By Emma OBIAMIWE, Senior Investigator Correspondent, Asaba.
THE prevailing and protracted cold war between Princes of Idumuje-Ugboko, a community in Anioma South of Delta State, Nigeria over ascension to the throne no doubt, has snowballed into what can be best described as royal rumble as the evolving scenario clearly suggests. The Princes of the community especially, Chukwunonoso Justin Nwoko and Hon .Barr. Ned Nwoko had been locked in an acrimonious vendetta over acquisition of land for development on the one side and the legitimacy of ascending the throne; on the other. This has evidently degenerated into yet to be resolved legal tussles, accusation and counter accusation, character assassination and blackmail. Idumuje-Ugboko, a hitherto sleepy community which crept into global space was through dint of hard work by prominent indigenes of the community. She had since assumed a sclerotic stance as a town renowned with opportunities both for the indigenes and visitors alike; in which case, analysts have tended to contend that telling a holistic story of Delta State without the mention of Idumuje-Ugboko amounts to gross distortion and misrepresentation of facts. Arguably, the town had been ruled over the years by choice indigenes, rich in wisdom and knowledge of the sacred tradition of the elders. This had prompted the usual underpinning quest for an anointed successor to ascend the throne when the predecessor transmigrates; for it is said kings don’t die. At the nucleus of the controversy that had overtime stalled good traditional governance system and is visibly robbing the good people of Idumuje-Ugboko; nay the entire adjoining communities the needed international reckon occasioned by conceived and well orchestrated master capital projects is Prince Chukwunonso Justin Nwoko who to many, is in dearth of the requisite candor and managerial prowess to lead the people to the promised land.
Stakeholders and observers are discomfited over Prince Chukunonso Justin Nwoko’s portrayal of himself as the heir apparent to the throne on the ground that he is of “questionable character with several criminal cases flooding against him. One, they say, Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko has mental health challenges and that his activities in the town over time leave much to be desired and therefore, a misfit to be crowned a king. Those close to him revealed authoritatively that he suffered brain fag at the University of Benin as a medical student in the 1978/79 academic session and led to his withdrawal from the institution. It was further revealed that Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko, after partial recovery from the first mental illness, could not go back to the University of Benin, but went to live with one of his Uncles working as a School Principal in one of the South-eastern states adding that he later secured an adhoc teaching job for the ailing Prince before securing an admission to another University where he obtained a degree outside medicine. Unfolding events however, showed that Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko, who really never worked all his life except as a Sales Representative for Food Specialties (Benin-City) depot for a very short period because of his mental state of health, has yet to fully recover. His close allies say, “Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko could deceive outsiders about his mental state, that he has never had a good mental health is no less an open secret in the town. He might look normal outwardly but the fact that he suffered delirium is taking a toll on him; especially, the way he relates with members of the community. Of particular reference were the two occasions when he organized and drove away his aging late father’s wives from their matrimonial homes without reason while the father was alive and healthy. Another display of psychosis was his constant meddling with the town’s administration even while his father was alive and ruling as a king. Severally, he had chased away some Chiefs from the Palace and prevented them from performing their official traditional duties with threats to deal with anyone of them who stood on his way. These are abominable and unfortunate traits expected of a Prince.”
In traditional Africa monarchy, it is a taboo and an abomination for the son of a reigning king to see face to face with his father let alone overrule his father or interfere with the traditional administration of the community. Two kings do not rule at the same time in a community. Even extant laws in Delta State forbid a mentally deranged person from ascending a throne as king.
Said an Anioma high chief: “No king or kingmakers in Anioma will support a mentally unstable person with multiple criminal allegations to ascend the throne in any community in Anioma. Prince Chukwunonso is not only suffering from mental illness, he is criminally minded, anti-social, person, who does not want the development of his community, hence he is fighting against the establishment of a Sports University, which is first of its kind in Africa being built in his community. He mental disability is grossly responsible why he most often than not, suffers personality disorder.”
Another respected indigene of Idumuje-Ugboko who would not also want his names in print for fear of being attacked said, “I can tell you for free that we should not make an error of allowing this man called Chukwunonso Nwoko mount the throne of the King of Idumuje-Ugboko. A case in point was the violence that took place in Idumuje-Ugboko between18th to 26th May, 2017; which further exposed his recklessness disregard for decency. We were informed by those who witnessed the violence that based on what happened Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko was without doubt, suffering from mental illness. If not, how would a Prince of a notable town like Idumuje-Ugboko organize thugs and hoodlums to destroy the homes of over 29 families and bring them to the Palace one after the other when there was no war? The people were beaten mercilessly and tied to trees and poles in the Palace, while he personally flogged the Iyase, Chief Chris Ogwu after announcing that they would kill them if they did not give up their support for the university being constructed in the town by a prominent son of the soil.
