onowu Paul Ijeh performed on Mr. Charles Okonkwo has nothing to do with the traditional conferment of Odogwu title.
Before becoming the Odogwu of Ibusa, the candidate must be initiated into Ogbuu Warrior Cult Society during which his proposed Agana insignia is propitiated and placed on Ikenga-Oha for twenty-four hours before the final initiation ceremony which takes place at the candidate’s home. If one may ask, which Ikenga-Oha did Celestine Okafor propitiate for Mr. Charles Okonkwo’s initiation?
The Odogwu of Ibusa must be in a state of seclusion away from women except virgins and women of menopause stage, who are the only set of women permitted to prepare his food and touch him. So the idea of dancing to a reception is strange to Native Law and customs regarding the conferment of Odogwu of Ibusa title.
The Odogwu of Ibusa has a unique insignia of office called Apilipa—a wooden platform on which are pinned Human heads in the olden days but now carries animal heads. The Diokpa of Ibusa does not know anything about Apilipa and so there was no way it could have formed part of his illegal conferment on his so-called Mr. Odogwu Charles Okonkwo. Therefore an Odogwu conferred without Apilipa cannot legally be the Odogwu of Ibusa in both law and tradition.
After conferment by the Ikwele of Ibusa, the new Odogwu of Ibusa is led by the Okanga War drums of his village, and not the tom-tom drums used by Otu-Ogbuu for burial rites as in the case of Mr. Charles Okonkwo, first to the home of the Diokpa-Ibusa, and then to the other two Diokpa Otu and Omu of Ibusa. Thereafter he retires to his home for the last stage of seclusion which lasts for eight days (Oge Ato).
At the end of the eight days of seclusion, he returns to the palace of the Ikwele of Ibusa where he is presented to the entire members of Ogbuu Warrior Cult Society of Ibusa by the Ikwele; during which he presents one goat to them. Thereafter the Ogbuu members perform the rites of Igupu-Aya separately by the three sub-clans—Otu-Odogwu, Otu-Uwolo and Otu-Iyase. With these rites concludes the ritual profess of ascending the throne of Odogwu of Ibusa.
The climax comes up at the Izu Ani Ibusa where he is formally presented to the people as the Odogwu of Ibusa by his Diokpa.
Why Nwankwo Nwaezeigwe Remains the Odogwu of Ibusa in Both Native Law and Customs
The above seven steps to the conferment of Odogwu of Ibusa title were religiously adhered to without recourse to any form of adjustment or exemption.
By laid down customary procedure on lineage rights to the title the people of Umuwai Village like their Umuochie and Umunwina counterparts are excluded from taking the Odogwu of Ibusa title and as such Mr. Charles Okonkwo stands disqualified to aspire to the title.
Dr. Nwaezeigwe has a subsisting Judgment confirming his right to the title of Odogwu of Ibusa from the Chief Magistrate’s Court Akwukwu Igbo delivered by His Worship S. C. Okebu Esq. on 4 April 2010, in Charge No. AKM/4c/2009/Between:-Commissioner of Police Vs. Dr. Tony Nwaezeigwe
The process of selection, appointment and conferment was undertaken in accordance to Ibusa Native Law and Customs supported by extant Government laws, as embodied in a registered Government Declaration Regulating the Selection, Appointment and Conferment of Traditional Titles, titled: “Form of Ruling House Declaration—Declaration Under Section 4(2) of the Chiefs Law, 1959 of Western Region of Nigeria Regulating the Selection of Odogwu of Ibusa”, which is still applicable to Delta State Traditional Rulers, Council and Chiefs Edict, 1998 as supported by sections 3 to 12 and 23.
Section IV of the above Declaration expressly entrusts the authority to confer the Odogwu of Ibusa title on the Ikwele of Ibusa.
Chief Clement Nwanze who acted as regent to the title confirmed that he was never conferred the title by the Ikwele of Ibusa Chief P. O. Emordi.
Similarly, Sir F. C. Nwanze the current Diokpa of Anyalaobum Sub-Clan and substantive Odogwu of Ibusa before me who officially handed over the title to me has duly confirmed that Clement Nwanze was never a substantive Odogwu of Ibusa.
This is my submission at this point. As our people say, Ubosi nta achua n’owele nchi. Your guesses are as good as mine.