In fact, a prominent son of the community, who worked and retired from Aniocha North Local Government Council as a Senior Executive Officer, Mr. Kennedy Iloh allegedly died from the torture he received in the hands of Chukwunonso and his cohorts. Aside this, Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko personally organizing a reign of terror in the town and he was said to have supervised the brutalization of the people of the town on many occasions in addition to reneging on any peace agreements normally reached amongst the people of the town and goes ahead to pronouncing fines of goats and threat to ostracize chiefs including his uncles and aunties who opposed him. For instance, there was a peace meeting brokered by the then AIG Adamu in Benin City, where it was agreed that a prominent son of Idumuje-Ugboko, Prince Ned Nwoko should visit the palace the next day as a step towards reconciliation. But surprisingly, Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko, on getting home announced a cancellation of the meeting, insisting that Prince Ned Nwoko must pay a fine, to the chagrin of everybody. He is reputed to be so petty that those who attend the burial ceremonies of his opponents are usually ostracized. Is this the kind of man you want to ascend the sacred stool of Idumuje-Ugboko as a king; someone who is yet contending with several criminal cases in several courts of law? At least four cases come to mind in this regard and one wonders how such a fellow would be presenting himself to be selected as the monarch of a revered town like Idumuje-Ugboko. In one of the cases, Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko is facing terrorism charges arising from the carnage in Idumuje-Ugboko in 2015, which he organized and executed with the help of the trio of Okey Ifejioku, Uwadiegwu Nwoko and Uchenna Nwoko. In another case, he was charged at the High Court in Issele-Uku for sending his thugs to destroy and loot his step-mother’s shop. Again, Chukwunonso Nwoko was charged for forging his father’s signature and for giving Police false information about the allocation of land for the sports university. More so, he was charged for concealing a gang rape of a 13-year-old princess, Chidinma Nwoko in the palace by his brother. This is why tongues are wagging as to why someone with so many criminal matters hanging on his neck dream of becoming a king, since a king ought to be an epitome of good character and virtue?”
Continuing, the respected traditionalist said, “Further checks on his character revealed that few months ago after the Owa-Oyibo Peace Accord, on January 21, 2020, the King’s palace placed a curse on anyone who frustrates the peace accord but Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko and Uche Nwoko Dibie engaged the services of “an ex-convict” Azuka Jebose, a native of Onicha Ugbo, who is based in the United States of America and who hasn’t visited Nigeria in several years, to help them launch a campaign of calumny and blackmail against Prince Ned Nwoko. Azuka went to town with lies and absolute falsehood against Prince Ned Nwoko and it was obvious that Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko was hiding under him to unleash terror on a man people know to be sincere and a lover of the people of Idumuje-Ugboko. Azuka Jebose, who visibly missed his compass as a journalist, has been asking for the release of the Idumuje-Ugboko people standing trial at a Federal High Court for the violence against the over 29 families, but he has cleverly omitted the name of Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko on the list of those charged so that he could hide the link between him and Chukwunonso Nwoko. But unfortunately, he betrayed himself when he unconditionally asked for the withdrawal of all Bench Warrants issued by courts of competent jurisdictions against Chukwunonso for his many criminal acts of banditry and more importantly for jumping bail. There are genuine fears that someone like Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko, who has all along been unleashing terror and unimaginable mayhem on his kinsmen without occupying a traditional office, would do more evil if given an opportunity to mount the coveted seat of the king of the town.”
Stakeholders and observers opined that it would be the greatest undoing of the people of Idumuje-Ugboko to “allow a man with a long term mental illness that has refused to abate to call the shots in the town in the 21st century, when other towns are installing people with sound mind and character to lead them to the Promised Land. They opined further that, rather than tout Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko as the king of the town, efforts should be geared towards rehabilitating him even as he is made to face the numerous courts cases flooding against him.
Feelers are rife that since it was becoming glaring that the odds against Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko might rob him of the coveted stool, his younger brother, Prince (Barr.) Felix Mbanefo Nwoko, said to a chip-off- the- old -block and fingered as one of those responsible for the crisis in the community has begun surreptitious moves as a replacement. Already, source informed that the lawyer was wooing some elites from the community to support his candidature for the throne since the handwriting was clear on the wall that his elder brother might not make to the stool.
In the meantime, there is this overwhelming impression, that one of the contenders to the throne, Prince Solomon Eziokwubundu Nwabuokei Nwoko, a true descendant of Obi Nwoko 1, may get popular concession going by his unblemished mien and sterling records. He is being touted by the Umu-Nwoko Royal Family as legitimate heir to the throne of Idumuje-Ugboko and has been presented to the Obi-In-Council in line with the culture, tradition and customs of the Idumuje clan. This is even as sources hinted that the Umu-Nwoko, through Prince Solomon Nwabuokei Nwoko and others have challenged Prince Chukwunonso’s attempted forceful ascension to the throne in a high court. Remarked an anonymous elder of the community; “Prince Solomon Nwabuokei Nwoko to all and sundry presents the best man for the exalted office because if you look at history, the throne rightfully belongs to his lineage and not that of Prince Chukwunonso, whose grandfather Nkeze Justin Omorhusi usurped the throne in 1927.”